Feria Fluvial de Valdivia

We’d already become acquainted with the sea lions of Valdivia on our first night in town. But even that experience could not prepare us for what we would see at the fish market.

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From a distance you hardly notice its inconspicuous structure on the riverbank. But as you get closer, you hear it.

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The din of pelicans, cormorants, vultures, seagulls, hawks, sea lions, not to mention the shouting of vendors as they hauled, gutted and cut their produce was quite something.

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Wings flapped through the air whilst webbed and clawed feet grappled for balance in the spot most likely to allow a quick swoop down to catch the innards being thrown into the water.

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Huge, blubbery bodies lumbered up on to the docking areas, or skimmed gracefully through the water, back and forth, in anticipation of a chunky fish head or other unwanted scrap.

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Knifes filleted, descaled and cleaned; huge shellfish were piled high, weighed and thrown into shopping bags; colorful home-made liqueurs and oils sat in reused bottles; cheeses, fruit and bundles of seaweed towered in piles.

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A misty rain drizzled down and all the while people kept coming; to buy, to chat, to photograph…to eat.

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Navimag ferry, Puerto Natales to Puerto Montt

The Navimag is part cargo ship, part passenger ferry that travels through southern Chile. We boarded in Puerto Natales (together with a lorry full of cows and a few other, more silent, containers) and traveled north to Puerto Montt.

The journey took us through narrow channels, past misty green islands with cascading waterfalls. We saw a glacier, a shipwreck, a tiny village where it rains at least once a day. We rode on the open sea, with rolling waves that sent people to bed or out on deck in search of fresh air. We passed between south america’s largest island on one side and the distant Andes on the other, while sea lions and sea gulls floated by.

We built our days around meal times and lectures on glacier formation and the flora and fauna of Patagonia. We stood on the bridge with the captain and examined charts and radar as if we knew what was going on. We slept comfortably in curtained bunks and washed in hot water that turned off after one minute. We read books, played cards and drank beer in the little lounge bar.

We had a good time.

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4 night/3 day journey from $300 for a dorm bed, all inclusive: accommodation, meals, entertainment (lectures & films). Buy tickets online or in the Navimag office in Puerto Montt and Puerto Natales.