|Driving in Chile's Lakes Region||1 | 2 | 3|
ENTRE LAGOS, CHILE — We managed to see a lot today: an excellent overview of the southern lakes region. We started in Puerto Varas, with a nicer-than-usual breakfast in our B&B, followed by a short trip into town in search of something remotely similar to Pepto Bismol (which we still can't find anywhere), and anything that would help our car stop smelling like a giant ashtray. On the way back from town, we briefly walked along the shore of Lake Llanquihue, scarcely making out the impressive volcanic mountain that lay behind the mist, and trying to decipher the meaning of a giant Timex timer counting up (a triathlon underway, perhaps). But after debating whether to walk around the lake or the town some more, we decided there wasn't all that much more for us to see in Puerto Varas, so we returned to the car and headed north.
Our first stop was just a short drive north along the same lake, to the town of Frutillar, famous for its heavily German-influenced architecture and its annual two-week music festival, which was going on right now. We parked the car, and walked along the town's one main street, following the lake's shoreline. Technically, this was "Baja Frutillar", or the "lower" part of the town. The "upper" part, about 4km inland, was home to a bigger set of the population, including all the businesses and "industrial" components of the town. In only an hour, I couldn't help but fall in love with this tiny town. (The fact that I didn't speak Spanish hardly seemed to matter from the look of the place.) As we walked among the streets, we found ourselves poking into an auditorium, where we saw an orchestra breaking up as it finished its rehearsal for the morning. The sight (and chaotic sounds of post-rehearsal noodling and jamming) brought back tons of memories from high school: late night wind ensemble rehearsals, distant All-County or All-State festivals, the occasional spot in a community band...it was quite an intense flashback. I had to walk out quickly, because it was really taking me back, but I was far, far away from those with whom I could share it.
We walked back to the lake, and examined the concrete foundation of a rather large concert hall that was being built over the water. It amused me to think that someone felt the need for such an elaborate structure in an obviously small and otherwise dead town. (Then again, that might be an unfair assessment, since we never saw the "upper" part of the town.) Apparently it wasn't without problems, too, as they were almost four years into it and it was still far from being finished. Further south down the lake, we took advantage of the German influences here by stopping into the "Kuchen Haus" for a couple of outstanding pieces of (naturally) kuchen. Man, if only these South Americans could learn a thing or two about German pastries!