Our Guia in Chile

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I’ve talked about unexpected kindnesses, and I’m going to do that again today. And interestingly enough, this one also took place during our visit to Chile.

One of the things we’ve found in traveling abroad is that foreign countries don’t have the abundance of coin operated, self serve laundromats. And often, to have the laundry done at a commercial shop may take longer than we will be in that town. We tend to stay away from home for long periods, but to stay in one town only a short period. Ah, the little problems. We need to plan ahead and decide that since we are planning on being in this town for five days, we can send the laundry out.

We had been in Chile for a couple of weeks and felt the need to do some laundry. And after checking around, we found a laundry (not self-serve) that would do the laundry for you and return it the next day. Great. My wife, Earlene, explained in her best Spanish, no planchada. No ironing. She tried again. No planchas. You don’t iron.

A woman had just walked into the store and she said to my wife, “You do not want your clothes ironed?”

My wife was only slight annoyed. She felt like her Spanish was good enough to get the idea across. But the woman was smiling and Earlene said, “Yes. I do not need any of this ironed.”

The woman spoke in Spanish to the employee behind the counter, then turned back to us. “My name is Maria and this is my business. I just wanted to make sure you got what you wanted.”

We talked for a few minutes, telling Maria where we were from, and answering a few of her questions. After a short while, Maria said, “Maybe I’ll be your guia tomorrow.”

We were surprised and I blurted out, “What does a guia cost for a day?”

“Nothing. It will be fun. I’ll show you around.”

A few minutes later, arrangements had been made as to where we would meet and what time. Then, she escorted us down a block to a restaurant she could recommend and spoke to the owner, asking him to take very good care of us.

The next morning, we met Maria, our guia, our guide. She showed us a number of places we would never have seen without her. She gave us a wealth of interesting facts about Chile and the area we were in. She took us to a lake where we boarded a boat which actually took us into Argentina. Of course, we bought her meals and boat ticket, etc. But she refused any other money. She took us to a great store where Earlene bought a jacket and shoes she still loves today.

It was a delightful day, made so much better by a unexpected kindness from a stranger. She seemed to enjoy guiding us around and giving us interesting information. For us, it was one of the highlights of our trip. What wonderful people strangers can be.

Leave a comment about your experiences with unexpected kindness from strangers.

James R. Callan,  2017




Tasmania – A Float Plane to the Interior

Before we go to Tasmania, here’s today’s paraprosdokian:  He who laughs last thinks slowest.

Quick, before I forget what I was going to say —

Before we stepped off the plane in Hobart, all we knew about Tasmania tasmanizwas that the Tasmanian Devil made its home there.

Tasmania is located about 150 miles across the Bass Strait from Melbourne, Australia. To its west is the Indian Ocean and to its east is the Pacific Ocean. It is about 225 miles from north to south and generally about 190 miles from east to west, and has a population of just over half a million.

The British settled it in 1803 and in the first 50 years, over 75,000 convicts were transported to Taz. One of the first places we visited was Port Arthur, just 35 miles from Hobart, and site of one of the most famous prisons in Australia.

floatplaneWe then headed into the interior, a thinly populated, but gorgeous area. (Another day, we’ll talk about Devils and mailboxes.) We made our way to Strahan on the west coast and made arrangements to take a float plane into the wilderness of the southwest part of Tasmania. Over one third of the entire island of Tasmania lies in reserves here, and there are no roads or settlements in this area.

Earlene and I and the pilot took off and circledtasmaniz-wilderness out over large fish farms in the Indian Ocean. Then we headed in-land. It is truly a pristine wilderness, with inspiring, untouched forests, and the white water Franklin River. After awhile, we were tracking another magnificent river, cutting between mist-covered mountains and dense rain-forest. We began to descend into the thousand-foot deep Gordon River Gorge and slowly settled down on the river.

tas-waterfallAs the pilot taxied over to the bank, a small dock came into view. He hopped out and tied the plane up and we deplaned. A short walk through the rain-forest took us to a magnificent waterfall. The only noise was the falling water. No boom-boxes, no cars, no people. Enchanting. Eventually, we walked back to the dock, got in the plane, and the pilot – standing on the dock, untied the plane. The swift current quickly began to sweep the plane away from the dock. What would we do if the pilot didn’t manage to get in before we drifted away from the dock? Earlene could fly the floatplane-on-riverplane, but could she take off from a rushing river? But, he managed to catch a strut, swing on to the pontoon and climb into the cockpit. Obviously, he’d done this before. It was a magical trip.

Our entire Tasmania visit was captivating.   If you get to Australia, allot ample time for Tasmania. We spent a week there, and would have enjoyed a month.tasmania-river


Traveling and Writing–a good Mix


This gallery contains 2 photos.

Today, Carole Brown talks about the benefits of travel to a writer, giving examples of how it has helped her in many books.  She and her husband live in SE Ohio, but they have traveled extensively throughout the U.S. and … Continue reading

Unplanned Kindness


Behind every great man is a woman – rolling her eyes.

Unplanned Kindness

Several years ago, we visited Chile. We stayed in Santiago and Vina del Mar for a couple of weeks, then headed south. We wanted to go as far as possible and still have roads back to Santiago.

The flight was in a small plane – one seat on each side of the aisle, maybesmall-plane-1 a sixteen passenger capacity. It delivered newspapers to every small town along the way, so it was up and down continually. Two young girls sat across from my wife and me. They were moving to Puerto Montt. Their father was already there and would meet them at the airport.

On final approach, the older girl, probably twelve, got sick. As the wheels touched down, she threw up. In the terminal, my wife took her to the restroom to help her clean up. The younger girl found her father. I went to rent a car.chile-map

Unplanned best describes our mode of travel. We fly into a city, rent a car, then look for a place to stay. No reservations. Though a bit risky, it always works out and quite often provides more interesting adventures than if we had planned things carefully.

I found Earlene talking with the father. I said there was only one car available and they wanted $250 per day. I was hesitant. The girls’ father said, “If you can wait until tomorrow, I can get you a much less expensive car. Where are you going?”

I said we had planned on going to Puerto Varas (about twenty miles away), but we could certainly stay here tonight.

“I’m going to Puerto Varas. I can take you.”

As we drove toward Puerto Varas, he asked, “Where do you have reservations?”

“We don’t have a reservation, but I’m sure we can find something when we get there,” I said.

“I can help you.”

Thirty minutes later, we were at a lovely lakeside B & B.

“Do you have plans for dinner,” he asked.

“No,” I said. “We’ll walk into the village and find a restaurant.”

“We’re going to Llanguihue for dinner. Why don’t you join us? I can pick you up in forty minutes.”

clake-clearAn hour later we’re in a beautiful tourist village on the shore of a crystal clear lake. He invited us to join his extended family for dinner. We didn’t want to intrude, so we found a different table. After dinner, we told him we were in no rush whatsoever but would wait outside near his car.

“Nonsense. There are very interesting shops along the shore. Wander through them. I’ll find you.”

We did find the shops and the surrounding area interesting. About thirty minutes later, he appeared behind us. As we drove back to our B&B, he gave us many interesting facts about Chile. We felt very fortunate to have joined this man and his daughters.

The next morning, during breakfast, the B&B owner entered and handed me a telephone. Who would be calling me in Chile? The caller wanted to bring a car over for us for our inspection. It a very nice car and only $80 USD per day. We took it.car-red

The father of the two girls went out of his way to be very friendly to a couple of foreigners he did not know. He could not have been more helpful if he had been a life-long friend.

Indeed, there are so many nice, kind, friendly people in the world, if only we are open to see them.

James R. Callan, 2016

Why not leave a comment and tell us about an Unplanned Kindness that happened to you.  It will make all of us feel better.  Thanks.


The Emerald Isle

At long last, the blog has been disinfected and virus free.  Welcome back.

We took off again this summer, this time to northern Europe. We started with Ireland.   It became clear why it is called the Emerald Island. Beautiful green fieldsireland green fields were everywhere. And probably the most beautiful flowers we’ve seen anywhere.   Of course, as one of the locals said, “If it rains every day, you can have green fields and beautiful flowers.” We did see a lot of rain – gentle rain – but a fine rain during some part of almost every day.


ireland - flowers


Of course we visited Callan, Ireland. Found some Callan graves in an old, old cemetery, (fortunately none was mine). We stayed in a lovely bed and breakfast and enjoyed walking the streets of Callan.



We were in Ireland, so we had to visit the Blarney Castle, which almost demands that one kiss the Blarney Stone. The stone was set into a tower of the castle a few years back – in 1446. The legend is that if you kiss the Blarney Stone, you will receive the gift of eloquence, or nowadays, the gift of gab.

The word blarney is often used to indicate a person is a flatterer, and not necessarily sincere. But Irishman John O’Conner Power said, “Blarney is something more than mere flattery. It is flattery sweetened by humor and flavored by wit.” That’s the essence of the Irish.

Kissing the Blarney Stone is not an easy thing to do. As my backBlarney stone-s was not in great shape that day (and some said I did not need to get any more gift of gab), I did not kiss the Blarney Stone. It is not a simple task. You must lie on your back, hanging out over the edge of the castle about four stories above the ground. (There are some bars to insure that you won’t fall to the ground.)

Still, we couldn’t visit the castle without one of us kissing the Blarney Stone. So, Earlene did. I’m sure I’ll never hear the end of that.

yeatsWe visited the graves of St. Patrick and W.B. Yeats. St. Patrick is credited with driving the snakes out of Ireland, and there seems to be no snakes there to this day. Yeats is not the most famous Irish author, but in the top few and a writer should not go to Ireland and fail to visit Yeats. We also had lunch with the son of famous Irish playwright/author John B. Keane. And naturally, one of my generation would visit the area where The Quiet Man was filmed.

ireland small townOther ireland - sheepmemories include lots of sheep, many fascinating small towns, beautiful countryside, hundreds of churches and cathedrals older than the U.S., and so much more. It was a great visit.


Ireland was only the start of our adventure, but I won’t bore you with more – today.

Anybody want to add their fond memories of the Emerald Island? Just leave a comment. And if you’d like to hear less, or more, about our northern Europe adventure, leave a comment “More” or “Less.”