Many unexpected, random things happen to me when I travel as a single woman. Seriously. I don’t know how or why but they just happen.
While wandering the streets of Puerto Varas in Chile in early 2013, I saw a family of 4 taking photos along the waterfront. I walked up to them and offered to take their family photo. What happened the rest of the day was like a fairy tale.
Originally my plan for the day was to explore the city of Puerto Varas and then hop onto a bus and travel to a nearby town called Frutillar – on my own. At the end of the day, I was very happy and grateful that nothing happened as planned.
This area of Chile is a mini Germany. The food, the architecture, all because of the fact that many of them are the descendents of German immigrants. I had found the land of apple strudel and chocolate, in South America. An early morning hike took me high up in Puerto Varas to Monte Calvario – it offers the 15 stations of the Cross, a high altar, giant trees, a view of the city and an epic view of Volcán Osorno and Lake Llanquihue.
It was a perfect day.
After visiting the gorgeous and historical Iglesia del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús, I headed back into town to find my way to Frutillar. As I wandered, I noticed a beautiful view of the lake, so I took a detour for some photos of the waterfront. That is when I met Ximena and her family.
As a person who travels around the world alone – I understand the challenges of finding and asking complete strangers to take my photos for me. (Keeping my fingers and toes crossed, hoping the photo turns out well.) So I make it a point to offer my help whenever I see the need. Especially when I see a group of people or a family who are trying to get the keepsake photo to capture the moment.
When I offered my assistance to Ximena and her family, we started to chat and when they realized I am exploring the city on my own. They offered to explore it together as they are visiting Puerto Varas as well. Then they mentioned that they are staying in Frutillar and would give me a ride there – I was so happy!
Ximena’s parents are so kind and generous, they insisted on treating me to a delicious lunch. I felt so fortunate to have met this Chilean family – our conversations were interesting and educational. I just wished I spoke better Spanish, luckily Ximena and her father spoke English.
After lunch, we headed to Frutillar. It is a very scenic town. Frutillar is famous for its annual music festival and 2013 happens to be the 45th anniversary. Ximena’s family had tickets for that night’s performance and her father was kind enough to offer to buy me a ticket. Sadly, when we arrived at the Teatro del Lago concert hall, the show was sold out. Nevertheless, I was grateful for their generosity. I spent the afternoon exploring Frutillar with Ximena and her sweet daughter.
Frutillar has many quaint gift shops, housed in traditional houses of German designs. There is also a stretch of beach with perfect view of the Osorno volacano. Many restaurants offer apple strudel and traditional German cuisine.
When it was time for me to head back to Puerto Varas, Ximena’s mother gave me a little care bag containing snacks and juice box for my bus ride home. It was such a thoughtful gesture, I was really touched and sad to say farewell. I simply could not have asked for a better way to spend the day.
Hopefully I’ll be able to visit Ximena and her family in the near future.
When I keep my heart open – everything is possible.