Monday, December 14, 2015
#2 Puerto Montt and Petrohue Falls
The morning after we left Valparaiso, we landed at Puerto Montt, Chile. Puerto Montt is the gateway to Patagonia in the Lake District of Chile. Puerto Montt, named for Chile's President, was founded in the 1853s when the government advertised for German immigrants to come and settle. It is the second largest producer of salmon in the world; Norway is number 1. There is a large colony of blue whales who winter there in what is our summer months.
In Chile, the little towns are called communes and the country is socialist. In 1969 in Puerto Montt, 91 landless squatting families were told by the socialist government to squat on landowners properties. At midnight on June 9, 250 policemen opened fire on the families, killing 21. A song called Preguntas por Puerto Montt (Click to hear it) was written to commemorate the massacre. It was used as a protest song by Che Guerava.
Very well, I will ask
for you, for you, for that one,
for you who stayed alone
and the one who died not knowing (the rest of the translation is about the killing)
After the huge earthquake in 1962, Americans sent lots of money to help the people of Chile. The earthquake left many homeless so the American government under John Kennedy built hundreds of these apartment buildings. In honor of the US President, they named it Poblacion Kennedy, loosely translated as Kennedy Center for People.
There are over 90 active volcanoes in Chile, including Calpuco which erupted in in April 2015. There was ash several feet thick all through the Patagonian Forest lands toward Llanqihue Lake.
The area is temperate rain forest. Tides in the lake vary up to 26 feet. The town on the lake is named Frutillar, also called the City of Music. In 1865, the city was settled by German immigrants who were overwhelmed by the beauty of the lake. It looked to them like the lakes and Alps around Switzerland and the Black Forest in Germany.
Did you know potatoes originated in Peru, not Ireland? I was very surprised. The food, however, was wonderfully German.
Volcan Orsono reaches up to 8700 and is covered with snow most of the year. Past eruptions have created many lava flows and beautiful falls as the water etches out a myriad of paths. Petrohue (prounonced Petro-way) Falls flows through these lava runs.
We boarded a catamaran on Emerald Lake. The locals call the lake Todos dos Santos, All Saints. it is the largest lake entirely in Chile. I guess there are other large lakes but they must cross borders. Todos dos Santos is a glacial carved lake and the waters of the lake and the nearby Petrohue Falls is that oxygen rich aqua blue.
The forest is ancient, some of the trees are over 4000 years old. Those huge trees used to be cut for their hard hard wood used for police barricades, but now they are protected. The Saltos del Petrohue, or Petrohue Falls, are in the Vicente Perez Rosales Nacionale Parque. The falls run through the basaltic lava flows.
On our way back to the ship we were lucky to catch this South American Grey Fox lounging in the parking lot, most likely looking for scraps left from a picnic.
So beautiful, this land of hard lava edges and beautiful soft mountains.
Stay tuned for the next stop!