Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Castro, Chiloe, Chile

Another gray day here on Chiloe, and I took off on an expedition to the small towns of Achao and Dalcahue to visit some of the wooden churches the archipelago is famous for. This photo is of the Iglesia San Francisco, in Castro, the capital of Chiloe, where I´m now staying. The churches date from the 18th century, and most were originally made entirely of wood, including the use of wooden pegs instead of nails. Over the centuries many churches have been damaged and re-built, and these pegs have been replaced, so that now very few remain (i haven´t seen any). With these wooden buildings and hilly coastlines, Chiloe is often compared to many parts of the world. I´ve heard comparisons to Scandinavia, Brittany (in France), and Cape Cod. It personally reminds me a bit of the coast of Maine, and the wooden churches added to this impression.

In Dalcahue (these are Mapuche indian names), I visited museum of relics in the back room of the church, and noticed what seemed to be graffiti on the wooden walls. But I quickly realized that this was religious graffiti...prayers and notes of thanks from visiting parishioners and others. Mostly the notes asked San Antonio or God (Dios, or sometimes Diosito, which I love) to protect their family or children. One said "San Antonio, let our love as man and wife never end, and bless our family" and one, obviously written by a little kid, said "Diosito, yo te quiero pedir que mi hermana se mejore de su resfrio" (God, please help my sister get over her cold.) My favorite simply said "Hola Diosito".

So...I´m pretty much done with Chiloe, so on to the next step. My plan was to take a ferry to the mainland, and catch a bus down the Carretera Austral, which is a highway through the mountains, past fjords and glaciers, which is usually described by the words "spectacular", "marvelous", "breathtaking", yadda yadda yadda. However, the ferry isn´t running from here since it´s now the off season, so I´d have to do some backtracking to get there, which would take longer, and I´m afraid the buses may also be really infrequent--and even spectacular places start to lose their charm when you´re stuck there for a week. Also, it´s cold and rainy, and I´m really, really, really getting tired of the cold and rain. So: change of plans, and tomorrow I head back to Argentina, to Bariloche, my last port of call in Patagonia before heading northwards (again).

Check out all my pictures of Chiloe here.