Pucon - Volcano, Mapuche People and Earthquakes!

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March 14th 2005
Published: March 14th 2005
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So let me just start off by saying what an amazing weekend....probably one of the best ever. It started off on Wednesday evening. 32 American students, including myself, got on a bus with a LOT of beer (i still dont like it but its cheap and im getting a lil used to it). We left at 9 30 and arrive in Pucon the following morning at around 9 am. Pucon is near the Argentina border in the Andes mountains. And let me just say..its Beautiful! We stayed at El Dorado which is a large piece of land with beautiful cabañas. I along with 6 friends stayed in one of them.
Thursday we spent the day at lakes and Hot Springs (we ran from hot spring to hot spring and in between jumping under the frigid water of the river!). We had an absolute blast and ended the day at a great restaurant with delicious steak and milanesas.
Friday we all got on a bus to travel to a small village where some of the native Mapuche people live. The Mapuche people were a native group that has lived where what is now known as Chile long before the European people ever arrived. They danced and sang for us. We then sat around a large fire and ate piñones which are soo tasty. We then ate some native foods for lunch which were superb before heading back to Pucon to have the afternoon for free. Friday nite we decided to have a bubble party--which consisted of beer and pisco, our jacuzzi and lots of bubbles. We had a fab time and I must say that I have never seen so many bubbles in my life...there were still a lot there in the morning. We didnt stay up late as Saturday was our free day and there were a bunch of excursions that we had all signed up for.
Saturday morning I woke up at 6am and was ready to go for 7. At 7am, I, along with 14 other students from my program were ready to start our excursion to the volcano- Volcan Villarrica. When we arrived at the base of the volcano, the weather was pretty bad and the guides said that we may not be able to trek up to the summit. After having paid 50 bucks each, you can be sure that whether it was a go or not it was going to be hard to stop 15 students from making the trek. We were split into 2 groups- I was with Erinn, Beth, Marc, Caroline, Kerry, and Emily. The first part consisted of a very steep hike which lasted almost 2 hours with only 1 short 10 minute break. At the end of this part of the hike we were amongst all those trying to reach the summit--around 50 or so. we ate a bit before putting on the clamp-ons on our boots and getting out our ice picks as the rest of the trek up to the summit would be on pure ice and snow as it is a glacier. this part of the trek took about 3 hours and was absolutely amazing. there was pure nothingness and after halfway through we were above the clouds...it was a bit scary too as the volcano is soo steep that if you fall they joke that you will land back in pucon and for that reason you have to hold onto your ice pick tight so that you cn break through the ice to stop your descent. when we finally reached the summit we were all in awe. we were tired but the site was amazing. we were above the clouds looking down into the mouth of the volcano. lava was spurting up. we walked around a bit but the sulfer, from the lave, in the air was so heavy that we all ended up gagging and quickly leaving after a few quick photos. We then started the descent down the volcano. What was supposed to have only taken about 2 hours or so-since its a lot easier to go down the hill instead of up-ended up taking about 4 or so since we were in the middle of what I would call an arctic storm. I couldn´t see someone if they were farther than 2 or 3 feet in front of me. It was a bit scary at times but also fun as we spent the way down ¨skiing¨ with the soles of our hiking boots as well as sledding--yes there are these sledding paths made for everyone to go down--i have never had soo much fun or been so afraid from sledding. You would go soo fast that you had to use your ice pick to stop yourself..and we were only sledding on our butts! We finally got down and were all sore, cold, wet and tired. But they greeted us in town with cold beers and ¨diplomas¨from having conquered the volcano.
We then headed back to the cabañas where we had an asado for dinner-for those of you who dont know an asado is like a barbeque but HUGE and sooo much tastier. We then hopped on a bus with beer and pisco for the trip back to viña.

Earthquakes-so earthquakes are very common here in Chile as the country is on top of where two tectonic plates meet. I was at the beach yesterday where we had two of them. I was fine but the Chileans were all running around packing up their stuff-I guess they do know best! Apparently we had a huge one two weeks ago at night but I was sound asleep and didn´t feel a thing. Also before this past tsunami in Asia, the largest tsunami before this took place here in Chile back in 1960. It was so large and devestating--it caused tsunamis in Hawaii (Hilo) and even as far as Japan.

This coming thursday-March 17th-monday a bunch of us are going to Mendoza, Argentina--wine capital of south america for the wine festival.
From April 1 until April 11 I will be in Peru (going to Machu Picchu) and Bolivia. So I will be celebrating my birthday there which Im totally stoked about!


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