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From Rio Calle Calle to Lago Pirihueico

Now that a hard-surfaced byway has been opened from Valdivia directly east to Los Lagos, a superb road trip across the spectacular 14th Region of Chile, the Región de los Rios, is a journey worth taking.
Valdivia, on the Rio Calle Calle and the Rio Valdivia

Valdivia, on the Rio Calle Calle and the Rio Valdivia

Valdivia is a special city, partly because the Spanish settlement, founded in 1552, was subsequently settled by Germans in the mid-1800s, but also because it reigns over the beautiful Rio Calle Calle, in which, says the popular cueca, “se está bañando la luna“; the moon bathes.  The infusion of German culture is reflected to this day in the architecture of magnificent old wooden homes, corrugated metal buildings, food featuring kuchen, beer, sausages and crudos, or steak tartare, and prevailing last names like Haussman, Anwandter, and Kuntsmann. What’s more, whoever designed the Pan-American highway, Chile’s north-south transportation backbone, chose to bypass Valdivia by enough to render her sort of isolated and somewhat indifferent to the passage of time. Admittedly, Valdivia has not modernized as much as other Chilean cities, except that finally there is a five-star hotel with a casino, Dreams, the ultimate sign of urban progress in today’s Chile. Because of the slowness of Valdivia to modernize, it is possible to hear visitors comment negatively on the city, as did one of our recent visitors from the U.S., who informed us after a short visit there that “Valdivia is disappointing, dirty, boring, and what’s more, the beer is not as good as the artisan beers produced in Oregon.”  Well I beg to differ, except for the beer comment which, being a committed wine drinker, I can ignore.

Valdivia on the Rio Calle Calle

Valdivia on the Rio Calle Calle

Valdivia is a community that must be walked to be appreciated. It needs to be discovered slowly. I have known Valdivia from my Peace Corps days in the late 1960s; I was attracted to it then, and still today find a certain comfortable “feel” to it. At that time, almost a half century ago, the forestry school at the Austral University was becoming an important contributor to the development of Chile’s nascent forestry sector, and several Peace Corps Volunteers, trained ecologists, entomologists, and pathologists, were assigned to the University for their two-year tour of service. (there were other Volunteers in Valdivia too, working in nursing and education).

It had been awhile since my last visit to Valdivia so when good friends Luisa and Lionel suggested we take a few days away from Santiago to visit Valdivia and the snow-capped Andes to its east, we jumped at the opportunity to reacquaint ourselves with this part of southern Chile.  Actually, we confirmed that there is plenty to do in Valdivia, although admittedly it involves simple pleasures. The lovely university campus features an extensive botanical garden open to the public, a good place to start familiarizing yourself with the natural Valdivian environment.  We explored several old neighborhoods, searching unsuccessfully in one for a well known artist’s studio. After walking around the center of town, we relaxed for some traditional people-watching in the central park, a classic Spanish colonial plaza with its ornate metal band stand for Sunday concerts provided by the carabinero band (or the Club Musical Eleuterio Ramirez’s Banda de Collico if it can be brought together for the occasion). The imposing cathedral, stoic survivor of several record breaking earthquakes, keeps watch over all from across the street. We ended our walking city tour at the Entre Lagos Café to sample delicious thick hot chocolate and purchase several boxes of their famous freshly-made-on-the-spot dark chocolates.

 

Several of the places I remembered from my visits to Valdivia over five decades still exist; the Café Palace continues to welcome with good food and friendly service, and La Bomba Bar clings to its corner position a couple of blocks from the central park. The latter clearly has not changed, nor seemingly has it been cleaned, since the 1960s. Lionel and I stuck our heads in just to check, and it appeared very possible that some of the same characters who were there a half century ago are still glued to their favorite chairs in the front room bar, still watching reruns of a soccer game or a Venezuelan soap opera and still drinking big glasses of draft Kuntsmann beer.

Flower section of Valdivia Market

Flower section of Valdivia Market

A morning stroll through the riverside market in Valdivia is a must. This market features fresh and diverse fish (salmon, conger eel called congrio, true sea bass named corvina (not what is sold in the US as “Chilean sea bass”, which is not a bass but more accurately a “Patagonian tooth fish” found in very cold waters in the south of Chile and the Malvinas islands), and heaping piles of shiny shellfish and crustaceans like mussels of all sizes, oysters, different types of clams, crabs, sea urchins, and maybe you’ll find some increasingly scarcer and sadly smaller locos, Chile’s delicious abalone-like sea snail.

Merluza filets, ready for the pan

Merluza filets, ready for the pan

Mussels and clams in the Valdivia market

Mussels and clams in the Valdivia market

There are also colorful displays featuring local temperate climate fruits, vegetables, mushrooms, preserves, honey, and pine nuts from the Araucaria tree. In season you can buy small bags of toasted energy-packed avellana, a native hazelnut, and if you are lucky you will find some of the slimy ball-shaped light colored edible fungus Chileans call dihueñe, found growing on trees in the temperate Valdivian forest but available for only very short periods, and freshly cut flowers including an occasional bunch of the national flower, the copihue, flaunting its bright red or white waxy petals.

Oysters and edible seaweed

Oysters and edible seaweed

An additional attraction at this market is entertainment provided daily by a maritime orchestra of barking sea lions that flop on and off the cement wharf, directly behind the fish stands, noisily scoffing up snootfuls of easy-to-catch leftovers from the fish vendors.

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Sea lions waiting for lunch at the valdivia fish market

Colorful river boats tie up along the same wharf, several with restaurants offering the classic seafood medley called curanto as they cruise to the mouth of the Rio Valdivia at Niebla and back, an interesting half or full day excursion. Smaller boats run shorter tours of the Rios Calle Calle, Cau Cau, Cruces, and Valdivia, which come together, blending their waters here before flowing to the sea as the Valdivia River.  We enjoyed a relaxing two-hour tour (longer tours are available) that offered close up views of the surrounding wetlands characteristic of the whole area but especially the Carlos Anwandter Nature Reserve known for its black necked swans. Reportedly, and hopefully, these majestic birds are reestablishing themselves here after a criminal chemical contamination from a new chemical pulp mill killed or drove away most of them several years ago.

Tour boats on Valdivia River, to Niebla and back

Tour boats on Valdivia River, to Niebla and back

We passed newly established upscale hillside residential developments all along both sides of the Isla Teja, and viewed from the river the oldest mansions and churches that made up early Valdivia. To honor the iconic swans and the hundreds of bird species that make the Valdivian wetlands their home at least part of the year, and taking advantage of some ice cold Cuello Negro beer thoughtfully brought along by the boat’s pilot, Lionel and I toasted to the successful repopulation of the swans in their rightful Valdivian wetlands habitat.

Boat tour on Calle Calle, Cau Cau, Cruces, and Valdivia rivers

Boat tour on Calle Calle, Cau Cau, Cruces, and Valdivia rivers

Halfway along the Rio Cau Cau portion of the tour, we drifted by a new half finished draw bridge, an unfortunate example of how badly good ideas can go if implementation fails an apparently well designed plan. This bridge was meant to connect the two sides of the Rio Cau Cau, something residents on both sides have been awaiting many years. It had to be a drawbridge to allow the increasingly bigger ships being built at the Asinav shipyard a way to the Rio Valdivia via the Rio Cruces, out to sea and on to their final destinations. Failures of the lifting mechanism have not been corrected after months of litigation. The now permanently open drawbridge, unusable with no resolution in sight, makes you wonder why there seem to be so many large transportation projects in Chile that may look good on paper, but suffer in execution. Failed revitalization of the railroads and the troubled TranSantiago bus system come to mind.

Since our arrival, Lionel and I had been developing an urge to indulge in Valdivia’s iconic crudo, so we stopped at the place best known for this delicious combination of raw ground beef, chopped onions, pickles, a raw egg, all moistened with lemon juice and accompanied by slices of dense black rye bread.

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A crudo at Haussmann’s cafe

The Haussman Café, a small bar with several tables located right in the center of town, is friendly and efficient; they suggest you wash down the crudo with their own beer, Cerveza Bundor, so we did, lots of it. Ximena and Luisa rejected the offer of raw beef, and instead ordered juicy roast pork sandwiches, lomitos, probably the most enduring Chilean sandwich kept popular (or vice versa) by the Fuente Alemana in Santiago.

Haussmann Cafe, best place for crudos.

Haussmann Cafe, best place for crudos.

Unfortunately, the old Hotel Schuster has been closed now for many years. It was a warm place where you were welcomed in the bar with “the best pisco sours in Chile”. It’s corrugated metal building still sits proudly on the side street that stretches between the central park and the river.  The Centro Alemán and the Protectora de Empleados Particulares, both restaurants that were on the plaza, have disappeared. These very popular places were open to the hungry, thirsty, and lonely; this category often included Peace Corps Volunteers who lived in and near Valdivia, and their visitors.

Building where Hotel Schuster was located

Building where Hotel Schuster was located

One old haunt familiar in the past to the forestry community, is the Guata Amarilla, a rustic restaurant serving roast lamb, grilled beef, fried fish, steamed shellfish, and plenty of wine and beer, a favorite venue for dinners and celebrations linked to meetings of foresters at the university. This is where I and many other young foresters and forestry students honed our rayuela and rana skills, the two being games played mostly in the Chilean countryside, in which the players try to toss some object (coin, rock etc.) into a sand pit coming close to or on top of a string stretched across the pit (rayuela), or into the mouth of a brass frog mounted on a wooden box and placed a few meters away (rana). The Guata Amarilla is a true picada, the label given informally to a small, family owned traditional restaurant mostly patronized by locals in search of basic, abundant, inexpensive but tasty Chilean food. It sits along the main highway that enters Valdivia from the north, so when we entered town the day before, we had stopped by to check it out. I am happy to say that not much has changed, including the oft repeated promise that “we are going to renovate the place this summer”. They haven’t done it for decades, and probably they didn’t do it that summer either; actually I hope they don’t. It sits on the shore of the Rio Calle Calle and is worth a visit, especially if they have not “renovated” it. Don’t bother to dress up for the occasion.

Restaurant Guata Amarilla, on the Calle Calle river near Valdivia

Restaurant Guata Amarilla, on the Calle Calle river near Valdivia

Notwithstanding the nostalgia for the historic eating spots now gone, there are plenty of new places we enjoyed on our visit: Pisco sours at Kantu, a comfortable, cozy place overlooking the Rio Calle Calle serving Chilean/Peruvian fare, short ribs, veal cutlets, and sirloin steaks at the Argentine style Parrilla de Thor, just down the street from Kantu, and great pasta and pizza at the Italian Restaurant Approach on the Isla Teja, where we celebrated with a bottle of Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon we had brought along for the occasion. Still can’t figure out the reason for the name of this place, “Approach”, but the pizza and pasta were very good and the service was pleasant.

At this point our journey looped out from Valdivia to the Pacific coast, to the twin towns of Corral and Niebla which sit across from each other at the mouth of the Rio Valdivia, guarding stoically the entrance to the river and hence the city of Valdivia several kilometers upriver. We drove From Valdivia to Niebla, crossing the Isla Teja where the beautiful campus of the Universidad Austral is located, and over the Rio Cruces where it joins the Rio Valdivia. A stop at the touristy Kuntsmann Brewery for a taste of one of their increasingly better beers (Torobayo a favorite) could include a huge sliced pork sandwich, lomito, swathed in way too much mayonnaise and creamy mashed avocado.

In Niebla, if you visit during the summer months of January or February, the very active Fiesta Costumbrista Valdiviana would be a good place to stop to listen to local musical groups, some good and some not so good but trying hard. this is a great place for lunch, as long as you have an abundant appetite. Typical robust Chilean fare, reasonably priced, is served all day every day: hallmark beef stew, cazuela de vacuno, usually bulked up with two or three huge yellowish potatoes, crispy but juicy lamb roasted over wood coals, classical beef empanadas, and Chilean salad, that ever present mixture of sliced tomato, blanched and feathered onion, topped with the ubiquitous cilantro.  Don’t miss it, but arrive hungry.

The Estella, plying the waters between Niebla and Corral

The Estella, plying the waters between Niebla and Corral

You can leave your car in a lot next to the docks in Niebla and take one of the small boats that ferry folks back and forth to Corral, where the Spanish colonial fort still stands. We took the creaky but waterproof “Estella”, a nautical gem, for our 30 minute crossing to visit the fort at Corral. The last serious “attack” that passed by this fort was the 1960 tsunami that reached all the way up river to Valdivia, leaving ships, homes, and forests destroyed, some under water to this day.

Spanish colonial fort in Corral, at the mouth of the Valdiva River

Spanish colonial fort in Corral, at the mouth of the Valdiva River

The fort is worth a visit. It sits in a strategic spot with a spectacular commanding view of the mouth of the river and nestled on the outskirts of picturesque Corral, a village of wooden houses, friendly people, and at times towering piles of wood chips from fast-growing eucalytus plantations that have replaced some of the native forests, cut in the period 1920 to 1960 to feed blast furnaces producing steel. After a bit of investigation and to our pleasant surprise, we discovered that there is a small restaurant, Donde La Abuela, where delicious fish is prepared and served happily by, who else, but la abuela  herself.

La Abuela and her daughter in their restaurant in Corral

La Abuela and her daughter in their restaurant in Corral

She and her lovely daughter treated us to crispy fried seafood empanadas filled with a mixture of navajelas and huepos, types of local shellfish, after which we savored sautéed robalo, a type of snook, and crispy fried pejerreys, a type of mackerel sometimes called silverside, the freshest seafood you can imagine. Of course the setting helps the flavor; this small rustic family run restaurant, perched up a steep side street in the town overlooking the small port where fishermen and ferryboats arrive and depart with much fanfare provides an unparalleled culinary experience, increasingly difficult to find, unfortunately, on coastal Chile.

Fried pejerrejes at La Abuela restaurant in Corral

Fried pejerrejes at La Abuela restaurant in Corral; Santa Rita “120” from la abuela’s “top shelf”

Donde La Abuela

Restaurant La Abuela, Corral

Presently, Corral is a town most people just visit to see the fort, returning quickly to Niebla and Valdivia. However, a new road is opening up the coastal area south of Corral, a relatively undeveloped area between the Rio Valdivia and the Rio Bueno just west of the cities of La Union and Osorno, that includes extensive and biologically unique native forest reserves harboring the iconic redwood-like alerce forests, now protected by law from the ax and the chainsaw.  Recent reports claim that a 3,500 year old alerce has been located in this area, in the Alerce Costero National Park. There is also disconcerting evidence that some isolated harvesting of the protected alerce is happening in this Reserve. We can only urge the authorities to clamp down on this illegal logging. It will be a tragedy if this new road, by opening the area to increased vehicular traffic, leads to uncontrolled exploitation of this valuable and unique natural resource, contributing to more and larger piles of wood chips in the port of Corral on the way to industrial production centers in Chile and beyond.

We will take our car across to Corral the next time we visit, to explore the new road and the unique forests that hug the coast at this point. But on this day we ferried back the same day to Niebla, like most visitors. But instead of returning to Valdivia the same way we had come, we drove north along the coast towards a protected coastal area named Curiñanco, on a spectacular twisting gravel road that eventually led us back to Valdivia.

The next morning we were greeted by one of those absolutely beautiful crisp sunny days so rare in the rainy south of Chile but revered when they do occur. To be clear, it does still rain a lot in Valdivia, but this was one of the days when it did not. We departed Valdivia early and set out directly east towards the village of Los Lagos located on the Pan-American highway. We exited the city through the modest Collico neighborhood on the south side of the Rio Calle Calle. The entire journey from Valdivia to Los Lagos borders this river on a fabulous newly paved road covering only fifty kilometers. This excellent road cuts through verdant, fertile lands on which crops, animals, and trees comingle in an agro-mosaic environment, highly productive while visually pleasing, surely the source of the fresh produce sold in the fluvial market in Valdivia and neighboring markets as well. The Rio Calle Calle begins in the east as the Rio San Pedro, carrying the waters that flow out from Lago Riñihue and only becomes the Rio Calle Calle as it crosses the Pan-American highway near the town of Los Lagos.

From Los Lagos it is just sixty kilometers more to Panguipulli, the town nestled on the west end of Lago Panguipulli, the gateway into the Valdivian mixed species forests that for decades provided abundant native hardwoods for construction timbers, railroad sleepers, veneer for decorative panels and plywood, beautiful furniture, but also for firewood. To this day wood for fuel represents by far the largest amount of wood taken from Chile’s native forests. The road to Panguipulli skirts Lago Riñihue, the southernmost of the “seven lakes” that, framed by Volcán Choshuenco on the south and Volcán Villarica on the north, make up one of the most spectacular natural areas in Chile.

Lago Panguipulli

Lago Panguipulli

Panguipulli until recently was a very sleepy town, supporting the forest products industry operating in the Andean foothills further east, and vacationers hearty and adventurous enough to encamp around the lake to fish, boat, and mostly just relax. In the last twenty years or so, though, Panguipulli has grown more as a place for vacationers who own or rent homes along both sides of the long, narrow lake, to shop, eat, and have coffee at the internet cafes. Internet connections are still scarce in some of the more distant areas in the Andean foothills, so these internet cafes are important popular gathering places; hubs of communication. While tourism and vacation homes have grown by leaps and bounds around Panguipulli, the business of forestry has been in steep decline.

The destination for this leg of our journey was Puerto Fuy, a town of a few houses on the  western tip of Lago Pirihueico, well east of Panguipulli and almost on the frontier with Argentina. The first class road along the northern edge of Lago Panguipulli provides another breathtaking drive as Volcán Choshuenco comes closer and closer into view at the far end of the lake. Puerto Fuy sits right next to this snow-capped volcano, but before we reached Puerto Fuy we drove through several small towns where sawmills and lumber yards were located, and where the hardy folks lived who worked before in the private forestry estates, and then in the state-owned forestry complex named “Complejo Panguipulli”. The expansive forested area, covering as much as 270,000 hectares, has remained mostly in public ownership for national security reasons due to its proximity to the Argentine border. The forests have been extensively high graded, with most of the valuable trees already harvested. Very little significant native forest management is going on to guide the cutover forests back to a healthy state, and hence most of the population, if they don’t work in tourism, are leaving. Prime examples of this are Choshuenco and Neltume, towns that bustled in the early days of the Complejo Panguipulli. During the Allende Unidad Popular government in the early 1970s, the Complejo was not only a very active center of native forest exploitation, wood production and experimentation with native forest management, but also a political hotspot where a cadre of revolutionaries gathered under the direction of the leftist firebrand named Comandante Pepe, preparing for the revolution.

Lake Panguipulli, on the road to Puerto Fuy

Lake Panguipulli, on the road to Puerto Fuy

Just beyond Neltume, the road narrows and turns to gravel. The Huilo Huilo Lodge, a unique agglomeration of four hotels of very different aspect and comfort, and price lurks along the road, shrouded by the native forest that, although harvested repeatedly over the years is still impressive. Even if you are not staying at one of these hotels, and we were not, it is worth a visit. Constructed with mostly local building materials, the impression you get either in the restaurant or walking through the hallways or public areas of which there are many, is that you are very much “at one with nature”. The Huilo Huilo Lodge offers all sorts of activities from fishing expeditions and hiking to ice climbing on the volcano, kayaking and white water rafting on the nearby lakes and rivers. Or, you can simply be there, read, write, and just relax surrounded by the unique and comforting Chilean native forest.

Pablo Neruda could have been in this part of Chile, maybe crossing into Argentina to seek political refuge, when he wrote: “If you have not been in a Chilean forest, you do not know this planet.”

Our destination was just a couple of kilometers further down the road, Puerto Fuy and the Marina Fuy Hotel that sits on the northern edge of Lago Pirihueico. Shortly after we arrived at Puerto Fuy, the ferry that plies Lago Pirihueico from end to end arrived from Puerto Pirihueco. We watched as a truck disembarqued, followed by several hikers with backpacks, a cyclist, two cows, and a couple of cars. This is the only transportation from Puerto Fuy to the other end of the lake, Puerto Pirihueico, and on to Argentina and San Martin de los Andes. The trip across the lake takes about two hours, so even if you are not going on to Argentina, the trip from Puerto Fuy and back exposes you to a most spectacular Andean lake scene, notably with the magnificent snowcapped Choshuenco volcano in the background.

Marina Fuy at Puerto Fuy on lake Pirihueco

Marina Fuy at Puerto Fuy on lake Pirihueco

Good food, fantastic views of the lake and surrounding volcanic peaks, forest, and wildlife make  a stay at Marina Fuy dreamlike. Even the creaky, uneven wooden floors seem appropriate in this environment. We spent a wonderful day and evening here, we enjoyed a fabulous risotto with a local mushroom for lunch, and tender, medium rare “bife de chorizo” for dinner. We dug out the last bottle of wine we had in the car, a 2008 Concha y Toro Don Melchor, which is usually much too pricey for our table but in this case it seemed most appropriate; it pairs very nicely with Chilean sirloin.

We knew we had to return to Santiago the next day, but mellowed by the moment, we celebrated; Luisa and Lionel, Ximena and I, blessed by the silent comfort of the Valdivian forest, a full moon about to hide behind the volcano but reflecting for awhile on the rippling surface of Lago Pirihueco……and our good and loyal companion, Don Melchor.

Luisa and Lionel, our traveling companions

Posted on November 4, 2015, in Leesburg, Virginia.

 

 

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David Joslyn
David Joslyn, after a 45-year career in international development with USAID, Peace Corps, The Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, and private sector consulting firms, divides his time between his homes in Virginia and Chile. Since 2010, David has been writing about Chile and Chileans, often based upon his experience with the Peace Corps in Chile and his many travels throughout the country with family and friends.
David Joslyn

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21 thoughts on “From Rio Calle Calle to Lago Pirihueico”

  1. Mack Storrs says:

    Dave,
    This is a fantastic piece of writing — it makes me want to leave right now to see the sights you mention. Kris & I loved Valdivia when we visited 50 years ago, and especially liked the boat ride to see the old forts at Niebla and Corral. So your writing and the great photos are very nostalgic for us and bring back terrific memories. Thanks so much for writing this piece. Kris & Mack

    1. David Joslyn
      David Joslyn says:

      You can visit all these sites, and many more, when you travel to Chile in 2017 for the reunion of your Peace Corps group; 50 years from your arrival in Chile in 1967.

  2. Tu Jarvis says:

    Dave,
    Thanks so much for sending the piece on Valdivia and the surrounding region. It’s just great. I briefly visited Valdivia in 1968 and again in 1979 and have never been back, but your piece has really inspired me to go soon! I thought Valdivia was special when I saw it before, but even more so now. Thanks again; waiting for the next travel installment! Tu

    1. David Joslyn
      David Joslyn says:

      Thanks, Tu. Valdivia with its Universidad Austral campus has the friendly, welcoming feel like so many small college towns in the US. A collaborative research program between Austral and UC Davis would be good for both; maybe it could focus on mixed farming systems using some of Chile’s unique hardwood species native to the Valdivian mixed forests around Valdivia.

  3. Marcy Rol says:

    Sounds like a great trip! Next time let me know so I can tag along.

    1. David Joslyn
      David Joslyn says:

      Great. We go to Chile every year January to April. Come on down.

  4. Roger Emanuels says:

    Great report. You visited and expertly described some of my favorite places. But while in Corral and Chaihuín in 2012, I visited the Reserva Costera Valdiviana, where the dreaded Eucalyptus plantations of the 1990s are being cut and chipped. I understood those Eucalyptus to be the source of the chips in Corral, not the native species. Those had already been cleared during the military government.

    1. David Joslyn
      David Joslyn says:

      Not wanting to leave the issue of the chips in Corral unresolved, I checked with a Chilean forester with long connections to Valdivia and the Universidad Austral, who, agreeing with you, confirmed that the present-day chips in Corral are Eucalytus. However, he states that these chips are not coming from the Reserva Costera Valdiviana, but rather further inland, and that the plantations are not on lands “…already cleared during the military government.”, but rather lands cleared during the period 1920 to 1960 for fuel for the ovens operating in the region to produce steel. Hence, I have amended this part of the posting. Thanks for reading, and thanks for the comments.

  5. Doug McEwen says:

    Dave,

    You have a real talent for using words in a travel log that make the reader want to repeat your trip. Kiva and I will save this piece and perhaps visit some of these areas during our 50th Peace Corps reunion in 2017.

    1. David Joslyn
      David Joslyn says:

      An excellent idea. And there are many more wonderful places in southern Chile, with beautiful lakes, magnificent snow capped volcanos, and best of all fantastic seafood. You will need weeks to see the best parts, so plan accordingly.

  6. Tom Catterson says:

    David, Once again, thanks to you, I was transported back in time and space to our Peace Corps days. Valdivia is a distant memory, amply refreshed by your words. My memories of that region of Chile center on fog and wood smoke and the proud agrarian tradition. As Doug McEwen said, sounds like something we ought to do again! Of course, I am really more inclined to head up into the Andes, to Panguipulli and beyond, for some of the sightseeing and fishing. I will always treasure my memories of a float trip down the river from Lago Maihue to Panguipulli, catching one trout after another from a small boat with a native remero backing me down the river. We had freshly butchered cordero on an island in the river, roasted over the brazas. As the only gringo present, I was of course honored with los huevos de cordero…buttery I vaguely remember. The guy who owned the hostaria at the end of the river used to host Texans who would fly in on their private jets! He graciously gave me a room in the attic, for free, and let me eat on the hostaria table for a very modest fee. I visited Panguipulli in the days of Allende, with Dario Rodriquez, the Colombian forester who went to ESF with us, to assist him with the inventory of the native forest of the complejo. The Miristas were there in force and not all that thrilled to see a former PCV, although Dario vouched for my so-called revolutionary credentials…he and I had led the first student demonstration against the Vietnam war at the College of Forestry, way back when, so I was tolerated. Susan and I stayed at that Lodge again during our 40th reunion and I had another fishing expedition on the river, without catching even one trout, lamentablemente, for the river not for me! Let’s do it all again in 2017. Mil gracias for awakening those memories. Tomas

    1. David Joslyn
      David Joslyn says:

      We shall. We’ll try to get some of those buttery “crilladillas” for you. So hone your jacobin inclinations and we’ll arrange a visit to the old haunts around the Complejo Panguipulli. Chileans are again getting a bit antsy these days, so there may be a next generation Comandante Pepe hanging out near Neltume, who would welcome a visit from an old Gringo who knows the difference between roble pellin and hualle. It should be fun.

  7. David Mather says:

    I don’t think I have to tell you how much I enjoyed your blog! Plus, there was a plethora of new info, especially for dining like El Guata Amarilla (why isn’t it Amarillo if Guata is masculine?) and Restaurant La Abuela, both the kind of places we love. I was familiar with the protected land down the coast from Corral with which I believe the Nature Conservancy played a large role. Knowing that there is now a road from Corral to this area, we, too, would like to make a road trip there.
    Many of your pictures mirror mine, and I don’t think I have to tell you that the Curinanco road was where Tomas,(of When the Whistling Stops fame) was paralyzed when Jorge cut the brake lines. It would only be fitting to try the beer Cuello Negro which I also had never heard of. The road along the Calle Calle to Los Lagos sounds fantastic. Roads like that are such a treat, and I’d rather travel down one than go to some fancy place like Vina any day. However, I must say that the first time Lindy visited Chile with me, and after something like 40-plus-hours traveling (cheap plane ticket to Asuncion, another flight to Santiago, train to Temuco, and finally bus to Valdivia), Lindy woke up as the Calle Calle came into sight along with the beautiful rural scenery rising up from its banks. Her first comment was: why did we travel all this way when this looks exactly like home? She wasn’t wrong–very similar to the “Upper Ct. River Valley” where we live.
    It’s not all bad when you get travelers like the ones you describe. They will spread the word that Valdivia isn’t worth traveling to which, in turn, allows people like us to enjoy it all the more. With your gastronomical pursuits of fine food and beverage, I am thinking your health has improved which is great news. Finally, sounds like you may be discovering some very appropriate spots for the reunion.
    Regards,
    David

    1. Chuck Smith says:

      I think the El goes with restaurante (understood) and the name is more or less in quotes. It’s a feminine name. That’s how I read it.

      1. David Joslyn
        David Joslyn says:

        Chuck is right. El Restaurante Guata Amarilla.
        Dave, as we were driving along the coastal road between Niebla and Valdivia, I wondered where, exactly, that accident (attempted homicide, rather) might have taken place; I checked my brakes regularly along that stretch of the road.

  8. Chuck Smith says:

    Reading about Valdivia took me back to a trip I made several months after arriving in Chile. Maybe you went along. I recall seeing the fort with canons and a WWII black submarine that we were allowed to board but had to give them our cameras so we would not steal any of the secrets we might observe in the sub. I do remember the food, as I usually do. Thanks for sharing your trip. Chuck

    1. David Joslyn
      David Joslyn says:

      I recall that trip. Probably it was in January or February of 1968. We must have taken that wonderful old train that ran all the way from Santiago to Puerto Montt. We would have gotten off that train in Antilhue I believe, and taken a smaller one to Valdivia. Those were the good old days when Chile had a decent north-south passenger train. They seem to be toying with the idea of resurrecting that train, hopefully in our lifetime. I would love to take that train ride, boarding in Santiago in the late afternoon, dinner in the restaurant car initited with a pisco sour, probably an appetizer of half an avocado filled with small tasty langostino tails, main course of cazuela de ave or vacuno, or maybe plateada with parsley potatoes, canned peaches with cream for dessert, half a bottle of Santa Rita 120 cabernet sauvignon/merlot blend, topped off with a small cup of Nescafe. Wouldn’t that be great? But we shall see.

  9. Paula says:

    Now I feel like taking a trip to Valdivia!!!

  10. Mercedes Wiff says:

    David, eres increíble. Cada escrito es precioso y tiene mucho cariño. Bellas fotos. Ojalá durante el próximo viaje nos podamos juntar. Cariños desde Curacaví.

    1. David Joslyn
      David Joslyn says:

      Encantados pasaremos un rato agradable en su paraíso en Curacaví. Con o sin la famosa chicha. Un abrazo.

  11. Judy Stang says:

    Hello Dave:
    As a Peace Corps I volunteer, I enjoy your blogs and especially this one on Valdivia. My husband (Elden – now deceased) and I married in the Peace Corps in 1963. We were stationed in Chillan and Osorno. The roads to Valdivia were under water from the 1960 earthquake. In 1993, Elden was hired to introduce and produce cranberries in Chile, first time growing in the southern hemisphere. We lived in Valdivia and the main cranberry farm was established near Lonco. We spent every free moment traveling the areas you refer to in this blog for three years . I so enjoyed reading of familiar places, changes – mostly positive, and your captivating writing. Valdivia will always be my second home. Thanks for the journey!

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