Pucon- the adventure capital of Chile – Day 114 – 116 (24th-26th March)

The last three days have flashed passed Los Tres Amigos like Usain Bolt pumped up on adrenaline, so fast in fact that I can barely remember what we’ve done during the past 72 hours. However, although my memory does tend to a bit dodgy from time to time, I know for fact that in all honesty, we haven’t actually done that much. This is surprising, as not only do we expect a high level of adventuring and exploring from ourselves each and every day, but we have actually been staying in the dream town for both adventuring and exploring, in the insane settlement Pucon. From here, one can do kayaking, canyoning, sky diving, rafting, hiking, and the prized activity of the Volcan Villarica hike that takes involves whacking on a gas mask and hiking to the very top of an active volcano with lava bubbling in the crater, and yet we did none of this. We did have good reason though, as I can speak for all of us when I say we were all just completely wiped out form the last ten days of extreme travelling, and although we did intend to do the volcano hike, we were happy to spend three days monging out. This does mean I don’t have a great deal to write about, but each day fittingly seemed to have it’s own little short story that I think you might enjoy.

The first day was the busiest of the three, which is expected, as a lot of time and effort is consumed whenever three lads are required to travel anywhere, and it also tends to come with a significant amount of drama. Typically, we were up at the crack of dawn, shovelling down cereal like there’s was no tomorrow, and desperately squeezing in the stray garms that had somehow managed to hide themselves from our bags when we had originally tried to be prepared and pack the night before. I failed in this part of the morning, and so I concluded it was the right time to part ways with two items of clothing that would soon be rendered useless in the hot and sunny lands of Mexico. We were eventually fixed into our seats on the bus, and of course this meant only one thing for me, nap time, but in classic bus tradition, I was quickly engulfed in the most irritating of chaos, featuring the classic seat problems between the locals, which always seem to unfold in either the two seats in front of me, beside me, or behind me. As usual, this involved a lot of moment, and although I may sound like a grumpy old fart with an ancient grudge against fellow bus users, but I will always maintain my view that it is impossible to sleep when other humans around you are doing there thing, and this thing always seems to break through my personal space, and no one else’s, keeping me awake during the times that I would give up anything to be asleep. To add to my misery, and everyone else’s on the bus to be fair, there was a constant beeping noise that was repeating throughout the journey, and only paused for brief moments, and very sporadically. I could ignore it when listening to music, but every time I took out a headphone, the beeping appeared to start again, ticking over again and again, and eventually getting inside my head to the point that I couldn’t forget about it. The only remedy to this was to work out where it was coming from, and although I originally thought it might be coming form a device of mine, my high quality detective skills soon came in to play, and I quickly had the beeping pinned on a suspect, which turned out to be ther speedometer that the bus had installed, which for some unknown reason, was programmed to inform every passenger that the bus was exceeding 100 KPH every single time it did so. I was not a happy bunny.

The rest of the day was spent getting to know the town of Pucon and settling into our surroundings, the first of which was our hostel. The warm welcome from the hostel owner and her funny trousers set the trend for ther place, which was complete with a pool, rooms on a terrace with balconies, and showers that just refused to get warm. It was a very cool place. The town of Pucon itself lived up to our high expectations, as although we couldnt actually see the nearby volcano due to the shitty weather, the huge plaza de Armas with it’s million seats and huge Chilean flag made for a brilliant spectacle, despite the frightingly young age of kids smoking that we watched skip on by on their way home from primary school. This didn’t retract from the place though, as on our compulsory tour of the area, we found the artisanal market with the usual goods of key rings, clothes and bongs, some strange live music on the waterfront, and hundreds of restaurants that all offered the exact same food but at incredibly varying prices. Therefore, we just decided to cook our own food that evening, but that decision seriously came back to haunt us, and me in particular.

The first issue of the night was the absence, or so we thought, of supermarkets, which meant by the time we had scowered the shops for some dinner, we were left with nothing more than rice and some veg, and absolutely no motivation to get any other ingredients, or cook the ones we had. This called for some drastic motivation, so I braved the big city, and followed some directions to the nearest supermarket. Surprisingly it all went to plan, and although I accidentally ended up following an innocent civilian and scaring him so much he felt the need to run away, which was then followed by me running away from a hobo asking for money I honestly didn’t have, I returned home with the goods, which meant we could hopefully cook a meal worthy of the effort. However, this was of course easier said than done, as it always is, as that night we had managed to collide our dinner time with six or seven French girls that were also staying at the hostel. This caused a little competition in our group, which involved taking it turns to cook for the shortest amount of time possible in order to escape the packed kitchen and avoid any serious embarrassment in front of the shockingly attractive group of females. As you would except, I managed to lose said competition, and so I faced the punishment with a brave face, and battled through the cooking of the chorizos whilst the frenchies danced around me with their pots and pans. I can honestly say there is not worse experience possible for a man to face than when being imprisoned in a small room with multiple very attractive females, especially French girls, whilst desperately trying not to drop any bits of sausage out of a pan and embarrass yourself in the process, all whilst the girls in question are probably laughing at you in their incredible French language, and talking about how funny and stupid you look. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, it was not fun.

The next day was literally spent doing nothing but living, which included a few trips to town to retrieve food and alcohol, and not much else, but the entertainment of the day came from the evening, with the help from some drunk Chileans and a bottle of pisco. Due to my insistence on finishing a drink, I had stayed up a little later downstairs, slowly sipping away at my pisco and ginger ale that I really didn’t want, and praying the French girls didn’t arrive back and come and surround me with laughter. I was on the verge or retiring to bed when I one of the hostel owners friends, that’s a there for the BBQ, started talking to me about football, and thanks to the magic of the sport, I was soon being fed beers, lamb and the special local delicacy (wink wink), and being entertained by the various Chilean guests that had no idea who I was. It did get a little weird at times, mainly when one the gay friends of the owner started dancing in a very unorthodox way, and then followed this by jumping into the swimming pool, but I genuinely met some really nice people that spoke english, and once again the natives had so generously provided me with a night to remember.

As for the third day, the evening meal was really the only thing of note, as after a long search for the right venue, we settled on a quiet but cool looking restaurant that had a decent menu for a good price. We sat down, ordered our food, ate the complimentary sopaipilas, drunk the two beers that had come instead of three, and then sat and waited for our food whilst being entertained by the restaurants huge TV’s. It was only then that the waiter decided to break the news to us that the kitchen was almost completely broken, and that the only options we had was fish, and nothing else. This caused a few problems, as not only did we have to find a new place to eat, we had to do so, and order and eat and pay, all in an hour, as our night bus was due to leave very soon. Thankfully, the place opposite was on form, despite not having a valid alcohol license, but after a speedy jog back to the hostel to get our bags, during which our stomachs temporarily became washing machines, we made it to the bus on time and settled into our comfy seats for a casual ten hour bus journey through the spine of Chile.

It’s a difficult one for the winner of shoutout this time, as I have a few contenders on my mental shortlist. The very cool hostel and it’s lovely owner are certainly up there, as is Pucon itself, which I am defiantly going to return to for at least a week in order to complete every single activity available there. The plaza was also extraordinary, especially for place to people watch and let the world drift on by, but I think I’m going to give it to two people that I had a great time with at the Chilean BBQ. Not only did they love football, Onofre and the women that I can’t remember the name of but who I think was his girlfriend, had a great taste in music, including Queen and The Beatles, and insisted on gifting me beers, even when I began to insist that anymore would force me to vomit on every square centremeter of a two meter radius. That’s what I call true friends, and I they will never be forgotten. Respect.

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