We arrived in Pucon around 6am to rainy and the coldest weather yet, which was around 60 degrees, terrible right? It also got much warmer during the day. After hunting down a taxi to take us to our Hostal where everyone was asleep except for some Swedish guy (who woke up the owners to let us in) we fell into bed and slept for the next 4 hours.
Our hostal had a bidete (butt washer)... and a comfy bed. All you need in life right? ;)
Once I started acting like a normal person again Luis agreed to take me out into the town ;)... We walked out of our hostel and froze (it was pitch black when we arrived), this is what we saw.
Gorgeous! Huge mountains surrounding us, lakes, a river, and a few volcanoes made up the area. As we started walking around the town I was having serious deja vu, the town of Pucon is extremely similar to the town of Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Both towns are meccas for adrenalin junkies and people who just like being outdoors. But the similarities didn't stop there, a small town with buildings in log cabin style, smell of campfires, everyone very friendly, people sharing advice and stories... It's a pretty amazing place and somewhere I felt completely comfortable in especially since most people there spoke english!
So while walking around we decided what to do for the next 4 days we were there. We signed up to go whitewater rafting the next day and then walked to Lago Villarrica (Lake Vee-ya-ree-ka), a huge lake that has black sand. Sadly it was cold and rainy so we just took a few pictures and then left.
The next day we walked around the artisan areas and small stores in the morning and then headed to the company we chose to go rafting with! Oh, p.s. before we went rafting we decided to get a GoPro Helmet Camera to take with us on the trip, we rented it for 20 bucks and got a free DVD afterwards. So rafting was a blast!! The only thing that sucked was we had to skip the two Class V rapids because the rain made them un-runnable. Too big and scary apparently. The guides outfitted us with wetsuits, jackets, and helmets. I was honestly expecting the water to be freezing and I don't know why but the water did not seem cold at all which was wonderful since it was another cloudy and rainy day.
I think one of the best parts about rafting was that even though the guides were speaking spanish, Luis didn't have to translate. In fact, when they were going over safety rules and tips I was telling Luis what they were saying because he didn't understand some of the words. Just by their actions (and past experience) I could tell what they were talking about. Great moment for me!
|One of our first rapids. You could tell our boat by Luis's red helmet with the camera!|
After rafting we returned the camera to a different company and decided (on a whim) to climb the volcano the next day, Volcano Villarrica 2,847 meters, 8,634 feet. We of course did not climb from sea level to top, we started at 7,280 feet after taking a bus and then a ski lift to a certain point. We were outfitted with hiking boots, snow pants, crampons, icepick, jacket, helmet, mittens, gas mask, and a back pack to stuff it all in. We had to bring 2 liters of water, lunch, and snacks as well. Oh, did I mention this volcano is active? And that on certain windy days you have to use your gas mask once you reach the top because the volcano is always spewing toxic smoke? Yeah, pretty cool :). So Luis and I first thought of this trip so we could avoid winter, well despite all our efforts we found ourselves in cold weather with snow included! But it was definitely worth it. We didn't expect Luis's ankle (that he broke back in August) to give us many problems but we wanted to be cautious so took it slower than the rest of the group. One guide stuck with us and we made it a little over 3 quarters of the way up before the weather got too bad and we had to turn around. We could see the top and we weren't very far from the crater! But we were only a little bummed we didn't make it to the crater on top, no one else made it up that day either. The views from where we were, were absolutely gorgeous! We could see 3 other volcanoes in the distance, 4 or 5 lakes, snow and greenery. Truly astounding sights!
behind us! Before the
clouds rolled in.
Also on a very sad note, we found out later that 2 people got hurt, one person died, and one other person got lost the same day we went up. Those people were with other companies than the one we went with. When the weather is unsafe usually the guides take everyone back down again but some groups decided to keep on going. And this is when accidents happen. The snow gets to be pure ice and the clouds make visibility almost impossible. So even though we didn't make it to the top we were very grateful to our guide who read the signs and took us back down before we were on the list of injured. All the guides went back up again that day and the next two days to try to find the person that was lost. By the time they found him he had died of assumed hypothermia. Amazingly, there had been no injuries or fatalities in the past 10 years up on the volcano so we felt very lucky but very sad for the families that lost someone that day. Please send your prayers and love to those families.
After a tough day of climbing we decided to take it easy the next day. We did a tour of the town of Pucon, we saw waterfalls, the rapids we were supposed to do on the river, and spent 2 hours in natural hot springs.
we were supposed to do. Caburgua
by 2 underwater rivers!
The hot springs, which didn't look so natural but were very nice on sore muscles!
|The view from the hot springs.|
Our horses personalities were opposite extremes. My horse was the fast one. It hated being behind anyone and always had to be in front. At one point it started to gallop, now, I've never been on a galloping horse before and our guide neglected to tell us how to sit on a galloping horse. So I'm trying to stop the horse, my water bottle went flying, sunglasses went in another direction, and I'm doing all I can to NOT fall off and break my pride. I ALMOST fell but luckily got the horse to stop, that or the horse decided to stop on its own since riding with a sack of potatoes (me) probably wasn't pleasant. The guide then says in Spanish, "She's excited to get home, good thing you didn't fall." That's it! Sheesh...
Now Luis's horse was the most stubborn and slow one of the bunch. He was always last in line and hardly listened to Luis. If the guide turned his head around Luis's horse would start trotting, but as soon as the guide looked away the horse immediately slowed down. Needless to say, Luis and I were hardly near each other during the 3 hour trip! Despite that it was truly one of the best horseback riding adventures I have ever done. And Luis said he's never going again unless we're in Chile. After getting back to the place we started we were provided with a Mapuche lunch. Native food which consisted of cheese and meat empanadas, mashed greenbean ball thingies, sopaipillas (soh-pie-pee-yas), and tortillas. All of it made over a fire in a hut where the guides mother lived. Food never tasted better!