A superb night of rest. We were up early and prepped ourselves for the day with a quick shower, the best in Chile.
Puerto Montt was already in sight.
Our ferry pulled to the dock around 9AM. The 3rd mate took the same cargo elevator with us down and we said good-bye to all others.
The streets outside the port were bustling with pedestrians, buses, and all sorts of street vendors. We didn't have
a map for Puerto Montt and from the one inserted in the guidebook, we couldn't figure out where the port should fit.
So, we took our best guess and followed the coast line up. After twice ending up in a dead-end market, we took out
the GPS and started cycling uphill toward what was supposed to be Ruta 5, the Pan-American Highway.
We could have taken a much better route, instead, we passed mad dogs chasing at us from unfenced yards, fish processing factory, and what must be a dumping station from the smell, until a last steep hill took us finally to Ruta 5.
The drivers were courteous on the highway and the shoulder was quite wide. We made good time and arrived at the ferry depot just in time to catch the 1PM shuttle.
Half hour later, we landed on Chiloe. With so much had read about the island, especially the inclement weather boosted by
less than 50 days of sun a year but more than 150 of storm, it was unbelievable we were greeted with beaming sunshine.
I believed we deserved some reward.
Ancud is a little more than 30K away. We cycled through undulating hills with farm houses scattered around. The traffic
was not too heavy, mostly buses and milk trucks carrying old fashioned big tin cans. Right before the city, we took a short
break at a lookout over a bridge and the city of Ancud, hugging the ocean on hills.
The city is busier than I thought, and the streets are kind of dirty. We first stopped at the bus station to get
information on schedule and fare to continue up north then rode to the city center to find a place to stay.
We checked with a couple of places and ended up in Hotel Lluhay right by the ocean on the slope of a big hill. Graham
recommended the place to us for its unique bar. Outside Lluhay is a huge sign with "accommodation and meal" in at least
25 languages. The Chinese version says "To sleep and To eat", well, close enough.
Soon as we walked inside, Hector the owner took us to the dining area where an artist was working on a new 25-language
sign. Hector asked me to write down the proper Chinese characters so the artist could draw. That's quite an honor.
Our room was quite spacious with two double beds and the price was very reasonable. Hector is proud of his Lluhay and
his "Grande desayuno", the biggest breakfast in Chiloe. We were easily bought in.
We unpacked and headed out for dinner. El Sacho's which was recommended in LP was just around the corner. The restaurant
is not fancy looking. Noticing all other patrons were locals, we believed we had our choice. After weeks of
seafood desire, we finally got to order ourselves a curranto, a Chiloe must-have, and Congrio with fries.
We had no idea what our curranto would look like. First the waitress gave us some salsa, and then Brian found himself
in front of a giant bowl of stew the size of a kitchen sink and whatever inside was bulging out. Turns out curranto
is a seafood mix with everything from fishes to conch to shrimp to scallop and on top or bottom of those, two chicken
legs, two sausages, one piece of ham, and two discs of rice and corn flour cake. My Congrio was not for the ones with
a small stomach too. All together to the best of our ability, we had to leave one rice cake behind.
Arms locked together we walked back to Lluhay. Several fishing boats were out on the ocean. Shadow of the
moon dragged long on the gently waving water. Across the bay on the slope, hundreds of house light lit.
We pushed the door open to a world of music and laughter inside. Hector was hosting a local performance show.
A man was singing folk song while playing a guitar. Hector waved us to sit next to him. Behind us, stacks of
firewood made up the base of the fully stocked "marine" bar. A wooden anchor along with chains hung from atop.
Plants that according to Hector has been growing for more than 25 years traverse the ceiling. Next to us was
a piano with antique dolls on the cover.
After the folk singer, a woman dressed up as an old lady carrying a basket went on stage. She kept saying things
that made everybody laughed so hard. There were more than twenty guests and all seemed to have a great time.
Even though we didn't understand much at all, the atmosphere was simply lovely.
We ordered a bottle of wine. Hector showed us his treasured guest log book. Pages after pages, we read nothing but kudos
for Hector and his wife. They met while he traveled to Chiloe from Chillan and she never let him return. In the end,
Hector asked me to contribute something. There was only one entry written in Chinese and he wanted to keep it diversified.
Hector has a way of making all guests feel welcomed and at home. He is keen on a chat and is ready to discuss almost
everything. Despite smoking like a chimney, Hector is a master in hospitality, grace, and charm.