Sunday, December 18, 2016

under the volcano

What a difference a day makes!

Yesterday I bid goodbye to the best hotel room in the world, including the goofy waiter who confessed on the first night that he was falling in love with someone and later asked me to make him a list of my favorite films because he wants to be a filmmaker. He had never heard of ex-pat Chilean Patricio Guzman, director of Battle for Chile about Allende and Pinochet, and of my beloved Nostalgia for the Light about research astronomers and mothers of the disappeared who meet in the Atacama desert.

Today I flew north to 42ยบ to the northern part of Patagonia, the Lake District.
The weather is warm and sunny here. The plants are subtropical. You can tell summer is right around the corner.

The architecture in Puerto Varas is like a Bavarian village. No, really. Germans have been settling here for over 100 years. As you drive along the lakeshore, there are signs for strudel and kuchen.
I ate dinner in this lovely restaurant housed in a giant chalet with the unlikely name of Bonbon Oriental. I was expecting Chinese seafood. A boy of about 8 opened the gate and seated me, handing me a menu. To my surprise, I had a delicious salmon with tender locos (abalone) and the sweetest, juiciest tomatoes. I was the only guest.

 It seemed like every family was out at the lake tonight.


I'm staying in Ensenada, a name that evokes my first road trip to Baja with Missy and Joyce and Cousin Laurel in my tiny red car. Or Aunt Ruthie's condo at Aventura where she lived at Ensenada 2.
The valley is full of volcanoes, some active quite recently. There are scary warning signs everywhere, though not as scary as the tsunami signs.
Volcanoes are everywhere. This makes me happy.

And here's the view from my room: a perfect snow-capped Osorno volcano. Eat your heart out, Fuji-yama.
I was sad to leave behind new friends from Poland and Argentine and Australia and Los Angeles (Chile), drinking Carmeniere and eating tender marinated pulpo (sorry, Susan). But they promised me that drinking a Calafate sour means I'll be back.