Continuing around Lake Llanquihue in Chile, just north of Puerto Montt, we stopped for lunch at a restaurant called Espantapájaros.
And the old concerns about being challenged for being barefoot in a restaurant arose again. But there was a big surprise waiting for me.
First, a reminder that we were circumnavigating Lake Llanquihue counter-clockwise. Here’s the map again.
The Rancho Espantapájaros is located along that small bay just a bit south of Puerto Octay. The area was settled by Germans in the 1850s, and it still has a very German feel to it. In fact, the Espantapájaros is a German restaurant.
“Espantapájaros” means “scarecrow” (though a literal translation would be “scarebirds”). Just so you know you’re in the right place, they have one out front.
We had their all-you-can-eat buffet, which was filled with all sorts of German goodies: wild boar, boar’s tongue (really good), sauerkraut, you name it. The deserts were very German, and very good.
Now, in the United States, a buffet can often be a barefooters nightmare. You just can’t sneak in and hide your feet under the table. So, as I said, old habits die hard. I was really rather concerned each time I got up for more (way too much more!) that somebody would say something.
On the other hand, every time I got up I got to walk barefooted on those wonderful old plank boards (check them out in the picture above).
But I needn’t have worried. This was Chile after all, not “the freest country on earth”.
Afterwards, we had a chance to head outdoors to eat dessert (and Alan enjoyed a cigar) on the patio, and check out the grounds. There was an open-air, two-story octagon gazebo (slightly visible in the second photograph) a bit of a ways from the restaurant, and that is where this picture, of the restaurant itself, it taken.
You can also see a trail that starts at that gazebo.
And here’s where the big surprise comes in. Take a look at one of the signs that was in the middle of the gazebo announcing the trail.
Yes, the Espantapájaros has a barefoot trail! My fears in the restaurant were not only unjustified, they were downright silly.
Atrévete a vivir una aventura diferente
(Dare to live a different adventure)
Sendero Pies descalzos
despierta tus sentidos
(wake up your senses)
There were actually four signs in the gazebo touting barefoot walking. Here’s the next one.
This one is on the sensory pleasures.
Siente y Vive la Naturaleza
(Feel and Live Nature)
El recorrer el sendero con todos los sentidos atentos permite vivir un sin número de gratas experiencias.
(Traversing the trail with all your senses at alert permits you to live an uncountable number of pleasant experiences.)
Los píes perciben la tibieza de la arena, la dureza de las piedras, la suavidad del musgo, lo refrescante del agua, la rigurosidad de los troncos, entre muchas otras sensaciones.
(Your feet perceive the compliance of the sand, the hardness of the stones, the softness of the moss, the refreshment of the water, the rigor of the logs, among many other sensations.)
Camina lento y logra el máxima de contacto de la planta del pie con el suelo.
(Walk slowly and achieve the maximum contact of your sole with the ground.)
Here’s the third sign.
In this one they cover the health benefits of barefooting.
Recorre el sendero con todos los sentidos atentos vivirás gratas experiencas
(Traversing the trail with all your senses on alert will let you live pleasant experiences)
Caminar con los pies descalzos sobre un suelo tratado con diferentes materiales, texturas y temperaturas, provoca un efecto de masaje en los pies, que beneficia el cuerpo y la mente.
(To walk barefooted over the ground composed of different materials, textures and temperatures, provides a massaging effect on the feet, that benefits the body and mind.)
Entre otros bondades, refuerza los músculos, las articulaciones y el sistem inmunológico, activa el sistema circulatoria, estimula los sentidos y ayuda a mejorar el equilibrio.
(Among other benefits, it strengthens your muscles, your joints and you immunological system, it activates your circulatory system, stimulates your senses and helps improve your balance.)
And the fourth sign.
This one describes the trail itself.
Caminar a pies descalzos se la forma más natural de masajear tus pies
(To walk barefooted is the most natural way to massage your feet)
Su recorrido se extiende a lo largo de aproximadeamenta 320 mts.
(Your walk extends for a length of about 1,000 feet.)
Su trazado include, pendientes, curvas, vistas hermosas y muchas sorpresas que háran de esta experiencia una entretenida aventura.
(Its design includes slopes, curves, beautiful views and many surprises that will make this experience an entertaining adventure.)
What an unexpected bonus to the trip. This is clearly a place that barefooters have to visit if they get anywhere near Chile (well, that and Machi, of course).
It’s clear that they’ve put a lot of thought into their trail, and a lot of effort.
Here’s a look at part of the trail along with some of its plants.
As you can see, they were redesigning the trail. Some of it was there, but a fair portion of it was under construction (or maybe refurbishment).
Here you can see one of the workers working on the rock section (in front) and the cobblestone section (farther back).
As a bit of a cartophile, I thought I’d see if I could find the place on Google satellite. Of course I could.
The restaurant is obvious, but you can also see the octagon-shaped gazebo where the trail starts. And of course the trail shows up easily.
And then finally, the view is spectacular (as I mentioned in Oh, So Yes to Osorno.) Here’s another picture of the Osorno Volcano across the lake, but this time I show it in relation to the restaurant.
Again, if you are in the area, and particularly if you are a barefooter, you need to stop in at the Rancho Espantapájaros.