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Published: February 11th 2006
This is a photo from the top of the Volcano looking into the crater.
Yes, that´s right, I climbed a volcano. But let´s start at the beginning. I arrived in Pucon on Feb 7, straight off the night bus from Santiago. I looked around to try to find a cheap place than the one I had reserved and my first impression was that this was an unpaved, ugly town. I couldn´t have been more wrong. It is the most posh town I have seen anywhere, including at home. It reminds me of a cute little town in Maine with outlet shopping, everything is beautiful and expensive and snobby. No wonder my friend recommended it and lived here several months - suits him perfectly. Anyway, it is in a perfect location too - lakes all around, an active volcano, beautiful. I ended up finding a place in a ¨hostal¨AKA some lady´s house. I had a room to myself though, which had been sorely missed. I met Sonia, a Canadian, and eventually her friend Romina, a Chilean girl. Once settled, I cruised around town trying to get my bearings. It is small enough to walk around and expensive enough that I eventually decided to go to the grocery store for some bread, avocado and coke to make
This is the view from town.
my own lunch. On the way to the beach at the lake I met Scott, a Kiwi who has just begun a 5 month South American trip. He sat with me while I ate and assured me that although it was cold and cloudy that it was different that day before and that there actually was a volcano just beyond town that is always visible, except that day. Turns out he was right. We walked around for a while afterwards and found a suitable tour company to sign up with to climb Volcano Villarica the following day. Just like that. Had a kebab sandwich for dinner and bought some food for lunch the next day.
We met up early the next day at the tour company and got outfitted in waterproof clothes, big plastic boots, cramp-ons that we didn´t use, ice axes, the whole lot. Then we were off. Unfortunately when we got to the Volcano, the chair lift wasn´t going due to wind, so we had an extra hour of walking ahead of us. Let me just say this - I am out of shape. What was I thinking about climbing a volcano? Big, steep volcano and I
This where we had to walk to climb this thing, but we just went around this part.
just think no problem. Well, I was so slow and it was so painful. Ouch. I did eventually get up there, but I can´t even express how hard it was for me. I can walk all day, but put any uphill component in there and I just fall apart. It is very hard for me to breathe under such circumstances and that was no exception. Add my weird toe issue to that and you have an interesting day. But I did make it and it was amazing from the top. It was one of the best days for viewing in a while they said - the hole was large and we could see the lava bubbling and spraying up. The sound alone was impressive. It was just amazing. It was really windy and cold at the top but we stayed as long as we could to see more. The way down was quite easy for a while - we just slid down most of the way on our bums in the snow. Did I mention it is a snow covered volcano? We just slid down - it was crazy. We did have to walk in parts and that was difficult
Here is a view from the volcano of Pucon.
because my legs were tired by then and turning to jelly. It takes quite a bit of effort not to hurl yourself down a mountain. When we got back we ended up meeting up sitting at the lake to watch the sunset and have another sandwich. Then we had dinner and called it a night. It was almost 11pm by the time I got back to my hostal and I chatted with Sonia and Romina for an hour before showering and getting some sleep.
I slept until 11am then next day and it was wonderful. Met Scott at noon and had some lunch and then decided, after talking to the girls, to get a ride to Caburga, another nearby lake. It really was pretty and we sat around and swam for a couple hours, then we walked to Los Ojos del Caburga, some waterfall oasis that we never should have walked to - it was really really far - but super beautiful. Scott actually jumped off one of the rocks into the big freezing pool below and then we took off. We hitched a ride back to town and sat in the back of a clean pick-up doing so.
It was great. Got a sandwich dinner and tried to get some sleep before getting up early the next morning to go to the national park Huerquehue.
Huerquehue was beautiful with four lakes that we saw. Unfortunately we had to hike mostly uphill for hours to get to three of them. Lots of huffing and puffing later, a very patient Scott went swimming in two of the lakes while I swam in one and waded in another. I have such trouble getting in cold water, but it was beautiful. Both lakes were amazing. And they are surrounded by monkey puzzle trees, very cool looking. Afterwards we spent a little over an hour walking back. Could have been faster but I had to go slowly because of my weird toe that I kept slamming against my boot anyway. Came back to town and went out with the girls for dinner. At midnight they walked me back to the hostal - I was tired but the town was just getting busy. It stays light here until after 9m and all the stores are open all night it seems. Amazing.
Today Scott and I met up with the intention of going
Room with a view
View from the top of the volcano
to stay at a farm nearby and milk cows, but that went horribly awry. Two bus rides later and we had made it back to Pucon, and bought another ticket to a town we´ve never heard of but that is located between two other places we are interested in seeing, Valdivia and San Martin, Argentina. We´ll see if we can get tickets to a final destination tonight. Who knows? Keep your fingers crossed.
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