Thursday, January 14, 2016

Driving Chile - Part 2

14 January 2016

Yesterday we left Lebu and headed back toward Ruta 5.  The roads continuing along the coast were either gravel or dirt, making for slow travel.  We're approaching the region referred to as Patagonia (although there's no defined line where the region begins, or maybe it just varies depending on who one talks to).  Anyway, we headed toward Ruta 5 so we can drive more quickly to the south, and spend some time enjoying the area.

In the midst of the coastal range, the Cordillera Nahuelbuta, we found Lago Lanalhue, a beautiful lake.  It was an amazing blue, like lapis lazuli, deep blue with flecks of white, all surrounded by the varying green hills - just so gorgeous!  We found a scenic overlook, and just enjoyed the beauty of this lake.

But we had to move along, since it was late afternoon.  So we kept on driving, winding our way through the forest, hoping to see some animals.  (We saw some geese, but that was about the extent of it.)

We finally arrived in Temuco, the largest town in this region.  We parked and grabbed our small bags, walking around with our map and book to locate a hotel.  It took a while, but we found a nice hotel and brought our things inside, then walked back to move the car.  (Just easier to walk in a city, rather than driving in all the traffic.)

Somehow, in all of that walking around to find a hotel that had a room available, I went to unpack my bag.  And, well, I couldn't find a small bag I had tucked into an outside pocket of my backpack.  A small bag containing my laundry.    With, yes, my dirty laundry.  We looked all over the room, outside, up and down the street.  All to no avail.  

My dirty laundry was gone.

I have to admit that I'm probably more upset about losing this great little shoe bag that I was using for my laundry bag, than I am about losing the laundry.  That was just five pair of undies, and I have more in my bigger luggage.  But it was a pretty bag, bought in Japan in 2014, and it coordinated with most of my other small organizer bags.  I like having my luggage organizers coordinate.  

The other part is that I find it really funny!  I mean, think about it.  Someone finds a cute little bag on the road, thinks they might keep it, and then they find it's full of used underwear!  What would you do?  I just keep laughing about it, I find it so funny!

We decided to stay two nights in Temuco - it's a nice city, we're in a pretty area, and we both need a break from the constant travel.  We need to catch up on our sleep.  I needed to catch up on the blogs.  And we need to do laundry (even with my missing undies.)

Temuco has a number of plazas, or squares.  The one closest to us seems to be one of the major plazas, though we don't know the name.  But the benches are all painted, with animals, or scenes of Chilean landscapes, or abstract designs.  Fun, whimsical, decorative, and just wonderful!  Of course I had to walk around the perimeter and through the middle, taking photos of empty benches and seeing as many of the designs as I could.  (No, I didn't ask anyone to move so I could see their bench or take a photo.)

I also tried a few benches - each one feels a bit different, so I suspect these are old benches that were refurbished and painted.  It really is a great project for community involvement.  I'm not sure if this was sponsored by the city, or possibly by individuals, or if these are all by local artists, or what.  Some of the benches were signed by the artist.  But it definitely creates a lively and fun plaza.

We also walked through the central market and had lunch there.  It was the usual collection of handmade items, produce, meats and cheeses, and household items.  There also were fabric and textile shops, including knit items - and gorgeous balls of yarn.  I really enjoyed the colorful yarn displays, from HUGE round balls to twisted skeins, creating abstract compositions of pure color.

I realize it sounds a bit daunting, that we're driving around a country or continent where we barely speak the language.  Plus the Spanish varies from country to country.  (We've encountered a new word for "street" or "block" here, it sounds like izchina or izquina.  In Peru, a block was "quadra."  Took us a while to figure out what izquina was!)

Anyway, we aren't travelling around totally blind.  We started with maps of South America, which are good for planning but not great for driving.  When we stopped at the tourism office in Santiago, we were told about the great tour books available at one of the local gas station chains.  Each book covers one region of Chile, with maybe three or four books for the set.  Each book has maps, descriptions of major sites to see in the area (of course all in Spanish), small inset maps of the city centers, and listings of hotels and restaurants in the cities or major towns.  Which are all indicated on the city inset maps.

So we do have a book to guide us, as well as very detailed maps for driving around.  Just wanted to mention that, since my family and friends know that I don't have much of a sense of direction.

Tomorrow we head south.  We're entering the zone of volcanoes, more lakes, and eventually the area of Chile that's more islands than mainland.

Should be interesting!!!!

And we both hope to find the penguins!!!!



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