My third and final week on Isla Tenglo was quite exciting – perhaps more than I really wanted.
First, I was lucky to spend two days working on an 82-foot Swan sailboat. It wasn’t exactly easy work. I learned an important lesson: the bigger the boat, the bigger (and heavier) the work. It took four of us, plus an electric winch, to haul the sails out of the storage unit and onto the yacht. The mast on this beauty was 120 feet tall, so you can imagine the amount of sail we were dealing with! We lifted the sails on deck, inserted battens, secured the foot, hooked on the halyards, pre-fed the bolt rope, and hoisted the sails during a test sail out the channel. Unfortunately this was all work, no play, so as soon as we hoisted to test the sails, we then furled them and returned to the marina. On our return, we bought 2.5 tons of diesel fuel which was another ordeal altogether. That must have been a big gas bill! (Perhaps this little excursion was my 15 minutes of fame. As I stood on deck, the locals would maneuver their motorboats alongside us to take a picture and maybe see if anyone famous was on this mega yacht. Nope, sorry, it's just DBT).
Second, on Wednesday night, as I was relaxing at home, I received an emergency “Presidential Alert” warning of tsunamis. Without cell phone, WIFI, or TV access, I had no idea what was going only. I just poured another glass of wine and hoped I was safe in Casa Roja, about 100 feet above sea level. The next morning I found out that there was a 8.3 earthquake in Santiago! Yikes. That’s not exactly the kind of excitement I was looking for. Amazingly, it sounded like casualties were a lot fewer than what you might expect. I learned through talking to people that Chile is very well prepared for earthquakes, structurally and socially. The tsunami alert worked very well from what I gather. (A 5.8 aftershock just hit again as I sit here in the Santiago airport at a restaurant typing this! Yet there is no panic. People just continue eating. One or two people grab hold of something, but that’s it. And they look like tourists anyway.)
Third, Friday was September 18, or “Dieciocho,” which is the day Chile celebrates its independence from Spain back in 1810. Official independence didn’t happen until April of 1818. I celebrated with Christian, Lali, and their family back on Isla Puluqui. For the third weekend in a row, we worked on their cottage, but also took time out for some great hikes, bonfires, and barbecues. This weekend, in particular, we were treated by some of Christian’s singing.
It was a great week. I spent Sunday night and Monday morning cleaning Casa Roja. I have mixed feelings about leaving. More on that in my next post …