June 20, Marina Quinched (Castro)

Day 1
We woke up early today to the sound of Mario’s alarm set for 7.45am. He wanted to be up early and go into town to look for a place to see the Brazil game or at least find out when it was. Soon after I could hear Ian walking about the boat. I stayed in bed trying to get some more sleep but it was useless. Finally at about 9.30am I got out. Mario had just come back from the village and Bob was there drinking coffee with Ian. I asked Mario whether he had found anything but he said the village was dead. There was no bar or a TV, not even people walking on the streets. He had met a man who didn’t even know what Brazil was and had asked funny questions about it (i.e. Do you have markets there?, Is there any constructions?, etc.) . Mario was not happy and eager to leave hoping that there will be a TV at our next anchorage that was only a couple of hours away.Before I forget let me tell you about our morning guests.

Mario had invited that same guy he had met in the morning to come see the boat warning him we would be leaving soon. The guy turned out to be a yacht fanatic and didn’t lose any time in rowing to us. We were all gathered in the cockpit when Mario spotted him in the distance. As he pulled up to us we also saw a young woman with him and speculated as to their relationship. It turned out that she was his sister. A lovely young woman, learning English, having come to visit her brother from a nearby town. She told us that her brother had had an epilepsy attack at the age of two which had left him brain damaged. Shame…Anyhow, Ignacio (the brother) being the fanatic he is didn’t waste any time familiarizing himself with the inside of the boat as well as the outside while we were chatting to his sister in the cabin. They stayed for a short while; we exchanged addresses (Ian gave them their website, since Ignacio wanted to get some photos from it and they gave us their postal address since there was no Inet in the village) and took our goodbyes. But not before we took some photos together and of them on the boat. They got back into their dinghy and slowing rowed back to shore while taking photos of the yacht from a distance.An interesting thing to mention is the lack of electricity in the village save for three hours in the evening (7.30-10.30pm). There is nothing during the day and yet people live there happily. Isn’t it funny…?We left motoring but it only lasted while we were getting away from the windless bay. We then pulled up the sails and happily sailed for the rest of the day. The scenery was beautiful and we spent some time sitting outside enjoying the view. There are many small islands around Chiloe (all inhabited) and the scenery is phenomenal. All one can see is endless grassy hills, dotted with colorful houses, the land carefully divided into workable squares. Here and there one spots a cow or a sheep casually munching on grass. The coasts filled with small boats used for either fishing or basic transportation. There was something about it, something endearing, something very attractive. I supposed it was the fantasy of being able to live there in a small, colorful house perched on a hill overlooking the water and the surrounding hills; having a small garden, some animals…it would be nice. It got me dreaming and I felt quite emotional. I must remember to fulfill that dream one day…
We continued sailing although somehow slow before our speed picked up nicely towards the end. The boys played backgammon (surprise, surprise!) while I wrote and listened to some music. I was in a funny mood…We arrived at the marina in the early afternoon and although we hadn’t been able to contact them on the radio a man awaited us on the dock. As we approached we greeted each other and he helped us tie the ropes, a simple and easy procedure. We then had a quick chat concerning mainly the football game and where Mario could see it before he left to go back to lunch with his family on Father’s Day.
He had told us that we could get a Wi-Fi connection from the boat and Mario didn’t waste any time trying to connect. Unfortunately, we were too far from the source and we didn’t even detect the network. Mario was not happy. He ran outside, but it was all in vain. I saw him sitting under the shelter about 50m away from the boat but still nothing. He came back to the boat, got dressed and went out hoping to get transport to a nearby town where they were sure to be showing the game.

Ian and I had lunch (pea soup with ham and leftover pasta mixed together) and then decided to go out for a walk. We were disappointed for not having spent more time on the little island of this morning (we had to find a place for Mario to watch the game) and were eager to make up for it. The surroundings looked beautiful and peaceful.

We went out and came across the facility buildings of the marina when we decided to have a quick look at them. Some building they were! So lovely. They were all shaped as an octagonal and made of wood with big windows. There was one for the bathrooms/washing machine together with a small gift shop now closed but surely booming in the summer. There was another one that served as a dining area, boasting a big open grill in the middle, surrounded by big wooden benches and a fully equipped kitchen corner. And the third, the biggest and my favourite was the living area. It was a house in fact boasting a few bedrooms, a spacious living area (beautifully furnished) and a staircase leading to a second floor originally designed as a playing area but now serving as a bedroom. All that in one big, open space with high ceilings. All three bungalows were perched on top of a grassy hill overlooking the bay. It was all very well maintained, and rather luxurious looking. There were also rustic tables and benches in the garden for the summer as well as a kid’s area. Absolutely lovely! Later when we spoke to the owner he told us it was his business and he alone ran it. Amazing.

We left that area and headed further up the road when we stumbled upon Mario standing in of the office watching the football game. He had managed to connect to the Inet but since the office was closed he had to stand on the porch, barely covered from the light rain. Determination. That is when the owner (William Bannister) came and unlocked it for us. We had a chat with him, Mario sat in a corner and watched the game, some French people came talking to him and then Ian spoke French to them, before we continued on our walk. While I was waiting for Ian I saw an owl fly over his head. A light brown owl, flying during the day – interesting.

We followed the road, winding in between beautiful houses, chatting. We came across some eucalyptus trees and Ian (being the trees specialist he is) explained what a pest they were. They poisoned the ground they grew on and nothing could be planted underneath them. On top of that they multiplied ferociously. On the bright side their wood was great for burning since it contained a lot of oil. Their oil is also useful as a medicine, etc.

We walked, and walked admiring the stunning houses perched on the hills. Again great, open, grassy spaces, cows and sheep of various breeds casually munching on grass, the land divided into patches belonging to its various owners. The views stretching as far as the eye could see. We were surrounded by chicken and barking dogs, pretending to be bad when we all knew they were really friendly. Some houses were small and colorful, others were big, the color of natural wood, taking up the best lots in the village. Smoke was idly streaming from the chimneys… From what I have seen so far I am starting to think that Chiloe Island (or at least some parts of it) is meant as a country retreat for rich Chileans. This community of houses is where wealthy people built they holiday homes (many houses are currently uninhabited). Rich or poor, a holiday maker or a local, all they houses were built in a traditional Chilote fashion – their outside walls covered in beautifully carved wooden tiles. We particularly like a couple of the locals’ houses that although not very glamorous were occupying what I thought was the best place in the village with views of the bay, the hills, the village as well as the towns in the distance. Absolutely stunning. Idyll.

The road went on and on but we decided to turn back since it was getting dark. We walked back and Ian picked up a eucalyptus branch for the boat. It would smell nice apparently. It is funny how different the baby trees look from the adult ones to the point of being utterly unrecognizable as the dame species. On the way back we discussed the possibility of repairing the boat here instead of going to Valdivia. It was possible to do here and Ian preferred the location of the small village compared to the big city. He is not looking forward to going there. It also seems that it would be cheaper to stay here. He has to discuss money matters with the owner but should he decided to stay here that would be the end of our trip. Nothing to be upset about since it would be all over in not more than a week anyway. Let’s see what happens. All we know now is that there is very bad weather coming our way and that we would be staying here for a few days.

Back at the office we found Señor Bannister getting ready to leave and Mario still sitting in his corner doing some Inet stuff. We asked about the transport to Castro (the island’s capital) that was only 20min away and William said we had three options – the 8am bus coming back at 1pm, a taxi, and him. He went there almost every day and kindly offered to take us there and back. Mario has decided to take the bus there since he wants to be in some place Chilean for the Chile football game tomorrow morning, Ian has expressed his lack of desire to go anywhere and I am still undecided. Maybe I will go there in the morning, hang out for a few hours and come back at 1pm or with William depending on the activities. I need to look up the local attractions before I make up my mind.

We are now back on the boat, the boys a playing backgammon, and I am writing this. Mario made some bread earlier today and it is in the oven and I need to peel and chop some potatoes for our barbecue tonight. We have decided to light the fire in the dining area and grill some meat with fried potatoes, a fresh salad and a bottle of red wine. It is a party. I better get going…

Day 2
Mario’s alarm went off at 7.10am. He was getting ready to go to Castro (a nearby town, and the islands capital) to watch the football games. Chile was playing Switzerland and although our host William had installed a TV in the common room, Mario wanted to be among Chileans and immerse himself into the emotion and the spirit of it all. His bus was leaving at 8am (as previously advised by William) and he had plenty of time to get ready. I tried to sleep more but it was impossible and I just stayed in bed for a bit longer before I got up.

I made breakfast for Ian and I and when we were both finished I gathered all our laundry and headed to the washing room. There were plenty of dirty clothes for two loads. I filled up the machine and started fiddling with the settings. It took me a while to figure it out but I succeeded nevertheless (after a while I just started pressing all the buttons hoping the solution would reveal itself to me and it did!) . It wouldn’t work with the hot water setting but worked fine with the warm water setting. Go figure! The first load took a while to finish (a slow machine) but it was all worth it. It washed them clothes beautifully. There were no problems. Now the second load was a bit of an adventure. I packed the clothes in, sprinkled the washing powder and adjusted the settings just like I had done the first time (at least I thought I had done so) and yet when I went back a couple of hours later the washing machine as switched off and the clothes were soaking in dirty water. Clearly not the desired result. I thought someone had switched it off half way through the cycle. I switched it back on and adjusted the settings again. It needed to rinse and drain them. Imagine my surprise when I went back there another two hours later only to find the same thing happening – the machine was off, and the clothes were still soaked in dirty water. Yes, it was slightly cleaner but that is not the point. I wondered what could have gone wrong and fiddled with the setting again when it dawned on me – I hadn’t been adjusting the program settings correctly being confused by some lights (I didn’t understand whether it needed to be on or off to work). At last I figured it out and was pretty sure next time I came back the clothes would be beautifully washed and drained to perfection. Not to mention the divine aroma of washing powder. Yummy! Do not laugh at all the fun I am having with a washing machine. It is a big thing after not having one for so long. Learn to appreciate the little things, the ones we usually take for granted.

Once the machine was working on the first load I went to the living area (a beautifully build and furnished bungalow) where William had installed the TV. I was hoping to get an Internet signal there and do some work while also keeping an eye on the games in the background. Unfortunately, there was no signal so I just settled in a comfy armchair, all wrapped up in woolen blankets, reading my book. I finished ‘War and Peace’. Finally! The last part of the epilogue was tedious. He expanded his views on the subject of history and more precisely on the forces behind actions or ‘What drives nations to do what they do?’. He spoke about freewill, necessity, the importance of timing, and the will of God. It was all so abstract that I hardly understood anything. From what I gathered he was a firm believer in the will of God and how everything is predestined while we are mere pawns in the execution of the act. An interesting theory with which I mostly agree. It is a comforting thought (in my opinion). If everything is already laid out for us we have nothing to worry about, just live and enjoy. It takes of the burden of constant decision making. It would have been nice to fully understand the reasoning behind it though. But if I have to be honest I just read through the last few pages for the sake of finishing it without trying to dig into the contents too much. I was fed up with it. I still managed to read the introduction by the translator though and found out that Tolstoy was very happy when writing the book. He was very excited and keen on it. He would re-write something up to 7 times before he was happy with it. Admirable. It somehow makes it easier to take pleasure in a book when you know it was the fruit of love and a person was happy to have written it. I guess some of that happiness rub off on you. Just a thought…

When I finished the book, I picked up another one about the gauchos of Patagonia. I am interested in finding out more about it since I have spent so much time in Patagonia and not only the super famous Argentine side of it but also the less mentioned Chilean part that is home to some of the most unique scenery and customs. It is special to me especially since we spent so much time sailing through it. Unfortunately, the first chapter of the book didn’t not particularly captivate my attention. It was way too descriptive and somewhat boring. I wasn’t capable of dealing with boring so soon after the last tedious pages of ‘War and Peace’. Instead I decided to go back to the boat and get some lunch (Ian had cooked a lovely vegetable soup) since I was pretty hungry. On the way there I picked up the first load of laundry and hung it on the washing line Ian had put up earlier that day. I could hear Mario playing the guitar and singing inside the cabin. It was nice since he does both very well. I didn’t want to interrupt his moment especially since Ian had told me that he didn’t seem too happy upon coming back from his football spree in Castro. I ran out of clothes to hang though.

I went into the cabin, we greeted each other and my presence didn’t seem to upset him. To my pleasure he kept on playing. I served myself a bowl of soup, asked Mario whether he wanted any and when he said he didn’t I sat at the table. The last game of the day had started some minutes ago and soon after I came in Mario left for the living area. I finished my meal and went back to the living area, picking up the gaucho book again. The match was soon over, it was getting dark and I was getting fed up of sitting and reading. Mario had already gone to the office and I shortly followed him for an Internet session. All three of us gathered around the table, each staring at their monitor. Here and there you could see smiles on their faces upon receiving good or funny news, or tense, focused expression when work was being done.

We knew that Ian had talked business with William and were wondering how his decision was progressing. Were we sailing further up north to the city of Valdivia or was he staying in Quinched? He was happy with the proposal, had expressed his dislike for big cities and his love of the country side and it somehow appeared to be a no-brainer. The offer was superb. He was still looking for potential problems with it.

That evening I felt like talking to Bhanu. As a matter of fact I felt a huge urge to do so and hoping to find him online. I sent him a quick message on Facebook and there he was! Five minutes later we were video chatting via Skype. I was so happy, so moved, so thrilled. I needed that conversation and felt a great relief, a sense of direction when we were done. While we were all busy it started raining and I remembered the clean clothes I had hung outside to dry (it was perfectly dry and still when I had done so) and wondered what to do with them. I was mid-conversation with Bhanu and I desperately looked at the guys hoping one of them would offer. They both couldn’t be bothered and we decided to just leave the clothes. Oh well! It wasn’t such a strong rain anyway.

Ian left the office first and Mario followed him after a while. I was left alone, talking to Bhanu. When I was done I went back to the boat. The connection had disappeared and it was time for dinner anyway.

Back on the boat the guys were playing backgammon again and I didn’t really feel like cooking. I asked them if they would be ok with eating the veggie soup from lunch along with some bread, cheese and olives. They didn’t mind so I quickly set the table for dinner.

We kept on playing backgammon afterward. That night the decision as to the end of our trip was made. Ian was staying.

 

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