Birthplace of the Spud

Not a lot of people know this, but over 90% of the modern world’s potatoes are actually descended from specific varieties native to Chiloé. There are some 400 varieties of spud here known locally as papas nativas or papas chilotas and they come in all shapes, sizes and colours with mixed bags of them sold all over the place, typically beside the road in string bags.

Another local delicacy is seaweed which, like the spuds, comes in all shapes, sizes and colours. There are bunches of brown cochayuyo or bull kelp and strange dark green cakes of seaweed called luche – in the main town Castro we’ve seen people walking around cherishing these objects and wondering why the hell they were carrying cow-pats. Now we know. Another oddity previously mentioned in a post is now understood to be a rock-dwelling sea animal called piure – you can see long strands of these reddish tubes knotted up in bunches and sold on the roadside. We’ve also found the odd one washed up in front of the cabin but haven’t remotely thought of them as a meal!

Dalcahue (dal’kawe) has one very fine Feria Artesanal packed with locals from the surrounding islands selling their craft, which is largely I have to say knitted things – all things woollen, woollen booties (see pics, for people of all ages – their soles are sheepskin, wool on the inside – Ant), blankets, jumpers, ponchos, bags, gloves, willy-warmers – you name it. And on a cold day like today, it was hard not to buy something! The other thing they do is baskets. Very fine. If we were travelling with a smaller baggage allowance, we might have invested.

A dramatic change in the weather overnight – perhaps that was it for summer here, for today it’s been overcast, blowing a gale and really cold. We ventured into Dalcahue, the local market town (for the aforementioned craft market) and also its supermarket, along with dozens of smaller stores mainly fruit, veg and meat.

Home for the afternoon in front of the log fire and listening to the wild weather – only to hear some odd whistling outside which turned out to be a flock of very woolly sheep munching their way up the hill with a local wrangler (it was the wrangler whistling, not the sheep – Ant). Slippers on for the evening.

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