We took a days' detour from the Carretera Austral to visit a small, intriguing fishing village we had read about in our guide book. Caleta Tortel, which has only been accessible by road for the past 6 years turned out to be an interesting and worthwhile side trip. We arrived at mid-day to a somewhat ghost town feeling, right in the middle of siesta when everything is closed, which we always seem to do whenever we need to buy food, so we had a few hours to wander around the deserted village before we could run our errands and move along.
The town itself was situated on the side of a cliff and is a major exporter of lumber to Punta Arenas. They have done an excellent job of making use of their resources. The entire place was made out of wood and it reminded us very much of where we lived in California before we left on this trip. We called our home "The Treehouse" and it felt like we were wandering throughout an entire city of treehouses. The houses were all wood, built on stilts into the cliff. They had no lawns, only decks built around them and lush, wild bushes and ferns growing in all of the open spaces. There were no roads, only a complex network of wooden boardwalks zig-zagging up and down the hills and in between the buildings. The boats floating along the shoreline were all wood and even the playground was entirely made of wood. A wooden slide seemed a little bit sketchy to us and we were both too chicken to give it a try!