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Castro, Chiloe Island - Monday, 9 March 2015

Tour the island with its unique architecture and the famous churches of Castro, the capital.

Woke up for early breakfast at 6.00 am as we were going ashore at 8.00 am to Castro on Chileo Island.

Took some lovely early morning photos.

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Castro is one of the most interesting cities of Chileo Island, South America's second largest island after Tierra del Fuego and visited by Charles Darwin in 1838.

The island, first inhabited by Chonos (now extinct) and Mapuches from the north, mingling their genes with those of the Spanish conquerers, gave birth to the Chilotes, the people of Chiloe.

The chilote culture was very influenced by the Jesuit missionaries who arrived in Castro in 1608 and stayed for 160 years to preach the gospel to the natives.  In order to cope with their apostolic mission in a place of difficult geography and scattered population, they built chapels everywhere, with over 150 chapels on the island, rarely more than 10km apart.  16 have been declared UNESCO World Heritage, including the yellow Cathedral of Castro and the church in Conchi.

First stop was the Gamboa Bridge over the Gamboa River where we viewed the "palafitos", wooden houses built on stilts above the water, something very typical on the island.

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The tide fluctuates 5 metres and at low tide the people gather seaweed to sell.  We saw some at the markets in Castro.  It looked disgusting.  I'm not sure if they eat it or not.  Yuk!

This cemetery is a very old one and costs a lot of money to own a plot there.  Because it was so expensive, once they had the land, they built up and stored a lot of bodies above ground.  There are other normal cemeterys and some cremation is also done.

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Everyone seems to drive reasonably good cars, but their homes are very small and run down - almost in a state of disrepair.

We went to Vilupulli Church, a National Monument which was built in the 1700s and visited by Charles Darwin in 1853.

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We visited Chonchi, the three-storey town, with its houses arranged in steps on the hillside.  It started as a Jesuit missionary residence in 1754 and the construction of the church was started at that time.

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There was a huge monkey puzzle tree in the yard. I don't really know about these trees but a lot of the others did. I don't think they are native to South America but I also don't know where they come from.

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Check out the foundations!

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We also visited the Museum of Traditions which showed how the people used to live.

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Hanging out with some locals.  The smaller women was really cuddling in!

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Back to Castro and visit the yellow Casteo Cathedral.

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All the buildings are so beautifully coloured.

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On the way back to the ship we called into the local Castro markets.  Lots and lots of different varieties of potatoes are grown in this area.  And the cloves of garlic are HUGE!

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This is seaweed.

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Back on board in time for lunch and we sailed straight away.  We are sailing through a very calm channel.  It reminds me of European River cruising.

The doctor called in to give me two sea sick patches for the open sea journey tomorrow and one for the Galapagos - just in case.  He wouldn't let Baptiste remain in the room while he asked me a few questions about the patches and if I had had any side effects.  I said I didn't mind him being there but he wouldn't let him stay.

It is a beautiful sunny afternoon, sailing on a calm sea.  Patch on and all is well with the world.  Had a little snooze and meeting Rikus for our disembarkation debrief at 7.00 pm at which time he will have a surprise for us!  Wonder what it can be?

Our meeting for 7.00 pm was put back indefinitely because of the sighting of blue whales.  Everyone was running from side to side to try to see them but they were quite a long way away.

Rikus has reserved tables for us for dinner outside on the back deck of the sixth floor.  It was lovely sitting out there, watching the sunset.  As soon as the sun went down, the wind came up and it got quite cool.

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We met with Rikus at 9.00 pm and he went over tomorrow's program and our disembarkation.  Then our surprise!  He had put together a CD of our trip with everyone named in it.  It was really great and he did one for Antarctica too.  We just have to give him a memory card or a USB stick and he'll down load it for us.  He is such a nice guy.

Have put my name down for a tour of the galley.

I leant Shirley my kindle so she could read "Three Weeks" before the cruise finishes.  She keeps pressing the wrong buttons and getting herself into trouble.  She is liking it, like I did.  It is so descriptive.

Posted by gaddingabout 20:11 Archived in Chile

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