The volcano… it´s erupting!!
Well, after a night on the bus, I ended up in Pucón. The service on the bus was the best yet as they provided food, blankets, pillows, a movie, a bathroom, and the staff was very attentive. I arrived to Pucón relatively refreshed and took upon the task of trying to find a hospedaje (a house in which someone has a few rooms rented out. I got a taxi (and soon realized that the town was so small that I didn’t really need to) and headed to my first pick. All full. Next. Nope. Next. 24,000 pesos?! Hell no. Next.
The door was open to the lobby but no one was there. It was about 8AM and I said hello a few times, but to no avail. Finally, a lady came out, but said she didn’t know how much it would cost a night and said there would be space at 11AM (The señora was sleeping). Yeah…well, I need to know how much it will cost if I´m going to stick around and eventually stay. And with that, the “señora” came out and told me it was 4000 pesos. Fair enough. I´ll sleep on the couch until the room is ready.
I met some Israelis in the lobby (and soon realized that all 30 people staying here were Israeli and had no desire to talk to me – who isn’t Israeli) and got a feel for the place. You can take a day hike up to the top of the volcano for 60 bucks. Cool. And then my room was ready. I got all settled in, took a shower and headed out on the town to get something to eat at the supermarket. I did just that and before I knew it, I had rented a bike and was headed to the base of the volcano to get a good picture. I wasn’t going to climb it…I didn’t have time. With one day in Pucón, you aren’t left with many options – and a $7 dollar bike rental seemed like a good idea. It was only 15 kilometers there, but then I realized that it was all uphill and on a dirt road (and the cars don´t slow down for you, leaving you covered in dust). I also had these annoying beetles that would fly around my head the whole time (I guess they were attracted to my sweat). They would always maneuver around my hand swatting them so when I got fed up enough, I would stop and smack them with my helmet, which would keep them away for 5 minutes (then another one would find me fascinating and follow me).
I eventually gave up getting to the base of the volcano as I realized two K´s short would be just the same and sat down under a tree to contemplate the volcano and my plans for the next few days. I was at a loss. What to do? I was planning on taking a 4-day cruise from Puerto Montt to Puerto Natales ($275 bucks for the C-berth in a boat that is basically a freighter), but they hadn’t yet confirmed me so I didn’t think there would be space when I got there. But there could be, so I should get in the general area in case they confirm. Or I could take my time and head down to Puerto Natales (very southern and arctic Chile) and then just catch the boat back up. What to do, what to do.
I headed back down the hill – which was fun, since it was all down hill (and you get to go really fast). When I got back, I took a shower, changed my clothes and then went to take pictures. I am really excited about photography now. Pucón was a pretty cool place to take pictures and I took them until the sun went down, and then I had a beer while reading the paper, got some dinner (where I met an Italian guy traveling through South America) and then went back to my hostel.
But the lady that was to clean my clothes wasn’t there and had taken my clothes home with her (uhhh…okay). So I waited around while the lady that ran the place and her daughter tried to get a hold of her and then just went to bed and told them to wake me up when she arrived. At 12:30 (yeah, past midnight), she showed up, I paid her in a sleepy haze and went back to bed. I had to get up early for my trip to Valdivia (oh yeah, I had bought a ticket to Valdivia at the bus station), and I set my alarm system (drink a lot of water before going to bed so you get up early needing to go to the bathroom). I never hear my watch go off because I have to wear earplugs to get to sleep in hostels (lots of noise) and my water system seems to work pretty well.
I made it to the bus after a quick breakfast and hopped on. And away I went to Valdivia.