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Sueño Sureño : Capítulo Los Lagos

a e i o u . . . La vaca eres Tú ! !

overcast 23 °C


Just to let you know, this update is costing $500 Chilean pesos per hour to write. That’s about $1 USD… And the “s” on this keyboard doesn’t really work, so my apologies in advance. Also, I’m in a bus station.

Update: it took less than an hour to write.

In other news, last Wednesday I left my hostel in Chonchi, Chiloé and spent most of the day taking micros, boats, large busses, colectivos, and finally a truck to reach my next destination: Purranque, Chile. There, in the house of the Gangas-Coronados, I spent a few days SANS INTERNET on their farm. Purranque is soooo off the beaten tourist path that it’s actually right on it: just off the Panamerican Highway 5, except that no tourists take the turn.

In any case, it was an experience, I think, of living like the majority of Chileans in this country live, or have historically lived. Luis and Cristina, the parents of 9 year old Paulina and 5 year old Aracely, included me in on all the things they do on their very active farm. At this time of year, one of the biggest tasks is helping the “terneros” (calves) twice a day from the field into a barn to milk from their moms. The calves are only 2 months old but are gradually being weaned from their mothers´ milk so that soon they will subsist solely on grass and water. (Is it not then amazing that cows can produce milk on that diet???) So the “vacas” (mama cows) are kept in certain fields, away from the terneros or ternerITOs, if you’re feeling Chilean.


That day was actually time for the calves to get their monthly injection of antiparasite treatment, so we herded them (they actually herded themselves into an obscenely tight cluster) to receive the injection. Luis did all but one and then passed me the syringe. He was like, all you have to do is pinch the shoulder skin up and then put the needle in so that it goes in one side and not out the other.

Hmm, I though. Simple enough. So I grabbed this sweet calf’s shoulder and tried jabbing the needle in and figured it must have punctured the skin, so I ejected the liquid. Unfortunately, the needle wasn’t in and the magic juice squirted on its fur. I told them I had missed, so they refilled the syringe and let me try again. I’m actually not sure if I made it the second time either, but I didn’t want to tell them that I missed again.

Long story short, if one brown and white calf dies of worms in the next month… it was probably my fault.

Moving on, we also got to herd cattle on horseback. WHOOAAAA NELLY.

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Also, I helped bake pan (bread), Pan de Pascua (Christmas bread… though Aracely pronounced it Pan de Kwakwa), and kuchen (sometimes spelled küchen, though according to the German girl in my Chonchi hostel, that is incorrect and not in line with how the Chileans pronounce it).


Today, on my last day, the family, who actually live in the community of Los Angeles (not that big city… NO not THAT one either… there’s another Los Angeles in Chile, silly) outside of the town of Purranque, hosted Paulina´s class for a day in the country. This day included a big parrillada (BBQ). And unlike lame suburbanites who just mosey over to the store to buy whatever cuts of whatever kind of meat they desire, these hearty country folk actually walk over to their herd of sheep/pigs/cows whatev--- kill it--- and like 3 hours later eat it. It’s a novel idea.

Anyway, I witnessed the slaughtering of not one but TWO corderos (young sheep). We were going to have one, but then all the dads were hankering for another and put in money (amounting to $60 USD) to kill another. I helped prepare vegetables. And play with the children.

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[ cherries we picked from the back yard ]

I finally left later this afternoon. Cristina dropped me off next to the highway. That’s actually the best thing to do… since not all busses pass through all towns´ bus stations, but they all take the Panamerican Highway. It turned out that there was a Pullman Sur bus direct to Valdivia just WAITING for me.

I split in half my last remaining alfajor from Castro, Chiloé with the nice, quiet old man sitting next to me.


So now I’m in Valdivia the next few days. It’s supposed to be one of the most beautiful towns in Chile, not to mention have an interesting German-tinted history. So I’m staying in the Hostelería Ana María for 2 nights to explore the town tomorrow. Then I’m off for another rural homestay in Los Liles, a bit south of here near Corral, for another 2 nights, hoping we’ll be able to go on a boat ride at some point.

After that, I decided to give in to the mysterious allure of this place called Pucón and have reserved a bed at the well known hostel ¡école! (Apparently that’s some Chilean expression, though I never heard it. Qué fome.) Hoping to see the Ojos de Caburga recommended to me by John M., probably not even come close to Volcán Villarrica, nor its bubbling summit, and maybe row a boat. I’ve been into boat recently. “Into” while never getting “into” one. ¿Cachái?

Posted by KKS 21:10 Archived in Chile

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Hi Kam,

I've just been procrastinating from studying for my Brown finals by reading your blog. Wow, the whole rural-homestay-method of traveling sounds amazing. Herding cattle on horseback, and slaughtering sheep, and sticking needles into baby calves... that's an awesome way to be a tourist. It seems like you're having quite the adventure! Enjoy the rest of your travels.

Caitlin Browne

by KamKam

Kam, I remain jealous of the non-touristy approach you're taking. Some Pucón advice:
¡école! is really cool, great vegetable food, fun atmosphere, thin walls according to Eliza, but overall great. I know it's French but might also be a Chilean thing I, too, have never heard...?
My parents, as well as some 70-year-olders got up the mountain. There was some pulling involved. I think you should do it. Aguaventura is a good tour group, others seem fine too.
We did rafting today, excellent. Go for the class IV rapids.
According to my parents, Ojos de Caburga is tacky and touristy.

Enjoy it and I'll be reading eagerly about the next few weeks. I'm flying home tomorrow!

by jgang

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