>>>Where Robinson Crusoe was a Tourist

Where Robinson Crusoe was a Tourist

Pirates, treasure, prisoners, ex-patriots and colonists: all adventures recreated by Daniel Defoe. The spirit of his most iconic character, Robinson Crusoe, remains on this Chilean island, named after the castaway.
I
walked about on the shore, lifting up my hands; and my whole being wrapped up in the contemplation of my deliverance, reflecting upon all my comrades that were drowned, and that there should not be one soul saved but myself (….) I began to look round me, to see what kind of a place I was in, and what was next to be done.” This is Robinson Crusoe’s narrative on his arrival at this island, located 670 km west of Chile, and 700 km from Valparaiso, in the Pacific Ocean.
Scuba diving, surfing and kayaking are some of the sea activities available.
Photo: Germán Recabarren Bordones

Más Afuera and Más a Tierra

Spanish sailor Juan Fernández was seeking new routes between Peru and Chile, when he came across these islands. On his arrival, he divided them by location. Más Afuera (further out) is now called Alejandro Selkirk, while Más a Tierra (closer to land) is Robinson Crusoe. It is the latter of these that is home to the only stable, permanent settlement on the archipelago, San Juan Bautista.

Although its purpose today is one of tourism, the desert-island spirit endures. Just 1% of Chileans have visited Robinson Crusoe island. Its inhabitants, about 800 people, make their living from tourism and through lobster fishing. Travellers will not have to worry, as the castaway did, about “perishing of hunger, or being devoured by beasts”, since they catch more than enough to share.
The desolation the sailor felt is non-existent. The void is filled by cruise ships, like the Minerva, which, in a single day, brings 350 tourists, attracted by the spirit of the castaway. The different elements Defoe describes, like the aroma of the sea and the lush green, remain. Upon arrival–it is easiest to catch a small plane from Tobalaba, Pudahuel or Torquemada–visitors can take in the emotion of reliving the most literary of journeys. The first will be to assimilate the realities of the myth: the trees the castaway climbed on his first night on the island, fearful because he had no weapons, are still there, independent of the passage of time.
In addition to going to restaurants, you can enjoy a lobster on a chulapa, a boat equipped with a little kitchen.
Photo: Germán Recabarren Bordones
This island, Alejandro Selkirk and Santa Clara comprise the Juan Fernández Islands, a National Park and UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, since 1977. One essential stop is San Juan Bautista, home to Santa Bárbara Fort, which defended national sovereignty in the 18th century. Nearby is Patriotas cave, caverns where Chileans exiled by forces loyal to the Spanish crown were held during the reconquest.
62% of the flora is indigenous to the island.
Photo: Germán Recabarren Bordones
Robinson Crusoe engaged in domesticating sheep and building a log cabin, but today travellers are offered different activities: horse riding, bird watching and climbing up to the Selkirk viewpoint. You can sail from Cumberland Bay to the English Port, taking an archaeological tour and visiting excavations performed in search of treasure, fruit of the numerous acts of villainy on the Seven Seas, by the pirate Francis Drake. Finish up the tour at Lobería Tres Puntas, whose name makes reference to it being the place where scuba divers go to view hundreds of sea lions. The visibility is spectacular, and the temperature oscillates between 14 and 21°C.
If the traveller plays along and allows themselves to be carried away by the dreaminess and exoticism that saturate the novel, they will be able to find these resources on the island. It is the time to arm yourself with lyrical poetry and condense the sailor’s 28 years of adventure into three days. Subjectivity and imagination will let you become, like Crusoe, king of the island.
 

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