Friday, January 2, 2009

Mirador del Rio

Knowing poor little La Junta as we do, we weren't anxious to stay there, nor were we anxious to drive all the way in the increasingly bad weather with only an hour or so of light, all the way to Puyiuiapi. After a small argument about passing a fallen tree...between gouging the truck on one side...or sliding into a ditch on the other...and after a nice truckload of men pulled us out of the ditch, we saw a sign for a hospadaje called Mirador del Rio. It is six kilometers from la cruce de La Juntal. Fearing a Bed and Breakfast price tag, we stopped anyway to ask. The Mirador del Rio is one of several rural turismo businesses in the area where local families host travelers in their homes. Here, we stayed in a cozy house with the family on their farm bordering the Rio Palena. This was one of the best stays of all our travels. We were settled in and having coffee in the kitchen with Francisca and her husband, chatting for an hour before we realized they had no electricity. Gooseberry jam cooled in jars on the kitchen counter and the old wood stove blazed. They fired up a generator for a couple of hours so we read in our room and listened to music. The winds were incredibly fierce all night long.

In the morning, after they came in from milking the cows, Fransisca put a large pot of fresh milk on the wood stove to pasteurize and prepared a nice, typical breakfast with homemade bread, homemade jam, homemade butter. The grandchildren, Barbara, seven, and Luca, four, gave us a tour of the farm. We collected eggs, took a walk down by the river, Luca chased sheep while Barbara pointed out and named different plants and flowers. I sat out on the porch having coffee and a cigarette watching the weather clear and saw a matte cup sitting on the ledge. It had some kind of skin covering and I asked Barbara what the covering was. "Juevo de Baca," she said. Ah, skin from the nuts of a cow. Oh lordy. We hung around talking with Fransisca and her husband, asking about the small town of Raul Marin Balmaceda, where we had been headed until the number of downed trees and hideous winds had turned us back. They said it is not possible to get there right now because of the road, and the bridge is out. There is a hot springs you can visit close by, another 15 kilometers down the road, for 1,500 pesos, rustic, but nice. Their eldest son is a certified fishing guide in the area. Mirador del Rio was by far one of the most pleasant places we have ever stayed, so much we hated to leave. But the South of Chile was calling and by 1:30 pm, we were headed towards Puyuhaipi and onward.

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