Chiloe: A Near Miss

Palafitos on the Shore of Castro on Chiloé

In 2014, I was within a mile of the ferry from Puerto Montt, Chile, to Ancud on the island of Chiloé. Chiloé is one of two places in South America that lay claim to the first cultivation of potatoes, the other being Peru. Why didn’t I go? Because of a 1963 documentary by Joris Ivens entitled À Valparaíso, I was dead set on spending several days in the port of Valparaíso before returning to Los Angeles via Santiago. You can see this documentary by clicking here. Even though it has a French soundtrack with Spanish subtitles, you can see why I wanted to see the city.

And so, Chiloé is one of those places I almost but not quite visited. The island is famous for its palafitos, brightly colored buildings clinging to the shore on wooden stilts, and also for its wooden churches, built without benefit of nails and frequently covered with wooden shingles. The climate is a humid, cool temperate climate; and the island is covered with rare temperate rain forests.

Church of San Francisco in Castro

Back in 2000, the wooden churches of Chiloé were collectively named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Chilotes have a unique stew called curanto, which includes seafood, meat, potatoes, and vegetables. The dish is buried in a deep hole filled with hot coals and covered with stones.

I would love to spend a week in Chiloé sometime, “Had we but world enough and time.”