Small Boats at Peti Palena, Chile

Was it Mr Toad, in Wind and Willows who said, “There is nothing quite like messing about in boats on the river”? Here in a quite and sheltered part of the Palena River is a stretch of water quite literally littered with islands just waiting to be messed with and the abundance of kayaks carried by Atmosphere are the very best of boats to go exploring in.

We have again chosen a two man kayak as our mode of transport and set off with Ignacio as our guide and teacher and we hop from island to island closely watching the Rock Cormorants that either fishing or standing in the sun with their wings outstretched drying off. We beach our craft on a sandy island and explore the surroundings and then take to the water again and visit somewhere fresh.

Inside one pretty cove we encounter Jaimie a local fisherman who is cultivating mussels to sell at market.

Learning we are from the big yacht with the bright red helicopter Jaimie makes us welcome and invites us into his home built entirely using his own hands and local woods. He had fashioned the hanging shingles tile by tile hacking each one using his machete and the house is where he lives during the summer months. Inside a wood-burning stove supplies the heat and means of cooking his meals.

The kettle is on and he offers to take yerba maté with us which given the protocols involved is rather like being invited to take part in a Japanese tea ceremony. Boiling hot water is poured onto the green grass like leaves and stems which have been shredded to become powder like and taking care not to stir the mixture, it is passed around from person to person who each sip the mixture and pass it on. It is important to drink most of it and hand it back to the server who fills it with more hot water and hands it to the next person. It is really important not say thank you, to do so suggests that you do not want any more and can be taken to mean you do not like the way the maker has made the brew. When everyone has taken mate, the server drinks his own portion and the ceremony is complete.

Bidding farewell to Jaimie, we take to our kayaks and begin the long paddle back toAtmosphere. As we approach the helicopter flies in with the fishermen from Trebol its rotors clattering as it drops down onto the helideck.

Atmosphere is available for charter through Robert Shepherd at Edmiston