Sunday, January 29, 2006

Puerto Veras and La Valle de los Volcanes

Volcan Osorno's summit (with the ski lift skirting across the lower left)

At 11:30 p.m., while working on the computer, I hear children's songs playing on the hotel's stereo: "Go Tell Aunt Rosie", "Do You Know the Muffin Man", "Old McDonald's Farm", "Little Brown Jug", "On Top of Spaghetti", and others.

Took a drive eastward today, into the Valle de los Volcanes.

Volcan Osorno, near Puerto Varas, Chile, viewed from across Lago Llanquihue ("yankee-way"), Chile's largest lake

Germans Rudolf Miller and Raimund Haaf

At Lago Todos los Santos, I met German riders Rudolf Miller and Raimund Haaf. They had shipped their BMW motorcycles from Hamburg to Valparaiso. They're from the Freiburg region in southwestern Germany. Currently on a visit 6 to 8 weeks in length, Rudolf intends to leave his motorcycle in Chile and eventually return to continue his travels. Over time, he hopes to ride the entire Pan-American Highway from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego. We walked out to the lake shore, then these crazy Germans actually stripped down to their bathing suits and went in the frigid waters!

Looking east across Lago Todos los Santos toward Argentina. From here, San Carlos de Bariloche is only about 75 miles by water (but the boats that travel the lakes are too small to carry vehicles.) It took me most of a day to travel the 250 miles around by road.

Cars are permitted to drive on the beach, and we watched as one became hopelessly stuck in the sand, the driver burning up his clutch as he sunk his car deeper and deeper. It finally took a group of us spectators to push the clown out.

Paid a visit to the nearby Saltos de Petrohué. There is a small fee (1,200 Pesos, about $2.50) to enter this park and view the falls, or cascades. There's a small bin by the exit where you can deposit your spent camera batteries for recycling. A novel idea!

The Saltos (Cascades) del Petrohué

I found this was not an "original" idea to come here; there was lots of company. I had to work hard to make the photographs look like a remote, undiscovered paradise! There, in the crowd, I met Lenka, a young lady from Holland. She's on her way to work for a couple months in Torres del Paine. So many people, far from home!

The Saltos del Petrohué and Volcan Osorno

My map showed a road that climbs Osorno, but gave no indication of the type of road, so I was a bit surprised to find a smooth, narrow and winding asphalt road leading up through the heavily-forested slopes. After a few miles, the pavement ended, and the road continued, a rather rough and rocky (though apparently still well-traveled) trail. The trees gave way to rock- and boulder-strewn open slopes providing a broad panorama.

I had to laugh when I finally realized this road led directly to a large ski resort, that, even in this summer season, is a popular drive for many. So much for "adventure riding"! The ski lift was operational, but $10 for a ride part-way up the slope seemed exorbitant. I sat down with a soda at the coffee shop, and enjoyed the view.

This evening, I drove into Puerto Varas, intending to find Rudolf and Raimund at their hostel "La Casa Azul". I thought it would be no problem.

I had told them I'd be there at 8:00. But it was soon clear, my directions were inadequate. I found a hotel in what I thought was the general vicinity and inquired at reception. They said I was very close and gave me directions to the place, a few hundred yards away.

I found an old blue Victorian and rang the bell. Close, but this was the "Canales del Sur". The woman told me "La Casa Azul" is on Avenida Imperial, where the church is. I found the church but it was not on Avenida Imperial. Asked a man there. He said I was close, and pointed me to a street not far way. I found Imperial and drove up and down. No obvious "La Casa Azul". Stopped at another hotel on Imperial and asked if they could help. They didn't recognize the name, nor could they find it in the phone book.

So, with that, I gave up and figured I'd be dining solo. Wandering the downtown district on my bike, I found a very interesting seafood restaurant at the end of a cul-de-sac. Went inside and found it filled with perhaps 50 German tourists (just not the two I was looking for.) The waiter from my hotel spotted me. He works here as well.

The owner said I should come back in half an hour. It would be quieter then. Found a great little internet café and art gallery: the Puerto Café. Ordered a coffee and checked e-mail, then returned to the restaurant. The group was still dining, enjoying their wine. The owner suggested another half an hour.

Walked to a square where a free concert was underway. Walked past the Casino Puerta Varas and window-shopped along the main street. Returned to the restaurant. There was live entertainment now: a musical group was singing for the Germans and everyone was having a great time. They would not be leaving soon.

I rode around a bit more before deciding to go the the local Lider supermarket. Bought a couple empanadas and some snack foods.


Note to self: I have to be careful, as my cynicism often parades in the guise of "honesty"!


Dicky Neely said...

I have been staring at this pic and I just don't see the ski lift! I know my eyes are not what they used to be, but is it in the pic?
Looks like some radical skiing.

timtraveler said...

Sorry about that Dicky! You have to click on the picture for a larger view, then you should be able to see a couple grayish towers and some lift chairs hanging between the towers.

Dicky Neely said...