During our stay in the Chilean Lake district we decided to take a few days and explore the nearby island of Chiloe.
The island is just a couple of hours drive Southwest of Puerto Montt, then a 20 minute car ferry ride. The best adjective we have for Chiloe is “funky”. The bed-and-breakfast that Suzanne found for us required that we enter through a small gated retail space, ring a bell, walk up a flight of stairs, turn a few corners, walk up another flight of stairs, duck under a threshold, proceed through two locked doors, and viola – we were home! Chiloe has a very distinctive architecture that is derived from their long history of building wooden boats. Many of the buildings are constructed of wood and each has a “custom” look – like the owners have tinkered with the buildings over the years, adding a bit here, and a bit there. Many of the buildings seemed “old and beat-up”, but when I consider how much maintenance is required to keep wooden buildings looking good, I’m much less critical.
(Having owned a house with wood siding myself, I realize how much maintenance is required to keep the building looking fresh.) However, when a building had a fresh coat of bright paint, it really stands out. The locals are very proud of the many brightly painted wooden churches constructed throughout the island. I was particularly impressed with the “wooden cathedral” we walked through in the town of Castro.
According to an English family from Warwick we met in the hotel, we were a few weeks too late to see the penguins. The majority of them had already migrated South, so we decided to take a drive to Castro and explore. We ended up walking through most of the town, checked out the iconic brightly painted houses built on stilts, the wooden cathedral, and had lunch at a local fish restaurant. We knew the salmon were running because we saw them jumping out of the river while rafting a few days before, so we made point of having lunch at a local fish restaurant. Patrick downed a plate of mussels, Alex went after the crab, and Suzanne and I tried the salmon served in the traditional Chiloe style – which was two salmon steaks served like a sandwich. Awesome.