We sadly said goodbye to Gracias a la Vida today, and said thank you. Our new destination is only a few hours away in Castro, an absolutely lovely small town which, unlike its Caribbean dictator name-sake, is absolutely charming and welcomed us with open arms. We checked into the equally charming Patio Palafito, definitely recommended for couples assigned the beautifully appointed and terraced rooms with views of the sea but not so much for families of four having to fit in the tight and creaky bunk beds in a row reminiscent of a train on its way to Dachau, complete with barking dog soundtrack and no heat. Gina was not happy with me when I told her I had booked this place based on the strength of the pictures on their website and hadn’t even looked at the room descriptions. No special hugs until I prove myself then. Still, the café/lobby/reception is undeniably cool, don’t you think?…


The inside/outside feel of the wood shingles gives breakfast a wonderful feel, mostly that of feeling like you’re already on your way out, exploring Chiloé Island, which we were quick to do.


Gina’s cold was catching up with her so she stayed behind for some overdue rest as we jumped in the car in search of the mythical Muelle de las Almas, an important piece of art for islanders built somewhere in the mountains by artist “Chumono.” It is said to represent the soul’s departure from the body at the moment of death in the shape of a bridge to nowhere. Fun!

Given basic instructions by the hotel’s barista, we were told to drive for about an hour and a half, past Rahue to Punta Pirulil in order to reach a farm where we would meet Don Orlando and his wife, Señora Sonia, the Key Holders. We would then pay 1500 Chilean Pesos each (about $2) in order to receive a numbered pass before parking the car and walking another hour to the homestead of a nameless family who would test said key  opening the door to the next hour of mountain trekking to the eventual sea, we shall call them the Gate Keepers… Amazing. Let’s go.


The road was treacherous but lovely, we even did a bit of beach driving since no one was there to tell us we couldn’t. There was only one house on the horizon after seemingly endless hairpins turns, and sure enough, it was Don Orlando’s. As we approached, he came out, told us that niños no pagan and sent us on our way into the wilderness…


The approximate path by the sea, if not quite as delineated as we were expecting for an art gallery, was overwhelmingly beautiful, like a postcard of a postcard. Framed. With dimmers.


As we gingerly walked along and the kids did what they usually do on long hikes, tell each other interminable stories of morally ambiguous retired spies unexpectedly embroiled in an agregious community board dispute, Sebastien and I soon realized we were alone in a foreign land, in the middle of nowhere, with no cell signal or clear indication of what we were looking for or where it might be. Amazing. Let’s go.


As we got closer, the signs pointed to danger so we went right through and, past one final hill, were rewarded with the kind of view that only comes after effort…


There it was, the bridge to the afterlife, to ultimate freedom, to everlasting love. Sebastien contemplated the possibilities…


We stayed there about an hour, looking around one of the most peaceful places I have ever been in. We wandered, we wondered and we praised “Chumono” for the fulfillment of a vision that sends people on a quest in order to find him. The conversations that happen on the way to Muelle de las Almas might not otherwise occurr on the way to a museum and, the beauty of the bridge in this incredible setting notwithstanding, that is the  genius of it. The long walk there, filled with discovery and trepidation; the long walk back, spent discussing what we saw…


As the sun set over this metaphor, we took one last look and went on home to tell Gina all about it… Amazing. Let’s go.


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