Pucón Chile: Beauty, Adventure, and Gringos Curados

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South America » Chile » Araucanía » Pucón
March 19th 2012
Published: April 30th 2012EDIT THIS ENTRY

The mother load.The mother load.The mother load.

Volcan Villarica
Night has fallen on this fresh Monday and I just got back from watching the sunset on the beach with Bri, Bre (Briana and Breanna), Mike, Brook, Eileen, Benjamin, and some French chick. Ooops...forgot her name! Ben wanted to snag some wine and watch the sunset on the beach to celebrate his birthday. Love this country!

Earlier this morning, me and the other ISA students got back from Pucón, which is 12 hours south of where I'm living. It was AMAZING!! We left from Viña del Mar on Thursday night at 9:00 p.m. and arrived in Pucón at 9:00 a.m. the next day. Pucón is a small pueblo surrounded by a lot of natural beauty. There are mountains, volcanoes, waterfalls, natural hot springs, rivers, lakes, national parks, ect. I've never seen anything like it! I know that Friday was my favorite tour day by far. Everything was so insanely beautiful, it felt like I was in a dream. When we first arrived at las Cabañas Rucas where we'd be staying, it looked like we had stepped into the Secret Garden. There were shady paths with tree branches sculpted into arches overhead. Each cabin was different but all with much charm.
Me and JuliaMe and JuliaMe and Julia

One of my cabin mates.
Mine looked like the Three Little Bears would live there! It was so cute! In the center area we had lawn chairs and a pool.

ISA hired two tour buses to haul us around Pucón and the surrounding area. I sat next to Ben who is way hilarious! We had each other rollin'! He's from Vermont and he surfs, skateboards, listens to folk music, and wears a pimpin' Robin Hood-looking hat. Haha! That was my first time hanging out with him for an extended amount of time. We talked really deeply. He's so real and I enjoyed hearing his take on life and the funny way he phrases things. I feel like I'm constantly meeting interesting people here. We're students from all over the United States with different backgrounds and personalities yet I find that most of us are real salt of the earth people. Maybe you have to be pretty "salt of the earth" to do what we are doing here. Embarking on an adventure, in a completely foreign county. Just maybe...

Anyway, after getting on the bus, first we stopped and saw the mother load--this huge volcano that some students planned to climb. The guides for that said that it's a 7 hour hike up and then a 4 hour slide down. It cost $90 as the discount price because it included a snow suit, an ice pick, and a bunch of other junk. Haha! Needless to say, I did not sign up for that. I would probably hike up for an hour and then keel over angrily. Nope. Not my cup of tea! :p I did sign up to do the cabalgatas (horseback riding for 3 hours) and canopy (zip-lining). Whoo hoo! Rafting was an option as well.

After creeping on the volcano we drove some more with the tour guide then stopped and saw this gorgeous waterfall. It was sick!...in a good way. Mist in the air, rainbow over the water, lush green vegetation. Everyone took tons of pictures like it was a photo shoot. After that, we hopped back on the bus and the guide took us to another area with a smaller waterfall and with pools of the most blue and crystal clear water I've ever seen. He explained to us that the rivers are drainage from a glacier, therefore super clean and drinkable. While we were there, a Chilean family started filming all of us students. Awkward! Then as we were leaving the dad asked me and Katie to take a picture with their girls and the baby. Popular! Haha! I guess it was too odd seeing a black and white person so he had to jump on the opportunity. It was super strange but they were sweet so we obliged. Next, we went and visited a real Mapuche's ruca. Mapuches are the Native Americans who were here before the Spanish came and took over. Although most Chileans have lost those roots, there are still some Mapuches who have stayed isolated and retained their heritage. The ruca is the name of their thatched huts. This cute old Mapuche lady dressed in custom garb invited us inside and told us the history of her people. It was amazing. Once everyone had had their turn in the ruca, the people served us a colonial style snack, at a long wooden table, with handmade benches, a checkered table cloth, and the whole bit. I felt like I was on Little House on the Prairie. Indeed, I was in a little house...on a prairie. Haha!

After leaving there, we went to my favorite
Light and ShadowsLight and ShadowsLight and Shadows

Benjamin and me.
place that I've seen so far. It was this majestic lake surrounded by lush, green, mountains. Todo era demasiado hermoso. From the sandy beach, it looked like two massive mounds rose up off in the distance in the water. It struck me and I didn't want to leave! Lastly, we went to las aguas termuras (hot springs)!! I had been looking forward to that part all day! We arrived and it was gorgeous! It was deep in a valley and we had to walk down these steps forever to reach the base. Once at the bottom, we all stripped down to our bathing suits, and jumped in! I loved it. There were 6 different hot baths, all ranging in temperature. I got into the hottest one first. Imagine the hottest bath of your life but without the water eventually cooling off. That's what it felt like! Some people couldn't handle the heat but I thought it felt great...until my arms and legs started going numb. Haha! Julia got scorched and from the waist down it looked like she was wearing pink long-johns! Me, Amber, and Kami and the guys all hopped out and ran and jumped in the cold glacier river. What an extreme! But it felt great.

After getting back to the cabins soppy wet, many of us changed clothes and decided it was time to go out! I shared my Three Little Bears cabin with Julia, Amy, Alicia, a different Stacy, and Bailey. They were chicks I hadn't hung out with yet and they were pretty crazy. As we were cooking dinner, Sam and Wilkes came over to keep us company. Wilkes used to be in the military, and I don't know much about Sam. Well, while we were sitting there talking, I noticed they were lookin' a little fuddled. Then I realized that I hadn't seen either of them on the tour earlier. Apparently they had stayed in town and drank all day. Daaaang! I asked Wilkes if he was drunk and he just laughed with slanted eyes and said no. But I noticed they were super antsy. Haha! They kept telling us, "Let's go out. Let's go out now. Let's go to a bar". And we were just like "Quit rushing us!" My cabin mates left and I went and hung out in another cabin, waiting for my girlfriends to get ready. Eventually Shay, Claire,
Colonial SnackColonial SnackColonial Snack

Little House on the Prarie style.
Lauren, Bri, and I met up with some other students at a bar a few blocks away. There were a LOT of us. Fifteen to be exact. And we were LOUD.

The legal drinking age here is 18 instead of 21 so we can all get into bars, no problem. During orientation, Lizette informed us that the alcohol content in the mixed drinks in Chile is MUCH higher than in the United States. While in the United States, they fill up about 20% of the glass with alcohol and the rest is the mix (a juice or something)...in Chile, about 70% is the alcohol and the rest is the mix. Therefore one of their drinks is equivalent to about 3 or ours. It's crucial! Lizette told us to be very careful with how much we drink because it's probable that if you drink a lot of Chilean tragos (drinks), you're going to be passed out in the street somewhere and that's not safe...for obvious reasons. She also told us that Chileans make fun of foreigners because we're infamous for getting epically drunk. They call us gringos curados. She told us to not encourage the stereotype!

We encouraged the
In my favorite place.In my favorite place.In my favorite place.

With Bailey and Alicia. Cabin mates.

When we first got there things were rowdy but fun. This was the biggest group that I'd gone out with since being here. The beer was flowing, the conversation was lively, it and it was nice to be out. Me and Shay split a teremoto (Chilean trago with creamy ice-cream submerged in rum) because we were determined to not be gringas curadas. Haha! Apparently no one else got the memo, or decided to ignore it. The latter I'm sure. After about an hour of being there, the volume rose to a mild scream as more and more people got sauced. We were loud to begin with, but then we got SUPER loud! It's good I didn't drink anymore because even with me splitting that drink with Shay and having only one fruity shot, I started to feel a little on tilt. I'm what they call economica (a light weight) so I knew to stop. We decided we'd better leave. Bailey, one of my cabin mates, and some other dude were about to come to blows over how much each should pay. Scary!

We had a mission: get these guys home before we cause a total scene! Too late. I looked over and Alicia (another one of my cabin mates) was chasing after some random Chilean guy because she thought he was Zak! Ahhh!! He started backing away looking quite afraid when Bri grabed Alicia and guided her towards the rest of the group. We all started walking back towards las cabanas. Problem--the intoxicated people far outnumbered the sober ones. It was like herding cattle! Every time we managed to get everyone moving towards the cabins someone would mosey off in the wrong direction and one of us would have to go get them. While Wilkes supported himself on me and Shay's shoulders, talking nonsense in our ears, Alicia hauled off and ran STRAIGHT INTO A WALL!!! Full throttle. I'm sorry but hahahaha! It was so bad but it was so funny! Poor girl ate brick. She was three-sheets-to-the-wind. I knew that one was going to hurt in the morning.

Finally, upon reaching the cabins, Julia and Amy helped put Bailey, Stacy, and Alicia into our cabin while me, Bri, and Shay tried to stick the boys in theirs. We failed. Wilkes and Josh kept trying to jump in the pool while Zak was spouting off nonsense
At the bar.At the bar.At the bar.

BEFORE chaos ensued!
about needing to make some Doritos. I was determined to not let them jump in the pool and drown but none of them are small guys so it was basically impossible. It was like 3 in the morning and they were yelling into the tranquil quietness of Las Cabanas Rucas. It's amazing Lizette or the other ISA directors didn't wake up and put the shank on those boys. All the more reasons to get them in their cabin and quickly! Me and Bri convinced them to go inside and "make some Doritos" and scurried to our respective cabins. Bailey and Alicia had been put to bed and it was just Stacy who was still up, looking lost. Not much to tackle. I hadn't been inside my cabin more than 2 minutes when I heard a knock at the door. It was good ol' Zak, eager to keep the party going. Bri was with him because he knocked on her door first and she didn't want him to wake up all of her roommates. All of a sudden we heard loud, masculine yells and two huge splashes! ¡Hijole! We ducked into the clearing where the pool was and I saw Jordan
Pool AreaPool AreaPool Area

Where it was goin' down. Or should I call it the daycare?
and Wilkes, standing in their boxers, shirtless, pants-less, and sopping wet. These guys! When did I turn into the babysitter?? Bri and I rustled them back into their cabin and made haste to ours before they got cranked up again. As I approached my cabin, Stacy was outside sitting cross-legged on the door mat. Really!? Oh my goodness! I couldn't help but shake my head and laugh.

Additional photos below
Photos: 61, Displayed: 30


Glacier RiverGlacier River
Glacier River

...and Ben's powerful fist. Haha!

Was actually a deep pool of water even thought it doesn't look like it.
Yep. Take it in.Yep. Take it in.
Yep. Take it in.

John and Liz

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