Sunday, February 28, 2010


The 8.8 earthquake struck near Concepción, Chile on February 27, 2010, and is one of the largest ever recorded. I missed the event, having left Chile on Feb. 16. Thanks to the many family and friends who have expressed concern.

Information is becoming available, though slowly. The best source I found is La Tercera, the online newspaper from Santiago. The Huffington Post has had some good links.

Google has developed a Chile earthquake person finder.

Click here to see how you can help.

Friday, February 26, 2010

The food collection 2010

Food is culture. Here are some memorable food experiences during my visit to Chile, January and February 2010 (Click to enlarge any photo)

One of my favorites, an appetizer of fresh erizo (sea urchin), with cilantro, onion, and lemon juice. The wine is important also.

This was a welcome find after a long walk on a country road near Lake Caburgua one summer day. A vegetable treat of beans, green beans, carrots, squash and corn. The slice of roast pork on top was almost unnecessary, though much enjoyed. The fresh raspberry juice was a hit.

Another summer day, now in Angelmó, at the fish market in Puerto Montt, I spied these freshly cooked centolla (king crab).

I paid US$10 and this gentleman cracked and otherwise prepared this delicacy. I ate it there, without lemon, as is. Great flavor.

Next is the popular mariscal at the market in Castro, Chiloé Island. Freshly shucked clams is the main ingredient, with some piure (limpet) added for color and flavor, topped with cilantro, onion, and fresh chili pepper. Great quantities of fresh lemon juice is the marinade. US$2 buys a pint, to take home or devour on the spot.

For a sit down meal in a palafito restaurant in Castro, a curanto is served hot with broth on the side. Mussels, clams, fish, smoked pork, chicken, and potato bread are cooked together.

Another day I visit the town of Quemchi. I buy a kilo of clams and this young man kindly opens them and provides the splash of lemon.

Carbonada, a meat and vegetable stew, always a winner.

But sometimes the best meal is a cheese sandwich on the trail, in awe...

Friday, February 12, 2010

Puerto Octay

(Click to enlarge any photo)

The small town of Puerto Octay is located on the northern shore of the third largest lake in South America, Lago Llanquihue (540 square miles), just north of Puerto Montt, gateway to the Lake District of southern Chile. Once an important point for the shipping of agricultural products during the years 1852-1952, Octay is now a sleepy town visited by tourists for some of the best photo opportunities in the region.

Osorno Volcano from Hotel Centinela

Cerro Puntiagudo and Puerto Octay

Invited by the Chilean government to settle the lands around Lake Llanquihue, German immigrants began arriving in the coastal town of Valdivia in 1852. Most were people of means who brought entire families, household items, and farm implements. The government provided each family with specific parcels of land, lumber, nails, a pregnant cow, and a yoke of oxen. They began to populate the area surrounding the large lake, forming small communities.

Puerto Octay became the place where farmers brought their products to be shipped across the lake to Puerto Varas, and then by land to Puerto Montt, where they could then be shipped to other points along the Pacific coast.

The first families to arrive in Puerto Octay were Wulf, Klagges, Schmidt and Ochs, among others. Some built their houses in the town.

Casa Yagoda, 1885. I had a nice lunch here today.

The Wulf House, now home of the Puerto Octay Health Dept.

I was fortunate to find a wonderful bed & breakfast about a mile and a half outside of town, Zapato Amarillo. It is owned (and built) by a young Chilean-Swiss family. It is a supremely quiet and lovely place in the gentle countryside, with Osorno Volcano constantly in the view.

I have a room in this house at Zapato Amarillo. Señora Nadia offers dinner in the evening for guests, with some of the best cooking I have encountered in this country. (There I go talking food again!)

Appreciative of their history, the town has provided a modern barn built in the old style which houses a large exhibit of farm machinery.

Butter churn

A not so historic house, but colorful.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Isla Quehui, part 2

Getting to know the island is easy by foot and by horse.
(Click on any photo to enlarge)

The countryside is typical of so much of this part of Chile, both insular and continental. Low rolling hills of volcanic soil are bathed in quantities of rain, producing a lush vegetation that must be constantly cleared for agricultural use.

One of the main roads on Quehui.

Below you can see the two parts of the island with Estero Pindo almost dividing it into two islands. The community of Los Angeles is in the distance. Further on is Lemuy Island, another in this archipelago.

Another view of Los Angeles, this on a walk with Lorena in the San Miguel district.

Don Pedro offered to show me much of the island by horse. Problem was, there were no stirrups on the saddle, so my legs went numb after the first of five hours.

We passed by Peldehue district, an area where most people are a shade darker, closer to their Huilliche ancestors. Every district has a church.

This next photo is Imelev Island, owned by the Torres family, descendants of John Yates, an English sailor on the ship Beagle that carried Charles Darwin around the continent. The locals tell me he settled on Quehui Island in 1834 and married into the Torres family. He died in 1900.

Patricio thinks he is buried here next to his granddaughter Lavinia (1916-2008). There are some blue eyed citizens on the island. The family is a large landholder here.

The eroding cliff is a colorful sight. We rode along the beach for a few miles.

Now and then I had to dismount and stretch my legs for ten minutes at a time. First steps were difficult. The absence of stirrups reminded me how much they are needed for balance.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Chiloé Island, Castro and Quemchi

This is how you get to the big island of Chiloé from the Chilean mainland. The crossing takes about 20 minutes and about 3 of these ships are in constant use. I take a bus from Puerto Montt, arriving in Castro about 3-4 hours later, depending on the weather conditions.

Downtown Castro, not much to look at, but it has great charm. It mostly serves as a jumping off point to visit interesting places on the big island.

Here is the cathedral in Castro, built 1910-12 of native alerce wood.

Good food too. Those that know me have heard much about my gastronomic experiences in Chile. Here is a serving of pulmay, or curanto a la olla. It is served in one of the palafito restaurants on the waterfront.

Corn and watermelon are offered on the street in Castro, though are grown further north.

About one hour north of Castro is the town of Quemchi, birthplace of Francisco Coloane (1910-2002), one of Chile's great writers. He often returned to his home town to organize writing workshops for school children.

The church in Quemchi. The churches of Chiloé all represent an architecture introduced by Jesuits in previous centuries. All are made of native wood.

A kilo (2.2 lbs.) of fresh clams here cost about one US dollar. A splash of fresh lemon juice is all that is needed.

Heaven is a bowl of fresh clams.

Running a close second is a steaming bowl of carbonada, meat and vegetable stew.