On Chiloe Island

Landing, I rode south to the main island town of Ancud for fuel and cash, then kept going to Dalcahue, a small fishing village, to stay at the hotel there for the night.  In the morning I decided to venture still further south to the town of Castro, a whole 19kms away, for a looksee.  In the lovely town square, near where I parked, there was an Ecuadorian traditional folk group playing and singing.  They were dressed for the part, in what looked surprisingly like North American Indian clothing (spoiled somewhat by the bright orange joggers worn by one member), and the surrounds of the performance area were awash in feathers, pictures of wolves and symbolic icons common to the North American Indians.

But the music was brilliant!  Basically a backing soundtrack from their CDs, with the members overplaying it with an astonishing array of woodwind instruments and whistles, some of the strangest construction and shape, and clusters of wooden beads, shells or nuts, used for rattling.  One instrument, probably a bamboo tube about 4 foot long, was shaped like the Australian Aboriginal didgeridoo, but it wasn't blown into, it was merely turned from end to end close to the microphone, like an egg-timer.  I couldn't quite identify what sound it was issuing, though.  At times, 2 of the performers would come out in front and dance to the music, again, much in the dance style of Native American Indians.  I stood and watched/listened, totally entralled, to the whole performance.  Wonderful, soul seаring stuff!  I was hooked - I bought all 5 of their CDs, for a measley A$7 each!

I visited the Tourist Information centre in the Town Square, and was blown away by the display of fabulous wooden models of the town's many churches, made to exact scale, by a local craftsman.  Such intricate, demanding work, with cutaways on some, showing the underlying structural beams and trusses.  Gobsmackingly incredible, to say the least.  I've also noticed, in other towns and villages, that woodworking, and scale models in particular, is a fine art, and very popular, here in Chile.

And they have LOVELY icecream in Castro, too!

There was a funeral being held in the Catholic Church (see photos of church) just over from the Town Square.  A simple wreath lay on the casket in the white Mercedes-Benz hearse (not like the florist-shop affairs in Oz) as the procession moved away - the slow moving hearse with a couple of hundred or more people walking behind. Fortunately, most cemeteries in South America appear to be situated either in the town itself (often right in the centre) or very close by, as it would be distressing having to walk kilometres in the hot sun behind your loved one/friend on their final journey.

Having lunched on the lawn in the Town Square, it was eventually time to leave, heading back to the mainland.  The road north was quite good, with a few sweepers to break any monotony, and little traffic.  The vegetation by the roadside was profuse and varied, such that I just had to stop and take some photos of the trees with beautiful round, white flowers that I had been seeing all over the island.  And there were several other flowering trees and plants right where I stopped, too.  Lord knows what the locals passing by thought of me wandering around taking photos of trees!

Through Ancud, the island's main town and on to Chacao to catch the ferry. It is an extremely busy little crossing, with no less than 8 ferries (4 from each of 2 companies) plying the stretch of water simultaneously when I arrived at the dock.  There are no timetables - when a ferry has a sufficient load of vehicles, it leaves the ramp immediately, allowing the next ferry to berth and unload, then load and depart. And by "immediately", I mean just that.  I watched one loading.  As the whistle blew signalling imminent departure, as soon as the currently loading car's wheels were up off the access ramp onto the deck, the ferry was gone!  No hanging around at all.

It was a falsely smooth sailing, as I discovered to my horror, when the bike suddenly fell over onto it's righthand side. The swell was barely perceptible.  I thought there was none, so wasn't paying all that much attention, although I stood on the righthand side, remembering the higher swells on the previous crossing.

But a male passenger quickly sprang to help me lift it back up.  No damage, just a mirror moved a little.  So I went back to watching the seals and dolphins.

Then I rode off the ferry.