Our first port of call in Chile was to the Island of Chiloe. Famed for how different it is compared to mainland we were in for a bit of a shock as soon as we stepped off of the bus.
Journey to Chiloe
We traveled to Chiloe from the Argentinian town of Bariloche, taking the bus to Puerto Monte (6 and a half hours) and then swapping onto a direct bus to Chiloe (3 and a half hours).
Our problems started as soon as we tried to cross over the Argentinian-Chilean border…
We knew from our journey to Ushuaia a few weeks back that the Chilean border agents were extremely thorough when searching vehicles and luggage for foreign fruit entering the country.
With this in mind we ensured that we couldn’t be accused of smuggling any fruit across the borders… by eating it all before we reached the check point…
Although all of our fruit was thoroughly in our stomachs before everyone’s bags were taken from the coach and searched, my large rucksack as well as my small rucksack were flagged by the sniffer dogs. Cue half an hour of me emptying my rucksacks out for the border police, explaining why I had resistance bands, a hockey ball and various other fitness equipment (and NO FRUIT) we were able to re-board our bus and continue into Chile.
Late night arrival
We arrived at Puerto Monte at 8.30pm realising that we had no Chilean currency so after drawing out some cash from the cash point in the bus station we were able to buy a ticket for the bus to Chiloe leaving at 8.45pm. Although this meant arriving in Chiloe around midnight we reasoned that we could download a data package and book a room for the night and get a taxi to the hotel. In theory this was a pretty sensible idea but we didn’t factor in the sleepy town of Chiloe and the lack of taxis after sunset….
Arriving at midnight to the deserted bus station we managed to get directions to a near by ‘taxi rank'(a waiting bay of one taxi driver) by a local girl walking past. Luckily there was a taxi waiting and after giving him the directions to our hostel we were on our way in a few minutes.
Staying in the outskirts of town
The town of Chiloe is not the most appealing place after dark, especially the outskirts. Unfortunately that’s where we had booked to stay for the night…
When the taxi driver pulled up to a junk yard with the address that we gave him, Leah and I weren’t the only ones with worry on our faces. We’d booked the accommodation on booking.com a few hours ago and were so tired from the journey that we couldn’t believe what was in front of us.
Using some broken Spanish we managed to communicate the situation to the taxi driver and he waited for us to check out the accommodation before he drove away. Luckily everything worked out fine, we called the hostel owner (and woke him up) and we were able to get into our room, avoiding the guard dogs that were roaming around the junk yard.
Although it was a bit of a sketchy situation it worked out fine and did remind us to try our best not to arrive in a new place (especially a new country) after dark!
Chiloe during the day time is completely different to after dark.
The whole town is buzzing with life and the little houses on the outskirts of the town have a shabby appeal. After half an hour of walking from our accommodation we had passed the traditional palafitos (beautifully shabby stilt houses over the sea’s edge), two markets and a few of the 150 churches and chapels that are dotted across the island.
The churches are beautiful and we were fortunate enough to spot a heard of sea lions playing near by the fish market but other than that there isn’t much to ‘do’ in Chiloe.
We had planned on visiting a national park on the north side of the island but it continuously rained so we cut our cultural visit short and hit the shops and restaurants instead.
Food in Chiloe
We’d been told that Chile would be a lot cheaper than Argentina and Brazil but we didn’t realise by how much until we arrived. A standard set-menu at lunch time came to 3,000 pesos (£3) and consisted of soup to start, a choice of three mains, desert and a drink! Most restaurants could cater to vegetarian options but vegan was a little harder to translate. The saving grace here though was the avocados… they’re in abundance in Chiloe and the avocado roll I had for my first lunch in Chile was almost the size of my head, delicious and 2,500 pesos.
There are a few supermarkets in the centre of town and lots of food markets and stalls along the side streets.
Leah tried some seafood from the fish market and said it was really good, and we bought humus (yes humus!) from a fruit and veg stall to have with roasted veg and wedges that we cooked for dinner…. And to make the day even better we found peanut butter in the supermarket earlier!
Crunchy as well!!!
We hadn’t had peanut butter in too long by this point in our year long trip so cracked it open and had the best peanut butter porridge for desert (literally porridge oats cooked with water and a huge spoon – or two- of peanut butter mixed in).