Day 21 and 22 A very different meaning to the word 'coffee'

Caramor - sailing around the world
Franco Ferrero / Kath Mcnulty
Mon 5 Sep 2016 12:05
After the amazing hospitality we received at the ferry ticket booking 'office', we thought we would try our luck elsewhere. I jest, but Franco and I did wonder whether if you knocked on any door in Edén you would be invited in.

The guidebook says "Hostel Edén at the end of the old pier, offers evening meals (need to book a few hours ahead) and a laundry service". Hostel Edén is the closest building to where Caramor is anchored. A cat perched uncomfortably at the top of a piling, staring longingly through the kitchen window. We disembarked at the back of the house and reached the front door at the same time as the cat. I knocked and a elderly gentleman invited us in. "Could we book a meal for tonight?" I asked. He laughed "no, sorry, there is no cook at the moment, it's winter, the Señora has gone north so we aren't really open". "But you will come in for a coffee?" he added.

Inside, a man was eating. He abandoned his meal and headed for the kitchen. Meanwhile the cat made itself comfortable on a large sofa. Coffee cups were brought with large spoons, knives and forks, followed by a bowl of shellfish soup. We chatted with our hosts José and Patricio, who had now returned to his lunch. Patricio is a builder and arrived two days ago from his home in Concepción, a town halfway between Valdivia and Santiago. We weren't sure if he was a guest or a friend. José served in the Navy and sailed extensively in the Pacific. He also visited Antarctica where he dug trenches with hand shovels in freezing conditions, not his happiest memory.

The two men cleared our soup bowls away and brought us plates with a large cutlet each and a mountain of mashed potato. It was delicious. You can imagine how embarrassed we were! "This is the most amazing coffee I have ever been served" I joked. José smiled, he understood that we hadn't expected to be dined. He explained that it is a tradition in his family, "there is always room at the table."

We left to explore Edén. We headed west along the boardwalk, past the school, the police station, the new jetty, a couple of small shops with not a lot for sale, a few houses until it came to an end and we turned around. We were back at the hostel ten minutes later just as Patricio was leaving. "You've explored that end, now you have the whole of the other side to look forward to," he grinned.

Past the primary healthcare centre and the fuel depot there are some steps which lead up to the large antenna at the top of the tiny peninsula. A boardwalk heads down the other side and joins the main walkway through the village just before Maria-José and Cucho's house (ticket office). The path comes to an end just three houses after theirs. For the rest of the day we were careful to avoid knocking on any doors.

This morning, over the radio, we listened to the captain of the Crux Australis announce an ETA of 11:30 at Edén. A few minutes later Maria-José rang Franco to confirm. Luckily he thought to ask her what the time was as Chile has already gone back to summer time and we hadn't realised. We would have missed the ferry!

We paddled Ding over to the ferry terminal. A lady watched us approach. "How sweet!" she exclaimed. Did she mean Franco, our small dinghy or the fact that we were paddling (as the Kaweshkar would have done in the old days)?

A small girl in pink came up to me "You are going around the world, can I come too?" she asked, already aware, at her tender age, of the limitations of living in a one boardwalk village. The Edén population is haemorrhaging because of the red tide. From 176 (70 women, 106 men) in 2002, it is now just over one hundred and the female proportion is even lower. The school had 27 pupils in 2002, it now has 7.

By the time Franco stepped onto the ferry, everyone knew we were from the sailing boat, that Franco had toothache and that I was staying behind. By the time it sailed, Franco was chatting away to a new friend and I had a lift offer from the dashing Navy officers, an invitation to coffee and overtures to go fishing. Maybe a week in Eden won't be so terrible after all.

P.S. The 'coffee' invitation consisted of chicken, roast taties and a mug of coffee.