The park that wasn’t

Sorry these posts are coming in slow!

5.8.11

Yesterday, we went to the city of Castro, further inland, about 1.5 hours on a bus. It sounded great in Sophie’s Lonely Planet guidebook. After a good chunk of our day, though, we realized something. We were, after all, doing the things the guidebook suggested: saw the palafitos (houses on stilts), looked at a church, walked through a park, etc. Yet, we were still somehow bored.

So, today, we planned to go hiking in the Parque Nacional, via the town of Chepu. Lonely Planet said that buses left daily on the corner of the streets Marina and Arturo Prat, at a gas station at 6:30 am. We woke at 5:30, somehow blew the fuse, got ready in the dark, left at 6:00, arrived at the smaller bus terminal of the town with no sign of the streets we looked for, and couldn’t find anyone who knew what bus we were talking about. That’s when we realized how strange the guidebook’s suggestion actually was. Why would a bus leave — daily — from an obscure street corner so early in the morning, especially during the tourist off-season? Is that economically profitable?

We went back to the hostel and Googled.

Different sites led us in different directions, but some suggested that the “rural” bus terminal was what we wanted — on the the third floor of the grocery store “Bigger.” Again, I was baffled by this, but we went to the store anyways. Sure enough, there was a bus terminal on the 3rd floor. A bus driver told us it was indeed the right place! Welcome! Where would you like to go? — Chepu? — Of course! The next bus leaves at 4:00 pm!

No good.

We instead tried to find outdoor-sy stuff in Ancud to settle our desire to go hiking. Looking for a place called Aventuras Australes, we found old Spanish fortified walls above a beautiful, rocky beach. Pictures were taken ad we explored, though we were soon contacted by another gringa student traveling nearby. She and her parents were going down the Parque today as well. And then, I heard the best news of the week.

“We rented a car.”

As we drove, Sophie and I convinced them to go through Chepu as we had planned, though this turned out to be a big mistake. After about an hour of driving, we nearly bottomed out heading down a muddy dirt hill leading to a beach. We stopped back a ways where a man was chopping wood, and I stepped out to speak and translate. He said only a 4×4 could get down, but we could park our car and walk. Unfortunately, this would take 2 hours.

So, we turned around and went, once again, to Castro.

They had rented a hostel that was a palafito and completely stunning. Filled with woodwork (one of Chiloé’s specialties) and very stable with a very contemporary interior. The clerk told us a more successful route we could take to get to the Parque, and so we were off again.

The route took us from one side of the island to the other (which is easier width-wise than lengh-wise). After another hour of driving, we were finally paying park rangers and looking over a hiking map.  Luckily, the rain had stayed away. The landlady of our hospidaje had told us that Chiloé has four seasons a day, and she was right. Rain, sun, rainbows, repeat. Due to the mud, though, we couldn’t do more than an hour of exploring.

So, we turned around and went, once again, to Castro.

Our bizarre day of unsuccessful attempts was made better, in the end, by seafood and a pisco sour.

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