|On Thursday morning I took off south headed towards Cobquecura - a small town on the ocean about a five hour drive. The guide book for Chile was not joking when it said that the tolls on the highway would kill you. I think I spent about 10,000 pesos or $16 to get there. The drive was something. To the east the snow topped Andes loomed and there were vineyards all along the drive. Once over the first set of hills there was no more smog. I stopped a couple times to see a man about a horse and was pleasantly surprised at the nice facilities in the gas stations along the highway. I exited I-5 at N-50 and the scenery was spectacular all the way to the ocean. I reached a small town and got gas and drove the wrong way down a one way street which I figured out after two people honked incessantly at me. Got back on the road.
Never knew there were so many shades of green. The road was lined with bushes with yellow flowers that were in front of forests of pine trees. The only bad thing was that the Chileans are aggressively harvesting their timber and do not appear to have a solid replanting program. I drove through the pueblo of San Nicolas which had the cutest town square I've ever seen. It was very busy so I couldn't snap off a picture. I reached Cobquecura and it was just a small town on the ocean. A few people milled about the streets and of course, there were many stray dogs wandering about. It's funny. Each dog appears to have his or her territory. These dogs are very nice and don't bother anyone except wanting some pets. They appear well nourished so someone is feeding them. Although there doesn't seem to be very many pigeons or seagulls around......
I pulled up to my bed and breakfast called B & B Loberia. Turns out the owner lives between Cobquecura and Stamford, Connecticut. Who would have thunk it. The place is named after what the town is known for: lobos marina, or sea lions - technically this translates to sea wolves which I discussed with Claudia the manager and wolf suggests canine which lion suggests feline. Hmmm. I've got way too much time on my hands apparently.
There are two huge rock formations off the beach that are full of sea lions. The beach has black sand because Chile is quite the volcanic country. I guess it never really struck me just how volcanic Chile is. Like California, Chile lies on a fault and they have regular earthquakes (terremotos) the last one being 6.9 on the Richter scale in April and before that 7.6 in December. In September 2015 there was one at 8.3. When you think about the Loma Prieta quake being 6.9, it is obvious that chile has major earthquakes. Keep in mind the scale is a 10 logarithmic scale so each full number represents 10 times the magnitude. So, for example, any quake in the 7s is 10 times the magnitude of one in the 6s.
Claudia the manager told me that they don't worry much about tsunamis in Cobquecura because it's so high up. So when I walked down to the beach I was expecting to be up on a cliff. Nope. If they ever have a tsunami like Thailand had, the city will be toast. I think the potential for tsunamis may keep people from building directly on the beach - everything is further inland or up on a hill or cliff. I drove down to the Iglesia de Piedra which is a cave in a huge rock formation. There was a nice black Labrador whose territory was this beach and he greeted me when I got out of my car. He just wanted some pets and then went to lay down. I decided that I could never move to Chile because I'd have about 400 dogs. Maybe I should move there and start an animal shelter....
The B&B I'll call rustically charming. It was a 200 year old formation of 4 buildings in a square with a beautiful courtyard in between. What really made it though were the four camellia trees in the courtyard all of which were more than a hundred years old. I've never seen a camellia tree. Only bushes. They were unbelievable. My mom and dad would have loved them. The rooms were huge with concrete floors and no insulation so Claudias husband came in with a paraffin heater since it gets cold very fast when the sun goes down. The bed also had an electric type of blanket which was more like heating pad which felt good after the long drive. I left the next morning and started towards Villarica where I would stay in a cabana in a nearby town called Pucon.