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November 12, 2004

Resorts in the Off-Season

Just a little more about Pucon the town and what I did today. Pucon reminds me of many of the small ski resort towns I've visited in Colorado and elsewhere in the States, with all the buildings made out of wood and looking rather ski-chalet like, and lots of outdoor-wear boutiques, souvenir shops, tour agencies, bars, and restaurants. The best part is that it really is still the off-season here, and the place is really mellow. My volcano guide said that in the summer (Jan.-Feb.), 200 people climb the volcano every day, but there were only two other groups out there the day we went--about a total of 30 people. All of the bars and restaurants are fairly empty--there are these huge cavernous bars with about 50 or more tables that are surely full in high season, but are completely deserted right now.

I'm still trying to figure out the rest of my trip south, and am still a little worried about time, but I met two other people who are also trying to get all the way south then back to Buenos Aires or Santiago in almost exactly the same amount of time, so that was reassuring.

The weather was warm and beautiful the first two days I was here, and I got really lucky in getting to climb the volcano right away, and go rafting too, because it's been raining on and off the last two days and I know a few people who are waiting around for the weather to improve. Yesterday, the rain gave me an excuse to sleep in, relax, do some research for the rest of my trip, shop for souvenirs, and mail a package home. But today, not wanting to miss out on another Pucon activity, I went bike-riding--yes, in the rain--with Greg and Sonja from England, who were on both my rafting and volcano trips.

It started raining right as we headed out, but we did have some periods when it hardly rained at all. Once we'd accepted that we were going to get really wet and really dirty from all the splattering mud and water, it was pretty fun. We first rode about 17 kilometers, mostly on a gravel road, to a waterfall that was really gushing and full and very pretty. We had a quick lunch there under a tree that kept us fairly dry, then continued on towards Lago Caburgua--another 6 kilometers or so. It's probably a good thing we didn't know the last 4 kilometers were pretty much straight uphill, because we were already tired, it was raining hard, and we probably would've taken the other road back to Pucon had we known. We finalyl made it to the lake, but we could hardly see anything--the lake was completely grey and shrouded in clouds and mist. There were a few people kayaking, and a few others who'd come out on bikes, and a few locals out on paddle boats who I think may have been fishing. But since there was nothing to see, and we had about 22 kilometers to ride back to Pucon, we only stayed about 15 minutes. Right as we headed out, we said something about how at least we couldn't get any wetter--boy were we wrong! Riding downhill at high speeds, into the driving rain, we were completely drenched in minutes. I'd somehow managed to keep my feet dry until this point, but in about 5 minutes they were totally soaked through (I was wearing my hiking shoes and socks). Thankfully, my waterproof jacket, put to the true test for the first time, did manage to keep me and my backpack (which I wore underneath) fairly dry.

It was a long, wet ride back to Pucon, but thankfully not too cold--I guess because we were working so hard. Luckily it was pretty flat, or I might not have made it! As we entered town, it started raining harder, and harder, and harder, and I kept riding faster, trying to get back to the agency as fast as I could. It was quite an adventure, and actually quite fun, despite the crazy conditions and the difficulty of some stretches of the ride. My thighs were already sore from the volcano, and now both they and my butt make it painful to walk! Tomorrow, I'll be on a bus for 6 hours on my way to Puerto Varas, and I hope it's not too bumpy--and that I'll be able to walk to my hostel when I get off the bus!

Posted by Amy on November 12, 2004 03:53 PM
Category: Chile
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