South America Part IX - Lakes Region

This day was so perfect that we again had to pinch ourselves with the thought of just how lucky we truly are! For the first time in days the area was covered with bright blue sky and brilliant sunshine. We boarded the bus early and headed east for the first lake crossing. On the way the bus stopped at a national park to see the waterfalls of the Petrohue.

Photo #1 shows the Volcano Osorno in the background of the falls. Aboard the first ferry and ready to start across Lago de Santos (Lake of the Saints), everyone was asked to come inside for the departure. Soon after we sat down at a table, another couple wearing sweatshirts saying Central MI University joined us. Inside the sweatshirts were Ron and Donna Franzen from home…or as close to “home” as it gets anymore. We have often told others that the best part of traveling for us is the people that we meet along the way. Ron and Donna proved it again. Although this part of the trip would always be special to us, they made it extra special. We spent that day and the rest of the weekend in their company.

Ron and Donna are living in Valdivia, Chile for six months during which they are teaching a course in business English at the university there. They are using this experience as a springboard for seeing more of South America. They were pleased to see the sunshine that day too as a relief to days on end of pouring rain in Valdivia.

During the first lake crossing we pulled close to a small island with one curious round yellow house sitting atop the hill. The water level was very high putting the ramp from the dock under water. Standing on part of the dock was a man. The ferry pulled in close and delivered a package to the man. We found out later that the owners of the island leave their dog with the caretaker and our delivery had been dog food. It made us wonder about the poor man and what he was eating. At least the dog won’t go hungry.

The day was beautiful and the sights never stopped coming. There were mountain peeks, volcanoes and waterfalls. We made a stop to bring mail to a hillside community totally cut off from the rest of the world except for their contact with the daily ferry. We stopped for lunch at a hotel just short of the border between the two countries. During lunch we heard a helicopter approaching and were delighted to see a Robinson R44. Those birds are everywhere!

After lunch the group boarded two different buses for a short ride to the mountain that divides the countries. To get to that bus we had to ford a large section of water about a foot deep. We were relieved to know later that our bags had been transported in a vehicle with a very high axle and not beneath the bus. All day long we witnessed the affects of the unusually high water level due to heavy rains.

We were told that the most expensive part of the trip is the bus ride over the mountain that separates Chile and Argentina at this point. During parts of the year the trip is impossible because of the condition of the mountain road. We could imagine just that.

After the border formalities were out of the way, we made an effort to spend the last of our Chilean pesos on super cups of hot chocolate. We would later regret that we did not hold onto some of them!

Arrival in Bariloche, Argentina was about 7:30 that night. After settling into a hotel we wandered around the city looking for a restaurant with Ron and Donna. Swiss and German immigrants settled the area around Bariloche and the architecture reflects their influence, as does the multitude of shops selling chocolates. We were eager to explore them but that would have to wait for another day.