It was rainy off and on during the ride from Chaiten to Futaleufú. The road was paved more than I expected and wasn't bad. One thing is for sure. This rental car will never be the same again. Lol. They certainly are not making any money off me. My little Fred Flintstone car cost $547 for almost a month with unlimited miles. I already have over 3500 kilometers on it and have gone over many many potholes. I did note all the dings the car already had on it when I picked it up in Santiago so hopefully a few more wont be noticeable.
I picked up two hitchhikers - a couple aged about 30 from Barcelona, Alba and Narcis - about 30 kilometers outside of Futaleufu. I felt bad for them because they were out in the rain. It was very cute because as soon as they saw my car coming down the road Alba got her little sign that said Futaleufu on it and both she and Narcia stood together with the sign and hacian el dedo (put out their thumbs). They are traveling in South America for 6 months on foot and by bus with no real plans and with backpacks. Like me they don't like the rain. Turns out they have also done some couch surfing so we exchanged contact info. We arrived at my house que se llama Posada Ely. Una mujer Betty muy simpática es la dueña and she showed me to my room. Best room in the house as it is in the front corner so I can look at everyone passing by. Not that there are many people here. The room is simple with a twin and a double bed and private bath. Rough by American standards but clean and comfortable and cozy. The room is 15,000 por noche and includes desayuno. So about $24 per night with breakfast. Betty told me where to find the lavandería where I could have my clothes washed. I took my bag of dirty clothes and paid the woman 3700 clp (about $6) and she said they'd be ready a las 10 en la mañana.
The most expensive thing here is food in a restaurant. My pizza in Chaiten was 7,000 and a nice pork chop with fries is 8,000. That's expensive relative to European standards and probably the same for American I guess. But no need to snivel about it.
I'm recording all these prices because at least one person whose name may or may not be Tracey said she likes seeing all the prices of things. Plus, I figure if I ever do something like this again or if any of my friends do they can at least have a starting point.
I walked around town when the rain gave up and picked up a few stray dogs. I found a trail up the mountain and I met up with three young people, two of whom were named Nelson who's from Los Angeles, Chile, and Nicole who is from Santiago, who were walking who asked if any of the five dogs now following me were mine. Nope. So the nine of us continued up the hill. After going up a very steep staircase and more trails I'd decided I'd had it and said my goodbyes. Four of the dogs had already gone way up, but the dog who I named Shilo, a Australian Shepard mixed make, followed me and kept coming back to me the entirety of my walk. Even down in the town he followed me, barking ferociously at other dogs who dared bark at him, until he met up with a perra who he had eyes for and from there I continued sola.
I had originally planned to go white water rafting here as it is supposed to be one of the best places in the world. But, given the rain, wind and very cold weather that plan was scrapped as was horseback riding which is also big here.
Betty had a nice breakfast of hot bread, cheese and meat slices, jams, and pieces of King cake in the morning and I met two other guests from Puerto Montt who work for the post office. I had been in contact with a man who runs a horseback riding outfit and he suggested that I go to hike in the Futaleufu National Reserve so I headed out in my little car. On the road there were two hitchhikers who turned out to be Nelson and Nicole. We laughed and they got in and we arrived at the house of the guardaparque (ranger station). The ranger explained the different senderos (trails) and we decided that we'd all go on the easy one which was about an hour and a half round trip and that N and N would then go to the top without me as it is an intense hike upwards and I don't have proper boots or my foot boot with me. (I was glad I didn't try it because they said it was very difficult). The scenery was spectacular. Unfortunately we didn't see an Andean condor but we got lucky as it didn't rain and we even had some moments of sunshine. We planned to meet later for a cerveza and I headed back to town. On my way out to the car I saw two women heading into the park and we said hola. Later, I had dinner at the Hosteria Futaleufu, one of the only places open at 6 pm as people here eat late - lunch at 2 or 3 and dinner at 7-10. Siesta in the afternoon. The two women from the park were also at dinner so we waved.
I emailed Alba and Narcis, the spaniards, to see if they wanted to join us for cerveza. They said yes and when I left the restaurant to head for the pub, turns out they were walking down the street and they called to me so we headed to the pub. N and N were there and turns out that they are all staying at the same camping place but they hadn't actually talked. N and N said they'd invited two women they met hiking and in walked the two women from the restaurant. We all started laughing at how small the town was. One woman is from Chiloe Chile which is an island south west of Puerto Montt. The other is from the Basque Country in the France. A man they met named Peter also joined us later. Peter is from South Africa and is about 70 and has been bicycling around the world for over 3 1/2 years. Wow. He doesn't speak Spanish so was struggling to keep up with the conversation so I interpreted for him somewhat. My Spanish is improving exponentially daily but it's still a struggle to keep up when the talk is really fast. Peter and I agreed how incredibly friendly the Chileans are and how easy it is to make friends here, whereas in Europe it's very difficult to strike up a conversation with anyone. We all exchanged notes on where we'd been and where we are headed. We had a great time and friended each other on Facebook. Turns out N and N were also heading south the following day so I offered them a ride to where our paths would take different forks in the road. I picked them up in the morning after breakfast around 10 am and we headed out. We stopped in Villa Santa Lucia as this is where they had gotten off a bus from Chaiten and they had gone to this little cafe for sopapillas. You need to understand that these towns are very small. Most don't have a gas station. The supermercado is in a small house about 600 square feet. If you want meat there's a freezer with unpackaged pieces of various frozen meat thrown into it. Cafes or restaurants (except in Futaleufu and Chaiten which had two or three actual restaurants) are the dining room in a persons house. So we went into this house and there were three tables in what was probably before the living room. We got a cafe and sopapillas. We arrived in La Junta and there was a market at the gas station. I got a whole chicken that is completely frozen - probably will take days to defrost - some tomatoes and an onion that I would cook down with some old red wine and add a packet of tomato sauce to and I had some pasta already. This would be dinner as I figured there would be no market or restaurants where I was headed in Puerto Raul Marin Balmeceda. I also got some eggs and cheese. I already had fruit, bread, tuna fish and some other things. Plenty of food for two days. N, N and I hugged and wished each other well and they headed on foot to Puyuhuapi and I towards PRMB. I wanted to hurry somewhat because there is a ferry you have to take for about five minutes - free - and it stops running at 6:30 pm. It was about 3 at this point and I expected the drive to be about 1 1/2 to 2 hours on a poor gravel road about 60 km.
An after thought, Betty brought in a gas tank and heater to my room thank god because it was freezing - none of these places have dual pane Windows or insulation - and showed me how to light it. She said later before bed time, she'd bring me a hot water bag for my bed and to turn off the heater. Ok.? So about 9 pm she brought a fleece covered hot water bag which she stuck in between the sheets as a bed warmer. The Barcelonans and I had exchanged stories about how cold the rooms are here and the use of about 6 heavy fleece blankets on the beds. Alba said the morass of blankets was so heavy she could barely move at night. Lol. Anyways, when I got into the bed it was nice and warm top and bottom where the bag was so I moved it further down to keep my feet warm. I've got to tell you this is genius. That bag stayed warm all night and kept my feet toasty all night.
Also, I was wondering why in the guide book when it advertised a place to stay the description of tens times listed hot water as an amenity. One would think any room, cabin, hostel, or other place to stay would have hot water. Nope. You better make sure ahead of time. And, I've discovered that in some places the water runs either cold or scalding hot. You can't get warm unless you keep switching it from hot to cold to get the remainder in the pipes.