Bruce Good, Seabourn’s director of public relations, is currently sailing on a 14-day Patagonian Passage voyage aboard Seabourn Sojourn. He will be blogging throughout his cruise and sharing his experiences as he explores the beauty of South America. Here is his latest post; stay tuned for more updates!
We anchored at Puerto Montt about 7 AM today. The day was gray and threatening, but oddly perfect for this location. The town appears to be a real workaday port. They do ship a lot of fish our of here, but quite a lot of it is trout and salmon from the nearby lakes, notably Llanquihue,(pronounced roughly Yankee-way) which is South America’s largest at 877 square kilometers. Puerto Montt was founded by an arranged immigration of 200 German families in 1856. The Chilean Catholic church arranged for the president, Manuel Montt, to invite the Germans from Kiel, because the local population was made up mainly of fishermen who were not clearing or planting the land. Once here, however, they discovered that the volcanic soil and poor drainage made agriculture unproductive on the coast. They did begin industriously clearing the virgin forests of the huge alerce trees, the same as the sequoias of North America. This straight-grained, durable wood leant itself to the split-shake shingle industry and thus the predominant building style with typical German-style shingle facades which are seen everywhere. Harvest of alerce is now forbidden by law. I took a tour which climbed from the port to the higher plateau, which was handsomely cultivated for agriculture and dairy grazing, and elsewhere covered with golden swaths of blooming gorse (also imported by the Germans.) We visited Puerto Varas, on the shores of Llanquihue, a resort town that has on occasion views of snow-capped Osorno volcano across the lake. That’s the rumor, anyway. I may have glimpsed its big toe under the drifting clouds. Nevertheless the town is charming, and I did take pictures of its red-roofed cathedral, built out of the alerce wood, and an early harvest of cherries, strawberries, lettuce and English peas that some enterprising gardeners were hawking in the street. Then we continued up the lakeshore to Frutillar, another atmospheric little German settlement, with a colonial museum showing a working watermill and gardens. Below is a picture of a Seabourn guest sheltering under a huge leaf in the garden, looking like an elfin queen. Back on board, we were entertained by a spirited folkloric troupe of young people dedicated to preserving the local music and dance.