Back to Santiago

After a couple more nights at the lakeside campsite, which I mostly spent swimming, drinking beer and reading, I figured it was time to get back on the road. The deciding factor was the growing number of people around me, particularly a party crowd to one side of my tent that made it impossible to sleep before 3-4 am, and a family crowd to the other that made it difficult to sleep past 7-8 am.

I had to scrap the idea of climbing up Osorno, my foot was still busted up. Better, but not good enough for me to head up there and potentially not have an easy way down and have to spend the night up there freezing my butt off. Despite the scorching days by the lake, a couple of the night were pretty chilly, going up a few thousand feet would definitely make for less comfortable sleeping. Oh well, next time…

I jumped on a bus going back the way I came, arriving in Puerto Varas an hour-ish later. I’d originally planned to just get to PV and jump on another bus to Frutillar, a small city to the north on the west side of the lake – where a classical music festival was set to begin the following day – but given my lack of sleep I decided to find a hostel instead. I found one a short distance up the hill from the waterfront and crashed out.

When I woke up I got to know my roommates a bit, they were a couple of young German guys who’d been hitching around southern Chile and working on farms for room & board while doing trekking and mountain climbing in between. Their three-month visas were just about up so they were on their way into Argentina to spend a few days then cross back over and continue doing the same, they intended on keeping that going for seven or eight months at least. It was a pretty chill scene around the hostel, felt like there might be a party happening – a few beers were cracked – but nothing really came of it.

The next morning I went down to the kitchen to put on some coffee and the Germans had some leftover breakfast they offered me – rice cooked in chocolate milk! I’d never heard of such a thing before but it was great, something that will definitely become a part of my future balanced breakfasts.

I jumped on a bus to Frutillar. We swung through the town of Llanquihue – the town that gives the lake its name – and although it was small it looked like a nice place. There were large wooden objets d’art everywhere lining the streets, and we drove past a Stihl-sponsored event where guys with chainsaws were carving up new pieces. Frutillar was larger than I expected but divided into two distinct parts, the “real” city and the tourist district, the latter being more quaint and lakeside, whereas the remainder was a lot of apartment buildings and supermarkets and really could’ve been anywhere.

Plan Frutillar was for me to get drunk on cheap wine then try to either get cheap seats for classical music performances, or even better – find outdoor performances and just hang out by the fence with a box of Gato. No luck though, all of the performances seemed to be taking place in one lakeside auditorium, and the soonest show with tickets available was two days off. Compounding the situation was the lack of accommodations – a lot of places were full, and even the campgrounds were packed tent-to-tent. Many people’s yards were packed with tents as well, with people squatting around playing violin and other instruments. Pretty cool scene but I didn’t feel like another squashed-up campground so soon, nor did I feel like waiting two days for a performance. (The upcoming one with available seats had a name that was pretty interesting though, something like “The Fear of Terror” or something like that??)







Before finding a bus out I stopped in at a little bar with another of these clock-shaped buildings attached, similar to the one I saw walking out of Puerto Varas ten days ago or so. A quick beer and a steak sandwich and I was out.


I took the bus right back to Puerto Montt, hoping to get a bus to Santiago from there rather than screwing about at the smaller bus stations in Frutillar or Puerto Varas. With a few hours to kill I headed back to a cafe I’d been both previous visits in Puerto Montt called The Dresden. While waiting for some overpriced chicken nachos and sipping a brew I read the back of the menu… it explained the nautical feel of the place:

The light cruiser Dresden sailed from the German port of Kiel, on Dec. 27 193, under the command of frigate captain Erick Kohler, bound for Veracruz Mexico, on a mission to guard their compatriots, before an imminent civil war.

Seven months into the mission, the Dresden was relieved by the Cruiser Karlsrulhe. The Dresden now was commanded by Captain Fritz Emil Ludecke, who was informed about the beginning of the 1st World War.

Since that moment the Dresden navigated through the Atlantic toward the south, intercepting enemy merchant traffic and taking their food and fuel.

The Dresden participated in the Naval Battle of Coronel on the Chilean coast, the 1st day of November 1914, and won the battle.

The British took revenge in the naval battle of the Falkland Islands on Dec. 8 of that year. The Dresden escaped, using its turbines, becoming the fastest cruise fighter.

After crossing Cape Horn looking for deep waters to hide, the ship was painted gray, in order to confuse it with the Chilean Naval vessels.

In the inner channels it was provided with firewood for its boilers and fresh water for its crew. From Pta. Arenas it was assisted by two compatriots, experts from bay, who guided the German cruiser through various channels, bypassing the English Squad, who had placed a price for the capture of the Dresden. A malfunction in its machines forced it to hide in the fjord Quintupeu. The German Colony of Pto. Montt helped to repair the damaged parts and supply food.

After a forced stay of more than three years in Chile, part of the crew managed to flee in Goleta Tinto, with the help of a few German families in the area. Several of these German crew members settled in the region, leaving some customs with their culinary traditions, such as pastries. Their recipes have gone from one generation to another. Today you can taste these pastries in the cafe-restaurant bearing the name of the glorious Cruiser Dresden.

Not sure how much of that’s true, the pastries seemed just like those on offer everywhere else. The chicken nachos were lame as fuck so I know they didn’t come via the Dresden, the Kaiser wouldn’t abide weakass nachos like that.

I splurged on a decent seat on the bus – fully-reclining style – and fell asleep shortly after I saw the movie of the night was that piece of shit Jack Ryan flick. The bus driver woke me up as we arrived in Santiago around 7 am or so and leaving the bus station I jumped on the subway and headed back to Bellavista, but the Kombi Hostel – where I stayed previously with the boys – was full. I just rambled to the west towards the Patronado neighbourhood, mostly because that’s where I found awesome Korean food last time, and found a place called Hostel Casa Mosaica. I had to wait around until 2 pm for check-in but they let me chill in the common area until then.

An Aussie lady a little older than myself limped in not long behind me, also coming from Patagonia, but having flown from Punta Arenas that morning. She (I found later her name was Teri) had been trekking Torres del Paine and had pulled a ligament in her foot. Another foot injury, weird. The bar adjoining the hostel opened for lunch so she grabbed a beer for the common room, inspiring me to follow suit. We grabbed some lunch and a couple more beers and headed up to the rooftop terrace. Really interesting person to speak with, she was a part-time lawyer involved with various sustainability causes.

She decided to take a nap but I had a half-decent buzz on by this point so I ventured out to the nearest botilleria, grabbed a six-pack and some reading and vegged out in ~32 centigrade sun for the rest of the afternoon.

My state of beered-up heat stroke was broken when an absolutely stunning girl walked over and asked me for a lighter in a French accent. I passed mine over and she pulled up a seat. She had her foot up because she’d cut her big toe open, it looked gnarly – and another foot injury, so weird. I asked her wtf and she pointed to the corrugated steel roof next door and left it at that. Not sure if she meant she cut it on a piece of steel in general or if she did so while Catwomaning around on the neighbours’ roof. It turned out she was from France but was living in Santiago and getting ready to move into a nearby apartment the next day. After her smoke she declared, “I can’t move around with this foot, fuck this day, I’m going back to bed.”

Teri came up to roof having finished her siesta and asked for directions to the Korean place I’d been hyping up. I offer to chug my beer and just take her there. She was limping really bad now, using a hiking pole as a crutch basically, I felt bad for dragging her almost four blocks over but even worse when the place was inexplicably closed. We stopped into another place on the way back and were pleasantly surprised.

Called Tren-Unel, it was dimly-lit joint playing funky Cuban music (Cuban according to Teri, who knew her Spanish and Latin music well) with weird stuff hanging all over the place from the ceiling, like wooden utensils, musical instruments, parts of a broken hookah, and empty beer bottles. Dozens of old homemade mix-tape cassettes were strung together and hanging around like bead curtains.

The staff brought out a small menu, apparently re-written every evening, with three starter options and three main course options. Two of each contained seafood so my options were limited, but it didn’t matter, both turned out awesome. My starter was a cold pumpkin soup with hot spices, watermelon seeds, angel hair pasta, and small pieces of avocado and frozen tomato. It was served in a large wine glass, so I wasn’t sure whether I was supposed to drink it or eat it with a spoon, and ended up doing both. Really strange but fantastic. The main course was gnocchi with goat cheese, more watermelon seeds, and maybe eggplant? There were some other vegetables in there, it was bizarre, never tasted anything like it, but it was great. I topped that off with a couple of artisanal red ales (forgot the company) that were darker than normal red ale and had a nut flavour to them, really great as well.

I tossed around the idea of grabbing another few beers – there were folks drinking up on the terrace, and Teri joined them – but my on-and-off sleep on the bus and day full of sunny beer drinking had caught up with me so I crashed out to the dorm room.

I can’t recall if I’ve mentioned this or not, but barring any hiccups I should have my Australian work visa late this week or early the next. Looks like the end of this run is probably near…