Gap: Futaleufú Development Trek

“Trip of spontaneity”

  • Day 1: Driven before hiking 30 minutes Erwin’s house
  • Day 2: Lamb slaughter, ferry, driven to Melvina’s
  • Day 3: Melvina gave us a tour of her farm and told us about farm life; chores around the farm; community meeting about our values
  • Day 4: Melvina showed us leatherwork; then we left Melvina’s and it was raining; rained for most of the day; 5-mile hike to Refugio next to Lago Las Rosas; slept inside the Refugio
  • Day 5: Layover day at Refugio; sunny all day; meditation time with Nancy; environmental studies and Spanish class; free time; games
  • Day 6: Rained all day; lost our finger mobility; mudslides; rained ~5 miles; passed many waterfalls; major river crossing because of the flooding; Got to our gracious host Mama Theresa’s home, who dried our clothing and demanded that we sleep inside
  • Day 7: Short road hike to Hostal Las Natalias where we were based out of before the expedition

The group’s second expedition was one that had plenty of spontaneity, or as the local Chileans say “flojiando,” and remaining “tranquilo.” On this expedition, leaders Sydney and Libbey were joined by Nancy, one of the owners of Hostal Las Natalias, where the group stayed before the expedition and where the group is currently staying. Nancy moved to Futaleufu in 2007 as an English teacher and created the hostel 10 years ago. She continues to teach yoga in town. Her husband, Nathaniel, also runs the hostel and leads kayaking tours throughout the week. Nancy’s knowledge of the area and locals was very valuable and made the trip special.

On the first day, the students were told that the plan was switching and adapted very well. They were driven to a gentleman named Erwin’s home. Erwin has lived in this home since he was a child and was very hospitable, allowing the entire group to sleep inside his spare bedrooms. The students had a discussion with Erwin about his way of life while being warmed up in his cozy house. The next morning the group ate fresh plums while waiting for Erwin to return with the sheep he was going to slaughter as a gift for his mother. Many students watched and helped with the traditional slaughtering. Some even drank the blood! After students checked in with their advisors and took a day hike to a beautiful vista, they were picked up by a ferry on Erwin’s shore which dropped them off at Espolon. They were then chauffeured to Melvina’s hostal by a few locals. The group arrived at Melvina’s huge farm that sat in the middle of the valley and walked past all of her animals before being greeted and shown a place to set up camp. The next morning was the start of our layover day at the farm. After eating breakfast we all followed Melvina around the farm. She showed us the goat pasture, the logging station, the rodeo ground, and then the garden. All of the students were assigned chores and accomplished a lot before dinner and evening meeting.

Melvina wanted to show us how she harvested the wool from the sheep the next morning, and we stayed until that was completed. The hospitality of Melvina’s family made it hard to say goodbye, and we walked five miles up and over one of the mountains to reach our next destination. We arrived at a semi-abandoned “Refugio”, which was surprisingly clean and nicely maintained. The students were pleasantly surprised when they found out they would be able to sleep inside. After getting warm and setting our wet clothes out to dry we ate dinner, had an evening meeting, and then went to bed. The students were told at the evening meeting that the next day would be a layover day due to the weather report in the upcoming days. The first activity the next day was a guided meditation that Nancy led. We had reflection time after that and then came together again for environmental studies and Spanish class. The students were granted free time after that and played games for a couple of hours before dinner prep began. Feeling anxious about the day six hike everyone ate a big dinner and got plenty of sleep. As expected, it rained all day, and the trek was difficult. We zig-zagged up the mountain and made little progress in the direction that we intended to go in. The process was delayed even more by a couple of river crossings, which took a long time due to safety concerns. The feeling of seeing power lines and then our next accommodation was a bright sight to many of the cold and tired students. The students were welcomed by “Mama Theresa”, who graciously dried their clothes above her wood-burning stove and demanded that everyone sleep inside her house.

The students then woke up to a sight not seen the day before, the sun. After thanking Mama Theresa, the students split up into their hiking group and walked ~3 miles along the dirt road before spotting a familiar sight, the beautiful Hostal Las Natalias. 

The group made many great memories and learned many lessons from the locals along this trip. While there was less backpacking, the cultural immersion was very novel to the students. A big thank you to Nancy for guiding us through this region, as her knowledge and charisma made this trip very special, and to all of our gracious hosts.

Sincerely,

Navarre and Ari

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