Quinchao is a small island located a short distance from the eastern shore of Chiloé Island. Quinchao is reached from Chiloé by a short ferry ride across the Dalcahue Channel. Quinchao is known for its old wooden churches, salmon farming, and dozens of varieties of potatoes.
I visited Quinchao as a day trip from Castro, the capital city of Chiloé. I booked my trip through a small tour company in Castro. There were six others travellers on the trip, all Chilean nationals exploring their home country. We were accompanied by a driver and a guide. Our guide, Humberto, was a jovial, super-enthusiastic Chilean born and raised in Castro. He loved his Chiloé archipelago. He also had a deep connection with nature, and was a wealth of information on all things Chilote. His love and passion for his island homeland was inspiring. He was an outstanding guide.
To get to Quinchao Island from Castro, we were taken by van to the port town of Dalcahue on Chiloé’s eastern shore. We spent a little time walking around Dalcahue, checking out the weekend market and snapping pictures of the church of Dalcahue, an impressive wooden structure built in the late 1800s. At the market I bought a couple of large, hand-carved wooden spoons made from a hard, red-colored wood that was said to be resistant to rot.
We then took a ferry from Dalcahue to Quinchao Island. The ferry ride was maybe 20 minutes. Once on Quinchao, we spent the rest of the day riding around in the van and checking out many different places on the little island. We stopped at various old wooden churches, one dating back to the 1730. We walked along a couple of beaches, learning about salmon farming and enjoying the fresh air which carried the smell of the sea. We stood on hilltop vistas, snapping pictures of Quinchao’s postcard-perfect shoreline. We ate together at a little restaurant, most opting to eat local seafood while I chose cazuela, a Chilean chicken soup with potatoes and vegetables. I had become addicted to cazuela, this staple of Chilean comfort foods. Not only was it delicious, but I was convinced that it had all manner of health benefits.
Late in the day, our little group having bonded nicely by then, we stood chatting together on a promontory overlooking the Gulf of Corcovado. The weather had become insanely perfect. An azure sky stretched out above the rich, blue hue of the gulf. The grasses, trees, and shrubs along the shoreline were bathed in the gentle but crisp sunlight of late afternoon. Humberto took out a large metal thermos from the van and offered us a choice of tea or coffee. We sat together holding our cups of hot beverages, letting the glory of the day soak deep within us. Everyone was smiling, and a palpable sense of peace and happiness settled over the group. We said nothing for a number of minutes, letting our feelings fill us up. In those moments of silence I had no thoughts of where my life had been or where it might go. In those moments of silence I allowed myself to simply and fully enjoy a sense of joy emanating from what I can only describe as the very essence of our being, and that is love.
When it was time to leave and head back to Castro, Humberto had to ask us three or four times to get back on the van. None of us wanted to the day to end.