We took a little day trip out to Achao on the Isla Quinchao today. Sometimes you have days as great as today, and it reaffirms all the reasons why we are doing this. It’s also nice that it followed so closely to the disappointment of yesterday… We had an auspicious start when we shared breakfast with a Chileno couple staying at our hostel. He works as an architect and she as a research biologist. We were reminded once more of the love Seattle gets down here for the grunge music scene. I wonder when that reputation will no longer be there.
The bus ride was pleasant. Rolling hills of farmland, islands and ocean in every view. We finally got a glimpse of the Andes from Chiloé too. They looked so far away!
Arriving in Achao, we noticed a little festival happening next to the bus station. It was an agricultural fair offering a meet-and-greet with some local farm animals (llamas, sheet, ducks, etc), some live music, handcrafted wares, and lots of food. After touring the town church (a beautiful wooden church) and beach, we headed back to the fair to wait impatiently for the curanto to be served. Curanto is slow cooked in the ground, and with everyone around us thoroughly enjoying their cazuela, we nearly joined them…
When the plates were finally served, everyone who toughed out the long wait were rewarded with heaping piles of shellfish, milcaos, vegetables, potatoes, chicken and pork. Funny how a large amount of food can really bring out the social animal is us all. Halfway through our meal we began to talk with the lovely family sitting next to us. Once they learned about our trip, we were bombarded with suggestions of places to visit. The mom waxed poetic on the beauty of Easter Island. We learned about a wine festival in April in their home town. They insisted that we try the chicha de manzana, a cider made from local apples.
After saying our goodbyes to the family, we noticed a younger couple we had previously spoken with were sitting just down the table. They approached us almost immediately and we had a great conversation about all things south and north American. They wanted to take a trip in the states in the future and had a lot of questions. What is Texas like? We struggled with that one. Can you describe it in one word? Uh… conservative? The guy was a history student and really interested in Latin American cultural heritage. He also had a passion for urban spaces, and the current gentrification of some of his beloved Santiago neighborhoods. Partying was also an important topic for them. They suggested a number of bars in Santiago and told us to try a terremoto soon! In the end we got their contact information and hope to see them again in a few months.
Our bus ride back to Castro couldn’t have been more different than yesterday. As we pulled into the terminal we quickly mapped out our “to-do” list for the evening: groceries, bank, post office. After three days in town, we’re feeling very comfortable with how things operate here. At first, all towns seem chaotic, disorganized, loud, but we’re learned that if you spend long enough getting to know them, things get easier and you start to see the glass half-full.