WEDNESDAY FEB 19 DAY 24….
So another night of “motion in the ocean” and we arrived at Puerto Monte, Chile.
Puerto Monti is a southern Chilean city (1000 kilometers) 600 miles south of Santiago…. It is also known as the gateway to the “wild south”(the name….a topic for another day)
The city has a population of 220k, gets a lot of rain (47” to 108”) ….consistent temperature year round (51F) making it ideal climate for farming.
So as we have been sailing south, the temperature is getting considerably colder …..particularly in combination with the winds ….it is funny ……you would think as you go south, you would get warmer but we are getting colder….
I guess being on the other side of the equator quite literally everything is upside down. Warm is North /Cold is South, their Winter is our Summer/ their Summer is our Winter etc etc…. so I have graduated from a bathing suit to a ski jacket as we head south towards Antarctica
Outside of Puerto Monti, two small German hamlets (Frutillar Bako and Frutillar Alto) reside on the 3’rd largest lake in Chile (Lake Llanquihue)
The water is deep blue…..fed by glaciers. The lake faces Mt Orsono, a snow capped volcano, creating a spectacular view.
This area was settled by the Germans who came to Puerto Montt in search of a better life …. villages were established in 1853 and inhabited by the German/ Austrian immigrants….the land was heavily wooded creating rich fertile soil for farming….cattle were brought over in 1890 and a thriving business in agriculture developed (farming and milk).
Puerto Montt was effected by a major earthquake in 1960 . . … most homes were destroyed but a few still remain.
Earthquakes have left a big impression on locals in both Peru and Chile ….every guide has brought up the affects of earthquakes in their area just as someone from New York might bring up 9/11. The subject clearly has had an impact.
Chile deals with earthquake tremors almost daily…. I didn’t feel any …I may be desensitized from the “motion from the ocean”
Chile did have the worst earthquake recorded in history in 1960…. a 9.6on the richter scale (scale 1-10) that killed 3000 people…. completely wiping out whole towns. The 1960 earthquake was actually what initiated the funding/building of the Pan American Highway form Chile to Alaska, known as Rte 1 West in the US.
The most recent earthquakes, 2010 and 2017, killed over five hundred people and generated a tsunami that destroyed many coastline cities ….movement from quakes in this region have actually sunk the teutonic plates in the earth 4m (12’)… hard to image 12’ and what the heck is a teutonic plate anyway (irregular shape slab of rock deep in the earth)
Chile/ the Andes also have volcanos ….most of which have been dormant for years. Puerto Montt has 3 volcanos. Mt Orsono the 8700’ volcano seen off the lake, is active but has been dormant since 1869….the highest volcano of the three is 18,900 feet…. bordering on Argentina
Unlike most homes we saw in northern Chile (constructed of Brick and concrete). Homes here are built from lumbar from the local forests. The older homes used shingles
Today each village is about 30,000 and typically retirees, farm owners and those that were successful in Santiago have settled at the lake.
A typical condo with a view of the water/ volcano run about $800k
Most of Chiles population is Catholic
however many migrating Germans were Lutheran
The region has the largest Lutheran population in Chile… though in the 1500’s it was mandatory to be Catholic. Chile made an accommodation for the Germans.
The area is known for its agriculture.. salmon, blueberries, strawberries, lumber from all those trees and beef…..McDonald’s is required to use Chilean beef for all of their hamburgers in Chile.
These German village are famous for their apple strudel … it is served in all the local restaurants
Frutillar is host to the international music festival for classical music …. held once a year for 10 days…
a large music house (Performing Arts Center) was constructed in 2010 over the lake to host musicians from all over the world performing a series of classical concerts
In 2017 Frutillar became Chile’s first UNESCO creative City of Music of music
The climate is ideal for plants as you can see by the abundance of beautiful gardens surrounding the community
Even Cemeteries are maintained with flower beds through the gravesite
preserving German traditions … architecture, flower gardens, specialty foods, Music and agriculture….it feels like a small town in Germany or Austria
Daily life seems typical to ours with a well developed infrastructure. Walmart (named Lider ) is in Puerto Montti is so popular, a second tier of Walmart was built , ekono …….. sells for about 20 % less, a ware house type setting like Cosco
There is also a new state of the art hospital built in the area….all benefits of a a strong economy … with unemployment at 2.5%
The area is a picture perfect storybook ending… idyllic life in a country that has so many unique areas … what a contrast to Santiago the day before.
Puerto Montt is the last stop of the Pan American Highway…. tommorow is the gateway to the “wild south” Patagonia …. even though it is part of Chile it can only be reached by boat or driving through neighboring Argentina.
So back on the boat….”The Wild South “here we come
Next Port … Laguna San Rafael, Chile