Pucon adventures and misadventures
Pucon Travel Blog› entry 10 of 19 › view all entries
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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