Dec 14-16 DAYS 26-28 Raul Marin Balmaceda
I boarded the ferry that left from Quellon around midnight. The ticket reserves you a seat in a comfortable but non-reclining arm chair for a voyage of 13 hours which travels through the night. Fortunately, there was a small area, separated by a railing and overlooking the bow, where people could lay out sleeping bags. Few voyagers used it so there was ample room for me; I settled in. A few times I woke up to feel the ship rock strongly back and forth, but overall I had a long and comfortable sleep.
By 1pm we pulled up to a ramp at a small beach where the ferry unloaded its passengers, goods and vehicles before continuing further south. My animated and gregarious hosts Mauricio and Mery, from Fundo los Leones, were there to pick me up. This tiny town is just beginning to be accessible by land but for years it was an isolated idyll of few inhabitants except for the abundant wildlife. The cabins at the lodge overlook a picturesque bay and guests are treated to delicious and homemade meals prepared by my hosts, most of which comes from local sources including their garden.
It was a time for me to relax, enjoy a leisurely horseback ride by the waters edge with their son Felipe, nervous about his college entrance exams, see an array of different birds including hummingbirds which darted about, and take a walk on a marked path through a dense wood with multiple stunning overlooks of the waters along the way.
The other guests included a woman from Belgium and her adopted adult son from Chile who competes professionally in cycling events. They had only met five years prior and were taking time to travel south along the rugged and scenic Carretera Austral. Their meeting and decision to become a family was clearly enriching both of their lives. Despite our brief time together it was a memorable encounter.
After three days and nights at this peaceful lodge, it was time to say goodbye.