|The lake next to Pucón|
|We can see the mountains!|
We discovered that he is a super nice person, as he came to pick us up from the terminal in his own car, and also brought us back to the station on Sunday. Upon our arrival to the hostel, we settled into our respective rooms (James was the only guy in the group, so he got a room all to himself) and relaxed a little, and we also began to plan the rest of our weekend.
It was gray and rainy on Thursday when we woke, so we went on a walk to explore the city a little, taking in everything from the volcano alert system to the street musicians. Despite the overcast sky, it was amazing to see the misty mountains so close to the town, and I was struck by the sheer beauty of the area. Joined by four stray dogs who temporarily adopted us, we walked down to a huge lake bordered by a black-sand beach and just enjoyed the scenery. Afterwards, we traveled to Los Polzones, a cluster of termas, or natural outdoor hot springs, in the foothills of the Andes. The pools had a wide range of temperatures ranging from absolutely freezing to hot tub sans bubbles. Because it was drizzling and a little cool, the springs felt absolutely wonderful, and we had a blast testing them all out --- even the bone-chilling one.
|This was the really cold one - no one's in it!|
|The termas were right next to a river. Beautiful|
|Gail, fearless mountaineer|
First we had to essentially walk down the snowy slopes with claw-like contraptions strapped to our feet; this was particularly scary as you're walking down an icy, 60-degree slope and one slip can cause you to tumble hundreds of feet before stopping in a relatively flat portion; I'm sure I was not the only one fervently praying to God for safety during the descent. This was very slow going, and we were all excited when Patricia showed us a new way to descend: using little circular sleds, we could slide down the volcano, which was extremely fun (much cooler than Minneapolis Hill could ever be, my Yooper friends)! Upon returning to the lodge where we waited for the rest of the group, we discovered that our companion James was one of the two people from the group to reach the top of the volcano --- yay James! He took my camera up with him, so we've got photos as proof of his amazing feat, and we're very proud of him (:
|The view from the top of the volcano, courtesy of James|
|The volcano's top|
After this extreme excursion, we were all extremely sore and tired, and fully expected to relax for all of Saturday. Wrong! We ended up meandering though the touristy shops in Pucón during the morning, and in the afternoon we went with a young couple from Colorado to Cañi National Park, which features nature trails up the side of a mountain... which meant more hiking. Surprisingly, the hiking wasn't quite as terrible as I'd thought it was (I think it actually loosened up my sore muscles from the previous day's trek), but while James headed up the mountain with the Coloradans, we ladies found a beautiful view about a quarter of the way up the mountain and just stayed there, enjoying the spectacular surroundings. Once we'd all returned to Pucón and had eaten, we went out for a final night on the town with fellow foreigners. I will say that one fantastic part of Pucón was that since it's a tourist town attracting visitors from all over the world, we were not the only gringos in the area, and therefore we received less stares than what we usually get here in Chillán.
|We climbed that volcano!|
|At the termas!|
|The view from our vantage point in Cañi|