Wednesday, February 13

Patagonia 3: Puerto Montt, Chilé

Puerto Montt: Gateway to Chilé's lake (and skying) district.
Two days out of Santiago the Norwegian Sun sailed into the Reloncaví Sound, and to Port Montt, Chilé some 650 miles south of the capital where tenders brought us into the city gateway to the nation's playground of lakes, volcanos, and waterfalls.

While dry in summer, it's a wet port city in the Llanquihue province of the Los Lagos Region. With a quarter million population it's at the southern end of the Chilean Central Valley and gateway into the Chiloé Archipelago and the Handle Heap lakes and Western Patagonia. It's at the heart of the Chilean salmon aquaculture with a culture formed by a swirl of German, Spanish, and Chiloé peoples and its labor force growth's attracted workers from all over the country, and continent.

Frankly, Puerto Mott is a pass-through bland place of concrete and somewhat soviet architecture. It was quake-shaken mostly to rubble in the 80s when they rebuilt largely utilitarian cement structures for this hard-working port city. Most tourists drive a few miles north to Puerto Varas and Frutillar, Germanish towns on Lake Lanquillue where the older architecture of quaint (and wealthy) vacation buildings stand in the shadow of the majestic snow capped  Orsono Volcano. Styled like Swiss and Austrian chalets these homes are largely surrounded by walls and wet-fanged Rottweilers. And just north of Puerto Varas meet Mary & Joe Mayberry who treked beside us up to Petruhue Falls...

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