“There’s a storm rolling in. Do you have to kite here?” I asked Jay as he surveyed the launch site at a beach in Pucon, one of Chile’s tourist destinations in the northern Lakes District. “Yes, yes, this may be my last chance to kite in Chile!” he huffed between puffs as he hurriedly pumped up his kite. Undeterred by anything I could say regarding appropriate kiting conditions, Lake Villarrica with the stunning snowcapped Volcan Villarrica looming over its shores beckoned him. Chile, would be the fourteenth country in which I honed my skills as Jay’s official armchair kitesurfing observer and photographer while he ventured into one more unknown and frigid body of water to chase the wind. He loves it.
Our rolling down the very long and slender Chile was mostly accompanied by rainy clouds and a wet chill. That is to be expected in Chile. Photo opportunities were missed in fog encased coastal Vina del Mar and neighboring Valparaiso. Pichilemu, a coastal surf and kiteboarding destination left us cold with cabin fever as the sun never shined and the wind never arrived. But on the bright side, with all of this moisture our skin looks less like an alligator and Jay’s hair is curly again. We tasted the wine in Middle Chile near Curico, the heartland home of Chilean vineyards. We could do that in a rain storm next to the fire, no problem.
The further south we drove it continued to get greener, until we found the snow-bound volcanoes rising over verdant hills and lakes in the Lake District where Jay’s stormy kiting experiment unfolded. Not far to the east is the Argentine Lakes District with San Carlos de Bariloche at its center which we enjoyed during our last visit to the area. To the west on a foggy riverbank next to the Pacific is Valdivia, a city which was the seat of German immigration in the mid-19th century. How could a girl from Milwaukee with German ancestors from the same time period pass up an opportunity to tour a brewery in Valdivia? Cerveceria Kunstmann is real beer, some of South America’s best. We were told that the quality of the water in the area is key to the production and more craft brewers are moving nearby.
With seemingly no end to lakes and volcanoes in the area, the German settlement Puerto Varas is stunning at the foot of Volcan Osorno on Lake Llanquilhue. Adorable with its tidiness and food trucks, it has access to all sorts of outdoor activities and we witnessed the actively fit defying the weather conditions dressed in hip outdoor gear. There were runners in the rain, cyclists all over town, kayakers, stand up paddle boarders and even water skiers on the big lake.