Saturday, January 26, 2008

Chiloe Island, Chile (January 24, 2007)

On Thursday, I took a day-trip from Puerto Varas to Chiloe Island - Chile´s second largest island after Tierra del Fuego. The island boasts ownership of the southern terminus of the famous Pan-American Highway, although that claim is apparently contested by a few other towns in Chile and Argentina.

Countless small islands dot the coast of the large island, and some of these harbor penguin colonies, which were the primary reason for my visit. Other people come to see the unique Chilotan architecture: a fusion of indigenous and European architectures, with 16th century Spanish, 17-18th century Jesuit and 19th century Franciscan influences. Chiloe Island´s many quaint churches are on UNESCO´s World Heritage List.
Colorful island buildings with traditional Chilotan wooden shingles
The intererior of one of Chiloe Island´s churches. I was told that the body of the church was built to resemble the hull of a boat, due in part to the many fishermen there.
Penguins congregate on a protected island off the coast of Chiloe Island. In addition to penguins, I also saw sea lions, otters, cormorants and a dolphin.
Desolate beaches and the beautiful Pacific Ocean
I should really have posted a photo of one of the many fish merchants at the island market, but I couldn't resist this one: it's pet food by the sack!

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