Puerto Rio Tranquilo and Marble CavesApril 11 in Chile ⋅ ⛅ 55 °F
Lago General Carrera is the largest lake in South America, and is shared with Argentina—where it’s called Lago Buenos Aires. The Carretera Austral runs down along the exquisite western part of the lake, and I stopped to visit the hamlet of Puerto Rio Tranquilo to see the famous Marble Caves.
One has to see them by boat, so upon my arrival I hurriedly booked a trip there—to take advantage of the lovely afternoon light, and to avoid a day of rain forecast for the morrow. The marble caves and other formations are truly remarkable—carved by glacial movement into quite exotic shapes. The marble is “young,” soft, and not the type that Michelangelo carved. A marvelous tour.
The town itself, with its 350-person population, was of interest to me as well. I stayed in a hostal with other foreigners, which I at first abhorred. Why? The shared bathroom for one. But also, if I am in Chile, I want to meet Chileans—not a bunch of foreigners like myself. HOWEVER, I developed a much better attitude by talking to the lovely owners, a family from the north, a French jazz violinist, a French enthusiast of Namibian music and song (both of these Frenchmen entertained us with their skills); a young Japanese man who quit his job and was slipping into volunteer work to re-invent himself, a pair of young women working for a mining company up north in Chile’s Atacama area, etc. I can see why the hostal experience has been so important for so many travelers.
I made a new friend in town, an ex-veterinarian who runs a campground and sightseeing boat service. And I also enjoyed walking around and seeing such things as the very atmospheric cemetery. You’ll see what I mean in the picture section.
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