Dick and Jane's Travels

A Travelblog (click on any picture to enlarge -- then click again to make it even bigger)

Monday, January 16, 2006

Puerto Montt, Chile

Visited Tuesday, 22 November 2005

(Click on any picture to enlarge; click a second time to see it full size)

What spot does it mark?

We didn’t know what to expect during our brief visit to Puerto Montt as it is the capital of the X region of Chile. (I guess they ran out of names or liked maps or algebra). Germans started the town in 1953, naming it after a Chilean president. Rain and cold kept chasing us back into the bus throughout the morning but the day improved as the hours advanced. (OK, if truth be told – why start now? – Chileans number their provinces using Roman numbers, instead of coming up with names like Texas and California. Somehow, this province is a perfect 10 – and parts of it are for scenery.)

Movin’ and Shakin

Most of the town, including the waterfront (top) was rebuilt in 1960 after the big one – the largest earthquake ever recorded (9.5 on the Richter!). The quake lowered the land about a meter, causing massive flooding. (From the picture of the colorful fishing boats above, it looks like the water got lowered, but we think that would have changed if we waited for high tide.) A tsunami went out to the rest of the Pacific, but that’s another story.

The harbor is quieter now and is a major destination for cruise ships navigating the Southern Cone like the one in the picture at the top of the page which also got its photograph taken in Valparaiso the day before (were we being stalked?)

To give cruise ship folks something to do, a row of quaint shops with nearly identical tourogoods clings to the east end of Avenida Angelmo, the main drag between the pier and the Angelmo Fish Market where we had our soup.

Fingers and Soup Kitchens

Given the cold weather, Jane purchased these Technicolor gloves at one of the shops in the artisan(?) market and modeled them for us:

Puerto Montt is the seafood capital of Chile; and not just because it is the heart of the salmon farming region. We got a flavor (pun, as always, intended) for the Angelmo Fish Market by sampling fish soup, prepared by a local chef (see picture below) assisted by Madeline, one of our tour members. The chef was deaf in both English and Spanish, but this didn’t stop him from waving food at us, talking loudly, and moving his somewhat-finger-challenged hands constantly.

Plaza de Armas

Earlier in the morning, we toured the town square, Plaza des Armas (above). Due to Puerto Montt’s earthquakes, this is the plaza's fourth incarnation. Spread in front of the cathedral, the plaza is named “Manuel Irrarrázobal” and was the first public square in Chile with a garden.The square doesn't look like much, but remember, it keeps getting rebuilt. Come back after the next earthquake and it may look even better!


Directly across from the rebuilt town square stands the 1856 cathedral, buit shortly after German settlers founded Puerto Montt in 1853. Made of Alerce wood (a very slow-growing tree found only in Chile and similar to the sequoia), the Iglesia de los Jesuitas somehow survived the 1960 earthquake. Here's a couple pictures of the front of the church and the frieze on the pediment -- all in this ancient wood, of course:

Unfortunately, the church itself was closed while we were there so we couldn't photograph the interior.

Not much happens in Puerto Montt itself, especially when it rains as it did on us; but it is the capital of the Lake District so a lot of people move through here on their way to some spectacularly scenic outdoor recreation. After our brief visit, we returned to our hotel in nearby Puerto Varas and took a walk in the sun which appears, it seems, only in the afternoon in this part of Chile.


Where are we now?

Click here for an interactive map of Chile.




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