Chile

This was the view after a long travel day. We left our Airbnb in Austin at 11:00 last week on Wednesday. More than 24 hours later, after two flights and two drives we arrived at the lake side village of Villarrica named after the huge snow topped smoldering Volcan Villarrica and on the shores of Lago Villarrica (when you find a good name, stick to it).

Evan and Vivian are earning their keep by translating. It must look odd: imagine checking out at a grocery. A local asks a question. We say “por favor no habla Espanol”. Then we find Evan and put him in front. He carries on for a while. And then we’re magically done!

Chile is amazing. The Lake District is pure Chile but you can approximate it as a mix of Switzerland and Italy and New Zealand. The food is delicious – grilled meats prepared on fiery parrillas, great wine and craft beer, fresh local salmon, and more good quality bread than I’ve seen anywhere (yes, anywhere). The people are lovely. In the Huilo Huilo Biological Reserve where there was no internet, we found our cabin by asking a lady for directions who stopped a jogger on the sidewalk who in turn hopped into our car and took us to her sister who,it turns out, was the owner of the cabin. And at tiny Puerto Fuy we asked a girl who was swimming in the lake about kayak rentals and she informed us that she would be happy to rent us kayaks after her lunch swim.

There are more lakes than you can shake a stick at and each one is prettier than the last.

A couple of days ago we arrived to our cabin on the black lava shores of Lago Llanquihue about 20 km outside the town of PuertoVaras. Stately Volcan Osorno stands guard over us though her snowy top is mostly hidden in the clouds. The neighbor’s dogs immediately adopted us. Mocha is a Great Pyrenees and we’ve named her sidekick Latte. The black sand beach leads from the back deck to the blue lake. Sometimes the lake is placid like when we went paddle boarding and swimming yesterday. Today the waters are streaked with white waves and breakers are crashing on the beach. It is sporadically raining which doesn’t bother Mocha – she is laying out on the beach.

While the lakes are beautiful our thoughts keep returning to the coronavirus pandemic. Are our friends and family safe back home? Do we quit and return to Texas? Should we make a base somewhere in South America and ride it out? How bad is it going to get before it gets better?

Meanwhile, the grocery stores are normal down here. There’s plenty of toilet paper and wine on the shelves. I hope things are fine with you dear reader.

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