Not to be missed in Chiloé
Friday, July 31, 2009
Ancud (Photo: Sernatur)
- The best places of Chiloé
Trekking in the National Park: one of those rare places where you can observe the ferocity of the Pacific Ocean on a solidary beach bordered by native forests. It covers a surface area of 48,057 hectares divided into three lots. The first corresponds to the Chepu sector and covers 7,800 hectares; the second is the Anay sector, with a surface area of 35,207 hectares, while the third is comprised of the little 50-hectare island of Metalqui. From the south there is a beautiful three hour hike along Anay Beach.
Getting to know the Mythology: Enchanters, mermaids, ghost ships, and other beings seem real on the island of Chiloé, where the rich tradition of myths and legends is expressed in vivid images that many people claim to have seen or experienced. The main figures include:
- Pincoya: a woman of extraordinary beauty, sensuous, with long thick hair that covers her back. The legend says that when her dancing facing the sea presages abundant fish and shellfish, because after the dance she will sow shellfish on the beaches and fill the channels with fish. If on the contrary she dances with her back to the sea then traditional belief is that there will be shortages in fish and shellfish.
- Trauco: Perhaps the most famous of all the myths on the island, the Trauco lives in the deep forests and is no more than 90 centimeters tall. He is very strong, despite his small size, and carries a stone axe that he uses to cut down trees. His breath can twist men’s mouths or condemn them to a quick death. Women are very attracted to him and he makes them surrender to him. If they resist then he gives them erotic dreams until they fall into his arms. This myth tends to be the excuse that some single women use to justify a pregnancy.
- The Caleuche: This is a ghost ship used by enchanters that sails by night, very swiftly and very well-lit, both on the sea as well as under it. There are parties and dances on board that attract sailors wandering the islands with their noise and music until they have been enslaved to serve it.. One of the ship’s characteristics is that when pursued it turns into a rock, a tree trunk or simply seaweed, so as to go unnoticed and in that way avoid capture. The punishment for those who look at the Caleuche is to twist their mouths, turn their faces backwards or else cause their sudden death.
- Imbunche: Also known as the Machuco (cunning one) of the cave, it is a human monster that the enchanters have made to walk on three legs and face backwards, in addition to sticking his right leg to his spine.
- Camahueto: Shaped like a calf with short and shiny gray hair with a horn in the middle of its forehead. It lives in rivers and swampy lakes until it reaches adulthood at the age of 25. It then immigrates to the sea, destroying everything it comes across. The medicine men use scrapings from the Camahueto’s horn to prepare potions to cure diverse illnesses, as well as for restoring men’s vigor and sexual prowess.
Visiting the churches of Chiloé: One of Chiloé’s main characteristics is its architectural. Carpentry is an obligatory reference to the island’s soul that can be experienced in the enormous churches that have been dispersed through every village for over 200 years.
In December 2000, the Unesco confirmed 16 churches distributed throughout the Chiloé Archipelago as World Heritage Sites, thus acknowledging the universal value represented by these wooden monuments. The 16 churches are: Aldachildo, Caguach, Castro, Chelín, Chonchi, Colo, Dalcahue, Detif, Ichuac, Nercón, Quinchao, Rilán, San Juan, Tenaún and Vilupulli.
Kayaking in the Channels: A kayak, oars, flaps, and life vests are necessary elements for experiencing Chiloé from the sea, along some of its intricate channels to enjoy the island’s calm and beautiful landscapes.
You can observe fishing activities and varied waterfowl: black-necked swans, pimpollos (Rollandia rolland), three types of seagulls, Pilpilens (Haematopus leucopodus) and occasional flamingos, among other species. In addition, you can reach distant villages like Mechuque, Añihué and those located on the Chauques Archipelago. Dalcahue is one of the nerve centers for kayaking in Chiloé.
Eat a Curanto: The cuisine of Chiloé is something that no visitor to the island can escape from. It includes centuries-old recipes that have been developed and passed on from generation to generation and continue to at the center of attention for visitors and the lovers of seafood.
Of all the dishes of Chiloé, the most famous one is the Curanto in a Hole, a mixture of the countryside and the sea that is prepared in the ground and is a tasty delicacy. First you dig the hole - more or less a meter in diameter and about half a meter deep. You put firewood and charcoal in the hole on top of regular-size rocks. The fire is lit and the rocks are heated until they are almost red. The consumed firewood and the remains of the charcoal are then removed.
Then come layers of picorocos (type of local barnacle), large and small mussels, and taca clams, which are covered with pangue leaves. Then well-washed potatoes are added and covered with more pangue leaves, followed by a layer of longaniza sausages, smoked pork, lamb, and chicken to taste. Milcao and chapalele (different types of potato bread) are placed on top of another layer of leaves and the curanto is then covered again with more pangue leaves and sod.
After almost an hour of cooking, diners can enjoy the blended flavors of authentic Chiloé cuisine accompanied by an apple cider. It is delicious and impossible not to enjoy.