Today I made the journey to the Valdivian Coastal Reserve. It was a beautiful one at that. We started off in Valdivia, drove to a small ferry, drove on the ferry, and then took a 15 minute ride across the Valdivian River. The skies were blue, the water was choppy, and colorful yellow boats dotted the shoreline. As we sailed along, we passed four old Spanish forts that use to protect the entrance of the river.
Once we made landfall the paved road turned to gravel. Small fishing communities prevailed for much of the time until the coast opened up to miles and miles of shoreline and hills thick with trees that quickly drop to an expanse of blue ocean. White waves were crashing into slabs of dark rock. Occasionally sheep or cattle would run across the roadway to continue their afternoon grazing. We stopped at one viewpoint to spend a few minutes looking for signs of blue whales. They had been spotted in the area. Unfortunately none were to be seen. What we did see were small fishing boats bobbing with the waves off in the far far distance. They looked lonely amongst such a grand scene.
I learned quite a bit about the 150,000 acre reserve during our trip. It had once been managed by a large timber company and now continues to be managed for timber, but in a sustainable way so that trees and the ecosystem that supports them can flourish together. Much of the property is covered by eucalyptus trees, which are not native, so an effort is underway to slowly replace the trees with native tree species. The timber operations here will hopefully raise money which will provide funding for the long term management and stewardship of the Reserve. It is very similar to an effort underway in Southwest Washington at Ellsworth Creek Preserve, where timber is being managed sustainably and is helping create an income for such a practice. Amazing!
The Reserve has a main administrative building and small cabins situated next to the mouth of a river. I am sharing a cabin with two other woman who are also participating in activities this week here. It is a lovely setting and I am looking forward to learning more, eating lots of seafood, and enjoying the people that live and work here.
Upon arriving, I also noticed something worth mentioning. Those who know me, know I am not a fan of buzzing and biting insects! I was warned ahead of time that horseflies would be a problem. However, the minute I stepped out of the truck and arrived at the Reserve, four were buzzing my head already. And it isn't simply a buzz by. They loop once, twice, three times, four times! Occasionally I see areas along the pathway were a dozen or so were swatted and lay there dead on the ground. Obviously a local passed by earlier and knows just how to handle these small annoyances. My thinking is, the horseflies like the neck area where it is nice and warm and they are just waiting to take a bite. Luckily, they are slow so I have a chance at getting them before they get me! There is also a roomer here, much known by the locals, that you can kill a horsefly, take off its head, and suck out its sweet juices. Not sure if the thought of that makes me sick or if it makes me smile? =)
Of course I was welcomed with a couple good tips already about how to handles these insects because, yes, I am that girl. It is my natural reaction to swat and run away or as others would say, freak out! But the tips were good. Wear long pants, don't swat because they like movement, don't wear black or red (colors they are attracted to), to avoid them go out for hikes and walks before 9 am and after 7 pm, and above all (perhaps my favorite tip among them), practice going to your place of Zen. I don't think that will be too hard here.