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...two travellers in search of the world's wildlife

5 June 2011

Islands in the fog

3rd June 2011

Yesterday we drove down to Quellon to meet up with a wildlife guide called Jorge Oyarce who might be able to help us find some of the local dolphins and other animals we haven’t seen. Quellon isn’t a very stunning town. Jorge was really helpful, although it turned out that any boat trip to seek dolphins and whales would be too expensive and there’s not really any good place to go looking for the rare Darwin’s Fox at this time of year. He gave us some ideas for where we might look for dolphins from the shore, so for today we settled on a trip to Quinchao island where we could visit some of the interesting wooden churches of Chiloe, wander along some beaches and look out for fins.

So that’s what we found ourselves doing today. Except that the weather decided to step in and make things difficult. Within an hour of leaving our hostel in bright sunshine we were driving through thick fog. Quinchao island was completely blanketed in it, except for the very highest hills of the island where you would emerge from the fog into sunlight with magical views of a fluffy white ocean lapping at the archipeligo of hilltops. But down at sea level visibility was often less than twenty yards; hopeless for looking out to sea and not really good for strolling along beaches unless you like getting damp and cold. We had lunch at a harbour restaurant in Achao, but we might have been eating at a restaurant overlooking Limbo for all we could see. The meal wasn’t amazing. More fish covered in cheese, and this time with raw tomato puree on top as a dressing. Tomato puree. Why?

I’m sure this is a theme I’ve rattled on before, but the two main things that will affect your enjoyment of a place are weather and expectations. I would say over and above the actual attractions of the place itself. And of course you can’t affect either of them. No matter what mental tricks you try, you will form an expectation about a place, whether it’s from rosy wording in the Lonely Planet, gushing praise from someone else, or just an image in your head. And if the reality is less than the ideal then your experience isn’t going to be as good as if you arrive with only the vaguest notion of what you might find. It goes without saying that you can’t change the weather, and I defy even the most ardently English hill walker to claim that anywhere is better in the rain than in the sun.

This blog seems a bit damp, but our day was not a complete dud. The church in Achao was a lovely building with an atmospheric carved interior. We did get to see a brief, distant view of a single Chilean Dolphin from the harbour of Castro at the beginning of the day. And the fog was eerie, giving a different mood to Chiloe and making for some interesting photos.

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