The 25 year old adventurer Charles Darwin passed Chiloë (and the Chonos) on his travels with the “Beagle”, in the southern summer of 1834-1835. He spent some time in November – February on Isla Grande, Lemuy and other islands. He found Chiloë a troublesome but fascinating place. It was terribly rainy, the forest impenetrable and impossible to clear by burning. The people were incredibly poor, although very friendly and helpful.
Charles visited many of the places we did. Strangely enough it is easy to recognize today’s Chiloë in his writings, for example the openness and friendliness to strangers: “Everyone on this road acts on a ‘hail fellow well met fashion’ and one may here enjoy the privilege, so rare in South America, of travelling without firearms.”
He was riding from Ancud via Castro and Chonchi to Cucao and tells of the dangerous roads. “Even where paths exist, they are scarcely passable from the soft and swampy state of the soil.” Some roads were made by logs but they were very wet and slippery. He wondered at the strange manners of women, very unlike that of fine English girls: “Our female companion, who was rather good-looking, belonged to one of the most respectable families in Castro: she rode, however, astride, and without shoes and stockings”.