Five days, four nights. One zipline, two plane rides, five boat rides, lots of bus rides. Beautiful landscapes, rain drops and wind and ocean, cows, local artisans and their craftsmanship, quiet moments, lakes and volcanoes and greenery. Sunrises and sunsets.
I think I like spring break in Chile.
I really enjoy living in Santiago. But I know that I am not a person who could live in a city forever, and going to the South was good for my soul — and probably my lungs too. There is so much green everywhere! It honestly reminded me a lot of Scotland: rolling hills, lush green grass, usually overcast, often raining, cows and sheep everywhere, beautiful big lakes, lots of comfort food, chimneys. The main differences were that everyone speaks Spanish there and drives on the right side of the road.
We flew into Puerto Montt early on Friday morning to begin the adventure. We had a bus driver and tour guide who stayed with us all week — Sergio and Sebastian. They shared their lands with us just as they’ve shared their lands with people before us, and they did so with patience and kindness.
If you ever plan on visiting this oasis of a region, here are some of the places we visited that I particularly enjoyed:
Parque Nacional Chiloe, Lago Todos Los Santos (Lago Esmeralda), Saltos de Petrohue, Puerto Varas (all of it was lovely)
Parque Nacional Chiloe is full of indigenous trees, flowers, and berries. Some trees have orange bark. There are giant leaves, big enough for me to have wrapped my whole self up in one if I had chosen to do so. The ferns are also massive. I squished a berry in my hand, and it smelled like mint and made my skin super soft. But don’t eat the smooth, dark berries (advice from our tour guide)… This area is made up of Valdivian Forest, though it is not in the region of Validivia, which is confusing. Whatever it’s labeled as, though, it is undeniable gorgeous.
Lago Todos Los Santos is the lake of teal water. It’s also known as Lago Esmeralda, which means Emerald Lake. When the light strikes it just right, it actually does appear to be an emerald green. It’s magical. We took a boat from one side to the other, and I watched the water get thrown off of the back of the boat. I think water is beautiful — all water, really. But water that is dyed green by glacial minerals was extra difficult for me to take my eyes off of. So I watched the drops of water jump up and dive back onto the surface of the lake as the boat cut through the water like it was just regular old agua. Which it was, I guess…
Los Saltos de Petrohue blew my mind even more than the lake did, honestly. We got off of our bus and walked about five minutes to find ourselves on a bridge, looking down into the green green water that ran between the boulders that it had carved out to create a through-way for itself. I’m not sure where it was going in such a hurry, but that water was rushing. We were surrounded by the sound of water crashing into itself and squeezing through the rocky channels and landing on top of itself below.
Then we turned around and found the sight of Volcán Osorno, an active volcano (last erupted in 2015). The volcano sat to the left while the green water below minded its own business of turning into several waterfalls and tossing itself over the edge of the boulders. Osorno may be an active volcano, but it also has a forever-cap of snow. (Fun fact: There is ash trapped in the ice up there, not from its own eruptions but from the eruptions of a neighboring volcano several kilometers away.) This moment. This moment was my favorite. There is just no way to express my thoughts and feelings in the moment. It felt so surreal — that view could not have actually been right in front of me… I could have watched those waterfalls all day, quite happily. That water has no idea how special it is, nor does it have any idea that it’s in the middle of, quite possibly, one of the most beautiful places on this planet. Foamy waterfalls are cool, but fast-rushing teal waters that crash into ever-churning, fluffy-looking piles of white and pale-blue foam at the bottom… Those are epic.
The Spanish word for waterfall is cascada. I like that word. It makes sense.
Puerto Varas is a lakeside town with a view of Volcán Osorno that was founded by Germans, which is reflected in the architecture of the buildings. There are roses planted all along the streets. It’s very tranquil, and it’s impossible to get lost because it’s small and organized in neat blocks; it’s made even easier to navigate by the giant landmarks of the the lake at the bottom of the hill and the view of the volcano beyond that.
I woke up to watch the sunrise both of the days that we stayed in this town. It rises right behind the volcano, so I could sit by the lake and watch the morning start as the seagulls paddled around in the water and plucked their breakfast from below the surface. I can’t see the sunrise from anywhere near my house in the city, which makes me a little bit sad. But the lack of sunrises in my life for a while gave me the opportunity to fully appreciate the majesty of this part of Creation. So thank you, Santiago, for being smoggy and full of tall buildings. If it weren’t for you, I might have thought that those mornings in Puerto Varas were “pretty neat” or maybe “lovely.” But I saw them a little more clearly for what they really were: indescribable.
If you can see the sunrise or sunset from your own window, try to see it with fresh eyes today. I think that I’ve always taken it a little bit for granted — another day coming or another day going, with some exceptions. I will probably take it for granted again in the future, but do me a favor and see that part of Creation today if possible.
God is so beautiful. He could have made the world however He wanted. He could have made it gray and dusty, but He gave it life and color and all kinds of smells and sounds. And we get to live right in the middle of that.
Peace and Blessings and Cascadas x
(From [the memory of] beautiful southern Chile)