Categories: Travel Stories

Day in the life: Jata and Karin in Chile

by ExperiencePlus! - Monday, November 9, 2020 Juan Pablo Mansilla - tour leader in Chile

Updates From People Around The World

We have been checking in with our travelers as well as our staff and tour leaders.  Here’s a little trip around the world to check in with Juan Pablo, our Chilean Tour Leader, and his family to see what they have been up to during these crazy months.

Juan Pablo (Jata) and Family

Where do you live? We live in Pid-pid, in the outskirts of Castro – on the Chiloé Archipelago in the region of Los Lagos, Chile

Now that we are months into this pandemic, what are the current regulations for where you live about going outside, how have they changed during this time?  The government follows a 5-step scale to manage its recommendations. Step 1 is quarantine, 2 transition, 3 preparation for opening, 4 initial opening and 5 total opening. Because we are an island and because of the sanitation “barrier” that was enacted for anyone coming in from the continent, we had very little contagion during the winter months – between June and August – compared to the rest of the country.  At the national level there were strict regulations that included 11:00 p.m. curfew, schools are closed and non-urgent health services and treatments are available while only essential shops are open. At the local level, restrictions have been more standard such as mask wearing and social distancing and of course we have turned to delivery services that are now part of daily life like in the rest of the world. Of the 10 municipalities that make up the archipelago, 9 remained in stage 3 from March to the beginning of October, at which time infections began to be registered within the island with greater frequency and today, Thursday, October 29, we went back to step 2. We believe that we could go into quarantine in a short time, not because of the large number of infections, but rather as a preventive measure due to the limited hospital capacity of the region.  Our family, including Karin, Diego, 10 and Amalia, 5 + our 4 dogs, decided to limit our trips abroad and social contact to the bare minimum since March, so our life has revolved much more around our house in the country.

What ‘normal’ activities have you been able to resume? We are used to having a “low” season starting in April or May because we are in a very seasonal destination and in fact we sort of hibernate until Spring in September. So being more at home was “normal” for us. We have kept homeschooling simple so that it doesn’t become a stress for the kids (or for us) and we have prioritized learning about things that are relevant to our life in the countryside and nature and above all highlighting the historical moments we are a part of this year – including the national plebiscite of October 25, where Chileans overwhelmingly voted to re-write our constitution. We figure it is important for our kids to understand what the society in which they live is like now and how lucky we are to live where we live and how to learn to be better people through this…. we know that math will not go anywhere so there is time for that!

Where was the first place you went when restrictions were eased?  Locally, we can’t wait to go out on a brief family kayak expedition camping across a lake in the south of the island, but when we can go where we want again, we will definitely finish scouting a tour we already started – heading down the Carretera Austral, which is also part of the route that as a local cycling tour operator we want to promote (hint hint!)

What are you most grateful for during this time? Basically for everything; because despite everything and I mean EVERYTHING (Covid-19 + social crisis in Chile + bankrupt tourism industry + closing of our office + no season) we are healthy and we lack nothing and we are together. We view the future optimistically and we know we will emerge from this crisis with a new perspective and understanding that this forced pause could be seen as a gift when you realize that you have everything that is really important, when a large number of people do not have it.

What have you been doing to pass the time?  We decided to use this imposed pause to do all those things that for lack of time had been postponed for years. This includes generic home repairs but most importantly a family project that we had been wanting to work on for years – especially having an agronomist in the family – build with our own hands from the ground up a greenhouse. Finally after years of dreaming about it, in September we were able to make it come to life. Using mostly recycled material – things that we had wanted to get rid of for a long time  but always thought “don’t throw it away because we can use it “…. years later, we used them!  The best thing about this project was doing it together with the children and really doing it from scratch and seeing how it came together. Another thing we are doing is teaching Amalia to ride a bicycle without support wheels so that the 4 of us can go out on a ride together. In terms of “work” we are putting together the last pieces for a new project to implement the first bike friendly route in Chiloé through a new program called D’Bici.

Are there any habits or past times from lockdown that you will keep as restrictions ease?  I imagine we probably won’t ever let someone take a nibble out of the birthday cake again.  And probably continuing the habit of disinfecting and cleaning that has been established won’t hurt either.

How many house projects did you complete while you were on lock down? We have re-decorated and re-arranged several rooms in the house including the kitchen. This was also because we moved our office into the house so we needed to make room. Mostly though we worked on projects in the garden. The greenhouse was just the beginning of a couple of other projects we could finally take advantage of since normally we aren’t home that much in the summer.

Any specific food or drink you have come to appreciate? We have established Saturday family game day and “picoteo” what we say in Chile referring to “tapas”. The menu varies each week but we plan the menu and then all 4 of us prepare the food and when you combine that with playing games it has become a very precious family tradition, especially for Diego & Amalia.

If you had one piece of advice for people right now what would it be?  People can believe the theory they want about the Coronavirus, but the reality is that there are people dying in large numbers because of it. So right now, respecting the rules like wearing masks and taking care of yourself while being respectful towards the care of others, is the only possible thing we can do until we have a cure or treatment – so please be responsible!

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