After a few days in Santiago with Tom we left on a night bus 11 hours to the picturesque Pucón in the Lake District of Chile.
Pucon is a very popular destination because its situated on the black sand banks of an excellent huge lake with the towering Volcán Villarrica not far away. It is a resort town with huge mansion-like hotels and a nice casino that somehow came away with $10,000 (thats chilean pesos) of mine at 3:30 in the morning at the blackjack table, but its also a destination for adventure sports. We missed the summer rush by a few months and the town was nearly dead. Someone told us the town has a population 20,000 in the off-season but grows to 200,000 in the summer! Thats incredible, and quite believable with all the nice cottages and resort hotels around that all seem to be empty right now.
an image of Pucon
This place is quite a change from the poverty stricken pueblos of Ecuador and Peru. The weather here was great when we got to town but the following day and for the next two days we would have overcast and ugly skies prohibiting us from climbing the volcano. I was pretty down at that point because after a lazy time in Santiago I was quite ready to do something active. I walked around town on my own and Paul was getting sick so he slept a lot at the hospedaje.
The second day in Pucon, we walked around town a bit and finally were able to find camping fuel. Till now, its been pretty hard to find White Gas in Chile… only today did we figure out they call it Bencina Blanca here. We are planning to do some trekking here in the lake district if the weather improves.
I’m running short on time so im going to cut and paste some words from one of Paul’s mass emails that he’s been sending to his friends to save me time here at the internet cafe.
We did run into a couple of cute California girls, Jenny and Rebekah, whom we had met a month or so earlier on a rafting trip in Baños, Ecuador (the gringo trail is wide and long) and they introduced us to a couple of Australian dudes, Andy and Ando, who were really interesting and fun to hang with. It turned out to be an extremely cool time hanging with these folks as we came over after dinner and had a fiesta at their hospedaje.
We waxed poetic/philisophic/pentatonic?? late into the night, talking about lots of things over Aussie-rules Asshole, Kings, and maybe some other card games… just what we needed another night of parties, after our run in Santiago. We spent a couple of days there in Pucon with those four, drinking until late and having mad talks.
We had a lot of laughs and a few adventures with our new friends. We rented a car, (a high-powered Kia) to drive around in, because it was cheaper and more enjoyable to drive to the places we wanted to go to. So we went to a local hot springs one night, then came back and went to the bar, where things started getting interesting after a round of tequila (the liquor I love to hate…or is that hate to love?).
The hot springs was nice and i liked it so much i thought I would leave it a present, my old dirty and falling apart Patagonia baseball cap.
The next day we went hiking with the girls around in a nearby national park, where the leaves were changing and it was beautifully reminiscent of the Carolinian Appalachians. We were in a little bit of a rush to get back in time for our bus that afternoon, so Paul got to do some rally racing in the Kia along a washed out dirt road, no fatal casualties. Andy and Ando went on their own way back up north towards Santiago, and we continued on soutwards towards the town of Valdivia with Jenny and Rebekah.