Pucon adventures and misadventures

Pucon Travel Blog

 › entry 10 of 19 › view all entries
That huge volcano

Pucon was so much fun! The town is on the edge of a lake and at the foot of a volcano and close to several rivers, so it is known as the outdoor adventure tourism capital of the country. We are currently in early spring, so it was too cold for some of the activities, but I was able to go skiing down Volcán Villarica, one of the top 10 most active volcanoes in the world.  Chile is on the ring of fire, so they have over 150 volcanoes, about 10 percent of the world’s total. The tip of the volcano was always putting out puffs of smoke, and at night we could see the tip glowing. For about 40 dollars you could climb to the summit, peer in and see if the magma was bubbling today and then slide down, but I skipped out on that because it seemed like a lot of money and a lot of work to completely terrify me (you slide down using an ice pick to slow yourself down and make sure not to let your toe clips touch the ground so you don’t break your ankle.

Me, on that huge volcano.
How about not.)

So, to get there I had my initial encounter with Chile’s amazing bus system. I chose a reputable company but got the cheapest ticket for an overnight ride. I think a few more dollars would have gotten me even more leg room or a more recline-able seat, but I was mostly happy. The seats really are much more comfortable than the greyhound’s in the US.  The bus had a “flight attendant” who came by to make a register of our names and emergency contacts and then gave us a probably cootie filled but warm blanket and pillow. The front of the bus had a display that showed the speed of the bus at any given moment and occasionally displayed how long the bus driver had been driving continuously. My hostmom says the attendant sits in front with the driver to make sure he doesn’t go to sleep.

The burning casino
In all, I felt very safe. In the morning the attendant came by and offered us all cookies and terrible coffee.  I slept like a rock and saved a night’s room and board at the hostel, but my friends who came by the day said I missed out on amazing scenery. I don’t think I could survive a 11 hour bus ride if I wasn’t asleep the entire time though…

So at 8:30 AM I arrived in Pucon. We had several groups of AU students in town in various hostels, but I and two others were staying at one close to the bus terminal, Hosteria M@yra. My friends had gotten in the night before later than expected and almost found themselves locked out. Luckily they had cellphones and were able to call and wake up the lady to let them in.

The rubble of the casino
They were also surprised to find that instead of a room for the two girls and a room for the one boy, we had one itsy bitsy room where in order to stand up you had to have your luggage on the beds. In short, it was not what we expected. I stashed my luggage there, took a very cold shower (another gripe) and headed out to explore town. I rented a bike (for more than I paid for my room) and rode towards the huge plume of smoke visible from any spot in town. That morning a short circuit had started a fire in the main hotel in town, and the adjoining casino. It burned most of the day, despite having fire companies from all over attempting to put it out. It was very sad since it was one of the largest income producers in town and almost brand new. Pucon is going to be affected economically for years to come.
Same picture, without the creepy goggles.

I had my own economic misfortune soon afterwards, I was walking my rental bike through town and stopped to buy a lazy susan for my host mother (who was amused to know that we call them “floja susanas”) and was using only one hand to keep my bike balanced while I paid the wood carver, when a man came up behind me pushed me aside, grabbed my bike and rode off. By the time anyone realized what was going on he had turned the corner and disappeared. I chased him for a block or two but it was pretty hopeless. That evening, with my friends Issel and Sebastian (who are Puerto Rican and Chilean) helping to explain what happened, I was told by the owner of the hostel that the bike was worth 90,000 pesos (180 dollars) and I needed to pay her immediately.

Panoramic of the view from the lift. It doesn't show nearly how amazing it was.
My limited knowledge of bikes told me that the hunk of metal I had ridden all day was certainly not worth that much, and furthermore, since I had not signed a rental contract, there was no way for them to force me to pay that much. I was not able to bargain it down much though, I ended up paying 150 dollars and we made plans to leave the next day to stay at a hostel across town with some others from our program.

That ended up being a great move, because the other hostel was sweet and spacious and had a big kitchen area we could use. It was just perfect. The big couch area had a wood stove and a tv and it was a great time.

Later that afternoon, Issel, Sebastian and I rented a rowboat and headed out onto the lake.

Two seconds before this photo was taken, there was a puff of smoke at the top.
It was a great sunny day and the clouds around the volcano made for some pretty views.

The next day, I woke up early and went skiing at the volcano. It would have been fun if only because of the novelty of skiing down a volcano, but it also was pretty great snow, and the view was indescribable. To one side you could see the Andes and Argentina, to the other side the valley and huge lakes. It was amazing. By far the best day of skiing of my life, and because it was Chilean Independence day, there were very few people on the mountain. The lift guys all started to recognize me and called me La Gringita. That night after a shower and a quick nap in front of the fire, I went out with the group to a large party at a restaurant near the volcano.

The ziplining girls L-R Me, Gina, Emily, Jennifer, Jessica
When we first got there it seemed like just a family restaurant and we got a table and wondered if we had heard wrong, but after bit, the people started pouring in and by 1 am it was packed. We left around 3 am, but heard the next day that it really didn’t die down until about 8. I love the Chileans.

The next day I went ziplining with some girls from AU and another American student staying at our hostel who goes to school in Concepción (it turns out I had already been reading her travbuddy blog since I am using this website as an alternative travel guide. You can search for blogs by location, and hers popped up. Small world eh?) Ziplining was amazing, we went a total of about 3 km, flying through the air on wires attached to harnesses. So much fun, and only about 20 dollars. I highly recommend it.

That night we arranged to go to the hotsprings through our hostel, and it was the perfect way to spend our last night in town. It was misty and lightly raining and we walked down a bit to find a pool that didn’t have too many people in it so as not to bother anyone (we have a tendency to be the large annoying group of Americans, just because of our size) Each pool was lit slightly and the mist made it magical. The walk back to the bus (many cold wet stairs) was bordering on miserable, but it was entirely worth it.

The next day most of the people in the group went for a horseback ride, but I hung around the hostel and wrote postcards (send me your address if you want one, and I am sorry I have taken so long to mail the ones from San Pedro) and walked around the lake a bit. That evening we had a great 3 course meal with fresh baked rolls in town, with some amazing Chilean wine to help us fall asleep on the upcoming bus ride, and then headed back to Santiago. Somewhere along the way I picked up Issel’s cold and by the end of the bus ride was quite miserable. I spent the next couple days in bed and am there as I write this. My host mom has been amazing and showered me with tea and her favorite remedies. She was even psychic and made the most amazing Mexican themed dinner the other day. I don’t know how she knew how much I was missing Mexican food. It was great.

Hopefully this week I finally get my internship in order, I haven’t even had any interviews yet and am getting sort of antsy. We have a few weeks of school coming up and then we go to Brazil for a week with the program! Fun times. Sorry for the long post, but the sick girl got to writing and went a little overboard. Love you! Anna

Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
That huge volcano
That huge volcano
Me, on that huge volcano.
Me, on that huge volcano.
The burning casino
The burning casino
The rubble of the casino
The rubble of the casino
Same picture, without the creepy g…
Same picture, without the creepy …
Panoramic of the view from the lif…
Panoramic of the view from the li…
Two seconds before this photo was …
Two seconds before this photo was…
The ziplining girls
L-R Me, Gina,…
The ziplining girls L-R Me, Gina…
photo by: Biedjee