Club Aleman

Club Aleman

The Chilean Lake District is the wettest area in the country about three-quarters down the way of the thin strip that is Chile. It was colonised by Germans who came here in the 1850s and drove out the Indians. You walk around seeing signs for Tea and Biscuits as ‘Tee y Kuchen’ or ‘Farmacia Doggenweiler’.In every town there is a ‘Club Aleman’ for the descendants of the original settlers.

wooden slate houses

Wooden slate houses in Puerto Montt.

The houses are built of wooden slates to withstand the rain and life is generally quite and orderly as one might expect from people of German stock. It won’t surprise us, Europeans, that the Chileans have a saying: “This is as serious as a German wedding“. Yes, South Americans can do irony and sarcasm.

I boarded a plane from Santiago to the 1hr 30min flight to Puerto Montt.The weather was clear and I had a fantastic view of the Cordillera. In fact, the weather was wonderful throughout my stay. The night I arrived rained, but the next four days were sunny, clear and hot. I was told there are only forty of those in a year; I used up a lot of good karma there.

I stayed in Puerto Varas on the shores of Lake Llanquinque with a view across the lake of Volcan Osorno, a perfect cone with ice on top like they make them any more.

Volcan Osorno

Lake Llanqihue and Volcan Osorno as viewed from Frutillar.

Chile has 2,000 volcanoes with fifty of them active. Lake Llanquinque is the third biggest in South America and is so vast that the Spanish, emerging from the Andes, thought they had reached the Pacific. It also marks the limit of the Inca expansion. The people who lived here were proper Indians, the Mapuche and on the Argentinian side of the Andes the Tehuelche. I booked at hotel up a hill with a view of the lake and spent hours and hours contemplating its Fujiyama silhouette.

One of the best views is from Frutillar where I visited the museum of German colonisation with utensils, furniture and reconstructed buildings of the late 19th century.

Museum Frutillar

19h century reproduction of a blacksmith’s workshop in the German museum, Frutillar. The gentleman in the picture is of German origin and forges lucky horseshoes for tourists.

I went to lots during the trip, but this is one of two worth mentioning. A Tee und Kuchen Cafe provided another espresso , my second in Chile after Gil’s on Easter Island. When you start counting your espressos you know you’re going cold turkey on caffeine.