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  • Writer's pictureTim and Lindsey

Let's hope those Volcanoes don't go smoking! - Days 453-454

We are now in Puerto Varas, quirky, creative and let's hope those Volcanoes don't go smoking!

“Are these your nuts sir?” We were at the Chilean border again. This time the sniffer dog didn’t go for Tim’s nuts, but a Customs Officer was very interested in them, so much so that they were confiscated. Oh, will we learn? And you can imagine the many innuendos that have come out of our mouths since!

Chile has very tight controls when it comes to food. All fruit, vegetables, as well as dairy, meat, honey, wood …and of course, nuts either need to be declared or not brought in. We were lucky as sometimes people have been fined. This strict policy is to prevent disease and pests being brought into the country, so as not to affect the environment and economy. And who can blame them?

It wasn’t long after driving over the border that we could see Osorno Volcano. What a picture! A perfect cone that looks as if someone’s poured thick white cream over the top. We circumnavigated it and eventually came to our destination for a couple of days, Puerto Varas. Why here? Well, it’s said to be a charming town with traditional German Style architecture, nestled on the banks of Lank Llanquihue. And the main reason is to see the incredible views of the snow-capped Osorno Volcano and also Calbuco Volcano, Both are still active, and the latter one erupted in April 2015 with the ash cloud rising at least 15km into the sky. Thankfully there were no casualties. Let’s hope they don’t decide to start smoking while we are here!

Our friendly Airbnb host came and met us from the bus terminal, and it was a short walk over the disused railway line to our accommodation. We have one ensuite bedroom in a shared house and, to be honest, it is below our usual standards and expensive. We have discovered that Chile is very pricey with high living standards, probably the most prosperous of the South American nations.

In the evening I managed to finish booking all the flights, buses and accommodation until we reach Peru in just under a month. We’ve found that Atacama, North Chile, is extremely expensive – more than double what we usually pay. Let’s hope it is a bit better than here!

Day 454. We wandered down to the town and found a nice café overlooking the lake and the incredible views of the Volcanos. Again, what a picture! We ordered lunch and Tim started chatting to three Americans on the table next to us. It’s so lovely to see how Tim effortlessly talks with people far more these days. I think I am the quieter of the two of us now. Yes, I know that is surprising.

Joan, Pat and Jerry are on a cruise from Buenos Aires that has taken them around the Cape Horn and up through the Chilean fjords. Joan is a violinist and directs Quin Tango, bringing Tango music to the masses. (I found a fabulous article about her: We do meet fascinating people.)

Pat and Jerry got married five years ago and, if I heard right, they are fans of Quin Tango, and often come away with Joan when she organises Tango experiences. We had such a lovely chat with them, and they seemed intrigued by our travelling. It does make me smile when people are amazed at what we are doing. If only they knew of all the boo-boos we make; going the wrong way, losing things and being in the wrong time zone for three days etc. Haha, at least we don’t take life too seriously and go with the flow. We said a warm farewell; they are off to Santiago for the final leg of their cruise. It will be funny and lovely if we bump into the three of them there in a couple of days.

The weather was a lot hotter than we expected, so we stripped off while watching people swimming in the lake, and again, admiring the view. We booked a tour to the two volcanoes for tomorrow before catching our night bus to Santiago, so that’s our next day sorted.

I remembered reading about a rather eccentric museum here in Puerto Varas, so we walked in the direction to visit it.

On the way, we noticed the rusty remains of Santa Rosa Steamboat which used to carry up to 150 passengers. Now it is a bit of an eyesore on the beach. However, we noticed a giant metal spider perched on it. As we continued along the shoreline, we saw many other sculptures made from recycled metal and a platform with a yellow bath sliced in half to make two chairs. This was an open-air exhibition by a rather groovy Ozkar Longko Toro called Metalmorphosis; cool and amusing stuff.

We carried on and found the Museo Pablo Fierro. Well, you couldn’t miss it! With a giant cuckoo clock on the right, a boat sticking out on the left, ramshackle balconies with giant candy sticks and an old yellow 2CV, just like the one I had when I first met Tim.

The place was a maze, with stairs leading us to various small rooms such as bizarrely, an old classroom. As I came out to one of the balconies, I noticed a man sitting peacefully and looking out to the lake. “Are you the artist?” I asked. It was, indeed, Pablo Fierro who has created this crazy, yet endearing place. He showed me how the house used to look - surprisingly normal. From 2002, the building has evolved. Somehow it reminds me of Alice in Wonderland with a mad collection of stuff. I would have loved to chat with him more, but the language was a barrier and Tim had strolled off with my mobile, so no google translate or photo of this fascinating man. The passion seemed to pour out of him, and all the notes that people have written and stuck on the walls about their thoughts and experiences of this place and its curator echo this.

We walked around more, a harmonious mix of trash and treasure greeting us, Pablo’s collection of memorabilia from bygone colonial times together with his beautiful art. I read a review on TripAdvisor of this place “It's an artist paradise and a Feng Shui nightmare all at the same time.” A great description.

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