Caleta Tortel, the adventure that defined a prince

Caleta Tortel, the adventure that defined a prince
Caleta Tortel, the adventure that defined a prince

[#HistoriasDiarioSur] Learn how Prince William of the United Kingdom helped repair the famous Baker River town walkways with his own hands.

Caleta Tortel turns 69 this May 25 since its founding and from then until now it has transformed into a world-class tourist destination for the Aysén Region.

One of the aspects that attract the attention of the commune are its wooden walkways, structures that replace the traditional streets. These structures, worthy of the postcards of the cove, are periodically replaced or repaired, work in which the Prince of Wales was involved until a few years ago.

It was in 2000 that William, current heir to the throne of the United Kingdom, was part of the so-called Raleigh Expedition, an international volunteer experience for young people between 17 and 24 years old. The prince lived for two months in Caleta Tortel, dedicated to teaching English to the town’s girls and boys and repairing the town’s famous walkways, living like any other Patagonian, in a cabin with everything necessary to live and equipped with a kitchen. firewood.

Getting out of scandals

The royal family was not having its best moment in the year 2000. In 1997 William and his brother Harry lived the experience of losing their mother Princess Diana in an accident that was the subject of media coverage throughout the world.

The British crown was not popular in the eyes of the people and William, after graduating from the prestigious Eton school and before entering university, decided to take a gap year to, in his and his father’s words, “strengthen the character.” .

After completing a survival course in Belize, he joined the Raleigh expedition, where he served as a volunteer and the destination was Aysen’s Patagonia.

In deep Patagonia

William’s stay lasted a total of 10 weeks and he shared with 102 other young volunteers who came to work in Aysén. The group first passed through Coyhaique where, according to some, Prince William bought crafts at the fair in front of the Plaza de Armas.

Later the group continued to deep Patagonia, following the Baker River towards Caleta Tortel. There William carried out activities that ranged from kayaking in the sea to various camps on rocks or beaches, cooking, cleaning bathrooms, chopping firewood, kneading bread, teaching English to children from a rural school and even playing with them.

Despite this “freedom,” William was accompanied by security guards. Taking photos with him was not allowed and they took photos for the AP agency, almost like a concession between the British royal family and the press.

The prince got up at 6 AM, made a fire in the kitchen and dedicated himself to his activities. One of the tough jobs William had to do was repairing walkways and the member of the British royal family was seen carrying huge poles or hammering logs with a combo. Several of these images were broadcast by the AP agency where he was seen living without privileges and away from the royalties that a member of the royal family usually enjoys.

According to a report in the newspaper La Tercera, a worker from Tortel said that William helped repair 65 meters of walkways, 1.30 meters wide. “We worked stepping on mud and stones. He also carried wood, he carried planks and logs, which weighed between 60 and 80 kilos. I never heard him complain,” said this man. He also said it was common to see him speak correct Spanish and be “very friendly and talkative.”

Simple life

Another testimony about the prince’s life in Tortel was the one given to La Tercera by the former mayor of Tortel Bernardo López, who in those years served as a park ranger.

López said that William was at his house three times to be taught how to make kneaded bread and that it turned out very delicious.

The member of the British royal family also dedicated himself to trekking and researching the maritime life of the area. He had to travel in an inflatable boat to help Chilean and British scientists analyze the biodiversity of the place.

When William left Tortel, in a couple of weeks a young English woman who was not well known at all, her name was Kate Midleton, arrived at the same place.

Kate and William met in 2001. The prince enrolled at Saint Andrews University as an Art History student and coincided with what would become his current wife. In their daily coexistence, they realized that they lived through the same Raleigh expedition, but weeks apart, and perhaps Tortel served to create a romantic connection between them.

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