Chiloe, Castro and the End of the World

The gallery has photos from both Valdivia and Castro. Here I´ll write about Castro, in a post before this I wrote about Valdivia.

The adventures of Ben and Lenore continue in Chile with the city of Castro. From Valdivia we took the eight plus hour bus ride down south, hopped on a ferry (bus and all) onto the island of Chiloe.

If you look at a map of Chile, you will follow this thin, long country from North to South where you will run into the island of Chiloe. From here southward, Chile is a broken puzzle of Islands wedged up against the Andes which fall straight into the Pacific Ocean. Here in Chiloe, the Chileans start to refer to the region as ´the end of the world.´

Darwin also visited the ends of the world, the town of Castro to be exact, on his ¨Voyage of the Beagle.¨ Ben brought the published journals, so we got a glimpse into the City life from Darwin’s´ eyes.

Upon Darwin´s arrival, Castro was the much diminished capitol of the island; the Spanish had left and the people were poor. The main square was overrun with grass and sheep were grazing upon it. My favorite line: ¨No individual possessed either a watch or a clock, and an old man who was supposed to have a good idea of time, was employed to strike the church bell by guess.¨

Castro is still poor, but growing. They have watches now, and the main square a top the hill has been re-claimed by the city. The church is a newer version (circa 1900) and I´ll bet Darwin didn´t get to stroll through the great wool filled artesian market that sits near the water now.

The church in Castro is worth writing books about. The façade of the Church is nothing special, in fact it nears grotesque. They covered the outside with thin tin and it´s paint was peeling back in large chunks. The inside, however, was totally made of wood. From the floor to the celling, everything is meticulously hand crafted wood. Apparently, the island of Chiloe is known for its wooden churches – the people were too poor to afford stone so they built their churches out of the forest around them.

Chiloe is also known for its seafood, and boy did we eat seafood! We had clams, mussels, fried fish, clam soup, sushi and ceviche. It was excellent and quite the refreshing change from the Argentine Beef overload. At the end of our two night stay I had to turn down the seafood; too much was making my stomach ache! Ben, the seasoned seafood eater from Seattle ate it all up gladly.

Overall, Castro and the island of Chiloe are must-visits for those travelling Southern Chile or Argentina. Once you get to the islands, you are off the main-stream tourist path and on your way to cheap seafood, beautiful maritime scenery and warm, fuzzy wool*!

*Which I regret not purchasing some socks from the nice old wool lady knitting them.


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