LUGARES MAGAZINE Nro. 40
Pags. 96 - 99
Text & Photos: Rossana Acquasanta
I discovered El Pangue, an unusual Chilean spot between Puyuhuapi and La Junta, several years ago. By the roadside, amongst the different shrubs and the thawing rivets there is a giant weed with a thick and thorny stem and with rounded leaves with jagged edges - it is the pangue.
The leaves or "nalcas" were used by the aboriginals to cover the curanto, a Mapuche Indian ritual which involves digging a hole and filling it with stones over which a fire is lit.
Once the stones are red hot they are spread over seafood, fish, meat and potatoes. This is then covered with a layer of nalcas, again covered with stones and allowed to cook. When the curanto is ready it is eaten as a festive meal.
The flowerbeds at the entrance and exit to the refuge are an obvious advertisement, not to be missed when speeding by on a 4x4. The rolling green landscape, trees, horses, chickens and ducks, the main house, a group of cabins and to the right beyond the lawn, the head of the lake. The sight is breathtaking. A narrow bridge to the left of the mouth of the Risopatrón Lake leads to the vast flank of the mountains, and beyond the lake as far as the eye can see, the mountain peaks appear to form a crown. All around the ancient "cohiues" cast their shade.
El Pangue has improved over the years. The number of cabins has increased as have the conditions. The rooms are big, comfortable and well equipped. Some cabins even have their own kitchen. The latest addition is the semi-covered heated swimming pool, changing rooms and sauna by the river.
Those in good shape can take a trekking expedition to the icefields.
Occasionally one may encounter a Darwin frog, tiny creatures with leaf shape backs and chequered bellies. Another common inhabitant is the "pudú", a small deer much coveted by the puma for food. Although they are there, pumas are rarely seen. A path, which follows the course of the Risopatrón River, invites visitors to discover botanical species throughout its three generous kilometres, cinnamon trees, the Mapuche totem tree, mosses, myrtles and many native species. After crossing several streams, the lagoon "El Encanto", with its wild geese and abundant trout, appears.
The meals at El Pangue are simple with a good supply of healthy natural products from the region. Home made bread and marmalades, home grown fruits and vegetables and local varieties of cheese. Delicious lamb and even the occasional trout.
The main house faces the Risopatrón Lake. The "home sweet home" atmosphere has been successfully achieved by the young owners of El Fatigue, Heidi Barentin and her husband Ramiro Calvo.
Those who seek resort-type entertainment will certainly not find it here. There is no TV, no shopping centres, beauty salons or jet-skis. There are however telephones, e-mail, and fax to keep in touch with the outside world.
Fly-fishing lovers will not be disappointed. Both the river and lake abound with brown and rainbow trout. There are also excursions to other fishing paradises in the area, such as Lake Roselot, the Figueroa river and the sea near the Puyuhuapi fjords, teeming with big salmon.