Sunday, January 19, 2014

Surviving Sea Kayaking

One thing about my husband is he loves kayaking.  Anytime he we have the opportunity to do it we do (Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines)!  I don't mind it, but would enjoy it much more if I didn't have to paddle. :)  So I thought it would be fun for him us to go kayaking in the fjords of Patagonia.  

I scheduled it for our last full day in Puerto Varas.  We were picked up from our hotel bright and early.  We drove for awhile, and ended up at the company's headquarters.  A quick change in to sexy warm wetsuits and the loading of kayaks and we were on our way. 

My sexy man
Once we arrived to our "put in" location we were again slapped in the face with God's beauty.  We unloaded the kayaks and got a quick lesson before heading out into the water.  After about 10 minutes I was good for the day, that's when we found out we would be going a cool 16 km.  Hmmmm...

Before our journey 
Jess and I were assigned what the guide called the "divorce kayak". He said it's a true test for couples.  We were confident we could make it work.  FYI-- During the test Jess came up with a new nickname for me: Squirrel (think dog from Up) because my paddling is so erratic.  To my defense I just got lost in the beauty of our surroundings. :)

About 10 km in we stopped at a cute traditional farm house.  I was glad we did, because I was secretly getting tired and I didn't want to be the first of our group to ask for a break.  We had an amazing lunch, got a little tour, chatted awhile, and headed back in the kayaks.

We slid back in our kayak and kayaked the remaining 5 or so km successfully.  I would dare to say we even had a good rhythm for a couple of minutes.

The top things we learned to survive the divorce kayak.  #1: Communication is key. A count doesn't really help, but using nice loving voices does.

#2: Don't take yourself too seriously. It's not a race and if it is, you probably won't win taking pictures along the way (not very professional).

# 3: Have fun and enjoy the ride.  How many other times will you get to do this with your love. Laugh, splash water, and sing to your hearts content.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Osorno Volcano

Every morning when we woke up and each night before we slept we had the most amazing views from our hotel of the Osorno volcano.  Luckily for us we booked a day trip to go see it without even knowing how amazing it would be.  

Our view each day...not bad.
The day started early and we headed straight to the volcano.  The drive up was breathtaking with views of the lake and mountains.  (Mom you would have hated it with all the twists and turns). When we reached base camp we immediately got out and were in awe.  Jaime, our guide, was laughing at us and kept saying we had further up to go.  

Osorno from a distance
We took the ski lifts up to the top and walked ran around like little kids.  Literally, we were running around playing with the snow, picking up volcanic rocks, and laughing the whole time.  We climbed up to the glacier and dug our feet in. We climbed up to the a peak and sat to enjoy the view. All I kept saying was, "This is so cool. I can't believe we are on a volcano." I'm sure it got pretty annoying, but wowzers!  

Standing on a glacier

Taking it all in

We had the option to zip-line down and of course Jess picked that.  Little did I know we were both signed up.  I'm not a huge fan of heights, especially not when you combined them with trusting cables and speed, but Jess insisted I do it.  I'm so glad I did, it was freeing to feel the wind in my face and have a 360 degree view of beauty.  Once again a reason why I am glad I married this man.  He pushes me to my limits. 

The crater is where an eruption was. Interesting fact...Osorno erupts from the sides, not the top.  
We decided to take the zip-line down 

After we conquered Osorno we went to Emerald Lake to have an amazing lunch at a cute little hotel with a view.  We wandered around and took in the views (again...are you noticing a theme).  The water in the lake was incredible.  It was so clear and such a beautiful color.  The water however, was FREEZING.  There were little kids playing in it that didn't seem to mind the frigid temps.  I guess we were the same when we were little--mouths purple, shivering, and goosebumps. 

Emerald Lake has access into Argentina.

The highest point is a volcano that is shared by Chile and Argentina.  

After the lake we headed to a forrest and waterfall.  Everything in the area had life, and being a nature novice I couldn't tell the different species or types of trees, birds, and such, but I could appreciate how it all flourished together.  One of my favorite things about our day was how diverse each part of it was, yet how close everyone was together.  We visited mountains, a volcano, lake, waterfall, forrest, farm all in the same area.

These trees inspired Walt Disney to make Bambi.   

On the way home we stopped at a little German farm.  It had emus, cows, dogs, cats, deer, llamas, chicken, and other animals I'm sure I'm forgetting.  We walked around and got super close to the animals.  However, we didn't stay long because Sneezy Jess was allergic and could not stop sneezing.

The national tree of Chile.
An emu
A baby deer was born a couple of hours before we stopped at this little farm.

Petting a llama, little did we know this was the cause of Jess' allergic reaction.
When we returned we enjoyed some Chardonnay sours while watching the sunset (slowly).  Then we headed to dinner  at a local restaurant Jaime recommended and stuffed our faces with king crabs.  All in all a great day.


Monday, January 13, 2014

Penguins in Patagonia (Chiloe Island)

Our first full day in Puerta Varas we went to Chiloe Island to see the penguins! The day started off dreary and grey, and a tad bit chilly.  We were a little bummed, but our guide, Jaime, assured us it would end up beautiful.  We took a ferry to get there, catching glimpses of penguins swimming, sea lions basking on the buoys, and pelicans diving down for lunch.  It was incredible to see so many different types of wildlife in their natural environment.  

Handsome man on the ferry

Pointing to our destination (in the cold)
Our first stop was to the town square.  It had a bunch of little shops and of course, like all other little towns on the island, a church.  This church is protected by UNESCO and is very unique/innovative for the time.  When the town was taken over from the natives the first thing they did was build a church.  They needed the townspeople to help, and the townspeople had no clue how to build something that big. They relied on what they knew best, boats.  They constructed the building using boat building techniques.  The roof is an upside down boat. Pretty ingenious if you ask me. 
The town church 
Another interesting thing about the church is its Jesus.  He is wearing a pancho because they wanted to keep their traditions even after being invaded.

Jesus with a pancho
This island is full of folktales to explain nature and the lives of the villagers.  They were/are very superstitious and still rely on the stories today.  El Trauco (below) is a creature that steals women and takes them for a night in the forrest.  When they come back they are pregnant and give birth to his baby in due time.  This story of course, is to protect the children born out of wedlock so they wouldn't be socially degraded.  If you were a child of el Trauco, you had a dad and therefore weren't ashamed.

Us and the trauco, a local folk legend

We made a unscheduled stop along the coast for fresh oysters  
Jaime also took us to the daily market.  For some reason I love going to markets around the world.  You really get to see how daily life is for the locals.  This market had permanent stalls for the locals and then it had rentable (is that a word) stalls for the people coming from the different islands.  A lot of the sales aren't with money, but rather trades for needed items.  

The towns market, the tied up brown stuff in the top right corner is seaweed.

Garlic? Yes please.
A local we met. He was one of the few survivors of an earthquake in the early 1900s.
 Finally, we were headed to the penguin island, but not without stopping for some beautiful views. Jess said it the coast reminded him of northern Cali.  JB, is that true?

Beautiful view

Getting close to the penguins! We saw this sign on the way. 
We got to the penguin beach/island and I was so excited. I felt like a little kid at Christmas.  We put our lifejackets on and were off.  Now I feel like I need to explain, Chile (or the parts we saw of it) keeps nature how it is and doesn't ruin it.  I was fully expecting to hold the penguins and feed them.  Thankfully a friend told me before hand we would just slowly circle around the island in order to not disturb the penguins and their environment.  I was a little selfish disappointed at first, but then realized it was such a cool experience and I want to leave them in peace so they can go on living their cute little lives.  

Our boat
Jess made a friend
Cute little guys kept slipping into the water 

I was doing a happy feet dance seeing this little guys

King of the hill 

Sea lion basking waiting to catch some penguins

Just a little excited! 
The island in the background is where the penguins have their nests (and where we saw them). 
 We had lunch where the fishermen and penguin patrol (?) eat.  It was a cute little restaurant that the wives of the men ran with some awesome seafood pastels, fish, and pil pil (sauce).  After lunch we headed to the beach we saw earlier.  We relaxed and took in the pure peacefulness of being on a deserted beach in Patagonia.  It was beautiful, there were even wild horses and cows walking along in the distance.

Watching the tide roll in 
Footprints and freedom

Just us and creation
Cloud's reflection in the water
The fisherman's town behind us
The landscape was so beautiful and diverse...
We really enjoyed our time on Chiloe Island and were so happy the sky ended up being clear and beautiful.  Actually we were very fortunate with the weather the whole time we were in Patagonia, a man we were talking with said it rained for 8 days before we got there.  Thank you Lord for giving us great weather!

Up next...Osorno volcano.