Published: May 8th 2009May 6th 2009
I’ve nipped away from Peru for 11 days while waiting for my tour to start from Lima. I flew down to Santiago in Chile looking for a change of scenery and excited to tick off an unexpected country.
When I packed for my little break I decided just to take a small rucksack and leave the large cumbersome one in Lima. I took all the essentials; sandals, shorts and t-shirts along with toiletries and undies. However, I found Chile is chilly. I had one micro fleece with me so my first day in the city was spent noseying around Plaza de Armas with its beautiful colonial buildings, pre-Columbian museum and cathedral while trying unsuccessfully to stay warm. I felt so chilled I went back to the hostel to thaw out mid afternoon. I did brave the cold for dinner in a café beside the hostel. I had a burrito while listening to an accordion player play for the customers’ outside with one eye on the Chilean version of ‘Vets in Practice’ on the tv. I retired early.
Day two in the city wasn’t much more successful on the sightseeing front. I went jumper and shoe shopping. I managed to
get both, navigated the Metro to the bus station and for my ticket to Pucon the next day. I’m sure Santiago has more to offer than one square and some shops so I’ll do a little more exploring before I get my return flight to Lima.
It was an 11 hour journey from Santiago to Pucon further south in Chile. The journey was motorway all the way, stopping occasionally at towns to pick up and drop off. Far off to the left I could see the start of the Andes; high hills emerging from the flat agricultural plains with the odd snow capped mountain perking my interest along the way. Leaving Santiago the road was flanked by vine yard after vine yard and the hills were dotted with tall cactus. Further on the plains turned to lush greenery with swathes of commercial pine tree forests lining the road. I arrived in Pucon after dark. The air was filled with the smell of wood burning stoves as I made the short walk to the hostel. I checked in to the small shared cabin, nipped to the nearest restaurant for dinner then fell fast asleep under the thick duvet on my
Pucon is a lovely little tourist town with the perfectly conical Villarrica Volcano looming on one side and the serene Villarrica Lake to the other. The small town centre has streets lined with classy restaurants and shops selling jewellery and jumpers. All the buildings are wood clad giving the place an air of a ski village and not a neon sign in sight. Even the hostel is a wood clad cabin with wood burning stove in the communal area which, very cosy.
I’ve spent two lazy days here. I didn’t opt to climb the volcano. The stories of how difficult it was from the other people staying at the hostel was enough o put me off. Five exhausting hours climbing at an incredibly steep angle didn’t seem like fun to a non-hiker like myself. Villarrica is one of Chile’s most active volcanoes. They have an early warning alarm system here in Pucon for imminent eruptions. I’d read the Lonely Planet (as usual) and I quote ‘if you hear the alarm…RUN!’ At lunch time on my first day the alarm began to wail. My heart skipped a beat. I was in the shower, what on earth was I
supposed to do? The alarm stopped and I figured (and hoped) that it was just a test. Last night the alarm began to wail at 1.30am. My stomach churned again. Surely they wouldn’t test at 1.30am? I was still chatting to my roommate and they said that they’d heard that sometimes if an accident has happened, even a car crash, they’ll sound the alarm. I have no idea why they do this and floated off to sleep thinking of the boy who cried wolf story.
There are more photos below