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Arrival in Puerto Varas
Craig and Steph's Horseback Ride in the Andes

(Stephanie Smith)
We arrived at Puerto Montt airport at 6:50 pm. Craig went straight to the LAN desk to ask if there was any way that his hat could be recovered and brought to the Puerto Montt airport. We knew it was a long shot but we felt compelled to try to do something. Craig had visions of his scalp peeling off in the Chilean sunshine. Daniel, a very nice employee, was very helpful and understanding. He took our contact information and said that he would look into it. We were expecting a transfer to our bed and breakfast in Puerto Varas, but noone seemed to be there to pick us up. I used a pay phone to call the Guest House, and spoke to Isabel. She asked me to call her back in 10 minutes. When I called back, she had secured a transfer, and told us the driver would be there in about 10 minutes. After a short wait, the driver showed up and drove us from Puerto Montt to Puerto Varas. There was bad 80's music on the radio, ranging from "Mr. Roboto" to Samantha Fox. It wasn't a very long drive from the airport and the sights were rather interesting. Clearly this region of Chile (Region X) was far more populated than where we had come from and we were getting pretty excited to start the next leg of our journey. We stopped at two separate toll booths and our driver was very friendly with both attendants. This made us feel very happy because we always feel people are very rude to toll takers at home. It was nice to see people being so friendly in day-to-day situations. As we came off the main highway into town we immediately saw the church steeple we recognized from our guide book. As a matter of fact, we drove right by it. We sort of laughed saying, "maybe this is all there is in this town".

We arrived at the Guest House at a little after 8 o'clock. We met Vicki Johnson, the American proprietor, and Isabel. It was an old house with nice, high ceilings and lots of wood trim details. It was tastefully decorated. The main room was a combination of living room with several couches and dining room with a long regal table. Our room (#2) was right off the dining area. We went inside to drop off our luggage. There was a rag doll on the bed, and handmade chocolates and inspirational sayings sat on the nightstands. There was handmade soap in the bathroom. It was very welcoming. Our room had a wardrobe that reminded me of the book The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. I half expected to be able to open the door and pop out in the land of Narnia. After dropping off our stuff, we headed out into the living room. We sat on a couch, and Isabel brought us a folder full of brochures for all of the possible activities we could do tomorrow. We had some ideas but hadn't planned anything in advance, since we were unsure of how we would feel after all the hiking in Patagonia. Since we both felt really good, we were up for something exciting. The option which appealed to us most initially was the island of Chiloe. We had heard wonderful things about it, and we recalled seeing it on Michael Palin's "Full Circle" television program. This morning at the Ecocamp, the cook had told us that if we were going to the Puerto Varas area, we should definitely check out Chiloe. We also met a nice couple that were staying at the Guest House that had just spent a few days on Chiloe and they both highly recommended it, so we had been sold on the idea. We found a day trip which included a van ride to the island, and we hoped to be able to do that. Isabel made some phone calls, but it was too late at night to get an answer, so we were resigned to waiting until the next morning to nail down our plans. Craig and I felt pretty unsure about that actually happening and we wondered what time we should even wake up to insure a nice breakfast and enough time to coordinate such an excursion. Isabel headed home for the evening and was replaced by Anna, an American girl who was working at the Guest House and learning Spanish. Realizing there was little else we could do tonight, we went to bed at around 10:30, hoping for the best in the morning.

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