In Chiloe! The big island off the southern tip of Chile, Chiloe was the last portion of Chile to be conquered by the Spaniards and to this day remains strong in its individual island/indigenous cultures.
Desiring an escape from home in Puerto Montt, I hopped on a bus after ballet class Saturday, and motored South. Being alone was fabulous as I was tired from incessant ballet practice and constant activity. My seat was across the isle from six very jovial and rowdy men. Their activities aggravated me at first, but I allowed my iPod and book to lull me into a sense of solace. My own seatmate was a very quiet and unobstrusive young boy. Thus I passed the time reading and listened to music, but mostly I just dozed and watched the scenery flow by outside my window. The hightlight of the four-hour drive is always the ferry tip across the Bay of Chacao. Separating the big island from the mainland, the Pacific Ocean spills in to the left and sets the hundreds of little islands to the right afloat. There are always sea lions playing among the algeas, and often the Pacific current creates a white-capped section in the middle of the crossing. There is no thrill like riding a ferry through the rough section and being flirtatiously caressed by the cold salt water as you lean out over the ferry’s sides. Leaving the bus and shunning the raised platform where most of the passengers stood, I found a solitary vantage point, standing on an iron protrudance, causing the wall to reach my hips. The sea roiled about 5 feet beneath me and I balanced there the entire crossing, absorbing the tableau as much as I could. The wind buffeted my hair, seabirds swooped and dove, the mighty engines towed the cargo of buses and cars, and the feeling of being blown free of all my problems and stress filled me with a desire to dance and shout. I climbed aboard the bus with a renewed sense of joie de vivre.
The remainder of the trip passed without a hitch, although I fought sleep in fear of missing my stop. As I was only carrying a messenger bag, I left the bus with no ado and ran across the highway to where my hosts were waiting to take me on to their little town. We drove about half and hour more and reached Quemchi! The scenery of the big island is akin to that of the Irish country-side. It is all softly rolling green hills dotted with wholly white sheep, small houses, trees, and blackberry brambles that threaten to overpower the barbed-wire fencing. On an overcast day, grey clouds hang pregnant with rain, pillowing the horizon. On a clear day, the bright sun sears the landscape with brilliant color, and the blue sky is a saphire backdrop to the landscape.
The town of Quemchi is right off the beach and from my host’s house on the hill there is a gorgous view of more islands, set nets, boats, and just general sea-town life. I spent a lovely weekend with my friends in their home, and when I hopped on the bus to come back home, I felt like a new person, ready to face the following week and ballet exams with illogical energy and renewed passion. I firmly believe one must face one’s problems, but a runaway to Quemchi can only strengthen me to do so!
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