chile Tag

chiloe mythology, dwarf, chile, religion, folklore, castro, ancud (2)

The deformed troll in the forest

Mythology of Chiloe, Chile Many societies seem to have a mythological ogre-like creature in their cultural histories. The Germans have the Erlking, the Scandinavians have the Troll, and the English have Simon Cowell. But none seems as scary as the deformed dwarf from the mythology of Chiloe. Chiloe is an archipelago towards the south of Chile. Separated by water from the populous north and desolate Patagonia in the south, it has been isolated from the rest of the country and the rest of the world. Through its isolation it has developed a unique culture, within which are the tales of the creatures that inhabit the land. My introduction to the mythology was at the bus station in the town of Ancun, where paintings of the creatures adorn the wall. You can’t help but notice Trauco, the twisted and ugly dwarf with a cone for a cap. His story is quite graphic, and is...

Read More
14 March
chiloe church, castro, chile, unesco, world heritage (7)

The funeral crasher

The churches of Chiloe, Chile In death, there can be a peace. There will be grief, undoubtedly, but also a comfort. The life will not be judged in isolation but as part of a community formed around it. It's the lives that were touched which say more than anything. Dots, only when interconnected with lines, bring clarity and definition to the picture. In Chiloe, an archipelago which serves as a stepping stone from the populated areas of Chile to its rugged and isolated Patagonian south, a funeral is starting. In the island's small town of Castro, the local community has filled the church. Some people stand at the back and others perch on the stone blocks which support the buildings solid wooden columns. Your narrator sits awkwardly on the edge of the last row of pews. I had come in as a tourist to have a look at the unique architecture of Chiloe's...

Read More
12 March
pucon, chile, rafting, trekking, volcano, things to do (2)

The beach in the mountains

Things to do in Pucon, Chile Many hours drive from the ocean there’s a beach. Hundreds of metres above sea level, people laze on the shore and splash around in the water. There’s no sand – just grey volcanic rocks for a shore. But there are beach umbrellas, sunchairs and more skin than should be socially acceptable. This is Pucon and there are lots of things to do. About 800 kilometres south of the capital Santiago, this is the premier location for domestic tourism in Chile. It’s not popular just for the beach, which is on the side of an enormous lake with surprisingly warm water. It’s also a base for a whole range of adventure sports. Trekking, rafting, canyoning, and so on. This is what the Chileans come for during the summer. It’s a laidback town… small and spread out from the lake in a grid. The shops along the main street...

Read More
08 March
valparaiso, chile, pablo neruda, south america, unesco

The panoramic kaleidoscope

Valparaiso's buildings Rumour is that it was a building that led to the Chilean city of Valparaiso being protected by UNESCO. Not a grand, beautiful, historic building. Rather, it was a modern edifice that, in some people’s eyes, scarred the skyline of the port city. When a shipping company wanted to build a huge glass box of a building on top of its original sandstone offices, the local council said no, worried it would ruin the beauty of the city. When the shipping company threatened to move all its business further down the coast to another location, the council changed its mind, worried it would ruin the economy of the city. The glass box was built and when the outcry came, not unexpectedly, the United Nations was asked to step in. Local residents campaigned for the area to be protected and in 2003 UNESCO put a heritage listing over the entire historic...

Read More
02 March
santiago fish market, mercado central, chile, best fish
  |   No comment

Something a bit fishy

Santiago Fish Markets, Chile You smell it before you see it. But I suppose that’s often the case with fish markets. There’s something about the smell of thousands of dead sea creatures that should be off-putting but actually just makes you crave a good meal. The fish market in Santiago had been described to me as a must-visit place. Normally a recommendation like that can go one of two ways – it’s either a highlight or a complete tourist trap. Strangely enough, this fell right in the middle. Mercado Central The locals call it Mercado Central and early in the mornings it is their domain. Chile is famous for its fish and this is where the top restaurateurs come before dawn to reel in their catch of the day. It’s much later, after the best specimens are gone and the new haul is placed onto the icy trays that the tourists start to wander...

Read More
01 March
dogs, chile, santiago, animals, street dogs, south america

It’s a dog’s life

Dogs in Santiago, Chile Oh, to be a dog in Santiago! Never before have I seen strays looked after so well as in Chile's capital. Their little doggy faces smile up at you, happy and healthy. Their coats shine and there's a plumpness to their bodies you don't normally see in animals on the street. Woof! A young black labrador has started following me on a walk through the park. He runs through the grass, sniffing the things dogs sniff, but always comes back to my side. He's adopted me and I enjoy the company and his friendliness. He doesn't seem distracted by other people and shows me a faithfulness I don't deserve. When I sit down on a bench at one point he sits beside me, waiting for a pat (and, to be fair, probably some food). He won't get any from me this time but there's no fear of going hungry....

Read More
29 February
santiago, chile, free tour, city tour, south america

Hitting the streets of Santiago

Santiago city tour, Chile A light spray of spittle erupts from Felipe's mouth. His eyes are animated, his hands moving wildly and his voice booming across the crowd. As he tells stories of Chile's fight for independence, his mood lifts with the jubilation of victory. When he discusses the difficulties of life under Pinochet, his tone softens in respect for those who went missing or were killed. And as he explains the recent student riots in the city, there's a muted anger in the way he talks. Felipe is an actor and today Santiago is his stage and we his audience. Every day Felipe guides a free tour of Santiago - sometimes two - in exchange for tips. It's a system that's been adopted in cities all across the world. The one in Sydney uses to stop at my old office and point in the windows at us. I'd been meaning to...

Read More
27 February
andres crossing, bus, border, chile, argentina

Crossing the Andes

Crossing the Andes by bus When the combined Argentinian and Chilean armies crossed the Andes mountain range into Chile into 1817, it would lead to the downfall of Spanish control and independence for the country. When I did it, it would just lead to another stamp in my passport. Oh, and a bunch of nice photos of the scenery. I bet the guys in the army didn’t get any nice photos! (Partly because they were probably too busy worrying about that whole war thing… and partly because portable cameras had yet to be invented… but still.) I’ve been on a lot of long bus rides during my time in South America but none has been as scenic and stunning as the one from Mendoza in Argentina to Chile’s capital, Santiago. You see the mountains in the distance before you reach them. They’re imposing enough on the horizon. When the ascent begins, though,...

Read More
23 February