That’s Pablo Fierro, people.
Yeah… that was our reaction when we saw that one of the main attractions on the tourist map of Puerto Varas was the Museum of Pablo Fierro.
Suffice to say, seeing it did not rank very highly on our to-do list while we were there (especially not when there are so many amazing cafes and restaurants we could easily spend our days in). Yet, halfway though our walk back to town from La Gringa, we had to stop in our tracks when we saw this…
Yup… CARS IN A FRIGGIN’ HOUSE!
And because we were not looking for it, we’d somehow stumbled upon the Museo de Pablo Fierro… or as we came to find out… it’s more like Casa de Pablo Fierro.
We must have looked kinda ridiculous standing there with our mouths agape because a spindly old man who had been working on the rooftop shouted out to us “Do you want to come in?”
We don’t have a lot of rules when it comes to travelling, but one that we do have is that as far as possible, we try not to follow strangers into cars or dark houses…. Yet, somehow we figured a dark house with embedded cars should be an exception to the rule.
Our decision was cemented when we saw this sign on the door.
I don’t want to be overly dramatic, but to me, stepping into the Museum was like falling headfirst into the rabbit hole to Alice’s Wonderland.
We were guided around the house by the wiry tall man who had been working on the roof. Still covered in sawdust and with fresh splinters poking out of his fingers, Pablo decided to show us around his kingdom himself.
Pablo is an artist – and a damn good one at that.
The story goes that about 20 years ago, he saw this town house at the edge of Puerto Varas. He saw great potential within it and took it upon himself to refurbish the crumbling old house. He filled the house with his art pieces and interspersed these art works with antiques and collectibles from all over Chile.
He hasn’t stopped since.
The Museum sort of grew out of control from there. What started as a two-storey town house now has two additional wings, and Pablo is working on another extension to the place. I suppose in a way, the museum is Pablo’s pièce de résistance 20++ years in the making.
Curios and knick-knacks are scattered all over the house. However, instead of looking like the setting for an episode of Hoarders, there is a kind of order to the madness… Nothing really feels out of place and the whole place just looks… strangely fascinating – like cycling through a warped time machine on a unicycle.
Museo de Pablo Fierro is now regarded as a heritage site of Puerto Varas and a must-see attraction here.
As we were walking through the house, Fierro talked to us about many things. Between his English and our (very broken) Spanish, we sort of got the feeling that his life could have taken many paths. He is a relatively successful artist, but he is now the self-appointed curator of the museum.
He spends his time chatting with visitors and teaching art to the local kids. He devotes his energy and finds great joy in constantly expanding and improving the house.
It’s not a conventional life that Pablo has led so far. He might be viewed as eccentric by some, but it cannot be denied that he really poured his heart and soul into producing something that he loves.
I don’t think many of us can say the same.
Perhaps that’s the reason why we love the museum so much. We can literally feel the pride and love radiating from the walls of the place. I think he said it best when at one point during the tour, he thumped his chest and declared, “Estoy feliz. Feliz es muy importante”