25 February 2010

Bicicletas, Termas, etc.

Villarica with it´s sister city Pucon are small mountain communities based mainly around the various outdoor activites availiable to visitors. While here, I have taken full advantage of these said activities, and hesistate to leave even after almost a week.

We bussed in the evening of the 18th, with a fellow shipmate awaiting our arrival; the slow moving bars provided us with the opportunity to hear of her adventures around the area, while we filled her in on Pichilemu.

The next day saw terrible weather and amazing biking. We were determined to complete one of the self-guided bike tours our Swiss hostal patrons provided us with, and enjoyed rain-soaked, gravel roads beside misty, green cow pastures. I say "enjoy" because while the second downpour was a little frustrating, the rain really was part of the experience. We made it back to the hostal, and pan-fried some pork, baked some zuchini, and enjoyed some risotto made by the Italian we shared the bike ride with. The night saw a very low key walk around the town where we found a chill poolhall with creepy faceless paintings on the wall.

I soon said goodbye to all Melville Seapersons, and moved 30 minutes east to Pucon. I experienced Las Termas with the Italian, followed by a hike through a protected forest; we realized that this was the wrong order of things, yearning for the hotsprings as we enjoyed homemade banana ice cream from the lady at the forest entrance. That night was the first night I had without anyone from the boat, and the first night I cooked for myself. This cullinary tradition has since been and will continue to be repeated as groceries are excceedingly cheap and hostal kitchens are well provisioned with pots and pans. For the most part, it has been chicken with a small tomatoe salad (in season), and a starch such as mashed potatoes or cold pasta salad.

My remaining days in Pucon have been very relaxing and warm, sharing beers with fellow hostal members at the beach in the afternoon and more homemade dinner at night. One really nice morning, I rode a bike to a gorgeous set of waterfalls. Here, about four or five cascades fall into a single, deep, clear pool; the water temperature, however, prevented all but me from actually swimming. After my 20 second dip, I took a nap above the falls and continued on to have lunch beside a lake. The ride home was very pleasant, downhill the entire way. That night, more relaxing by the beach preceded a small dinner party at the hostal.

The next day, I moved on to Valdivia.

Things I Have Learned:
--A shoe can offer great protection to a bottle of wine, which could possibly burst in one´s backpack.

--Everywhere I go in Chile, there seems to be some sort of festival. Normally this is simply small street markets and music, but there has been fireworks, dangerously cliche carnaval rides, and a contest to see which of Pucon´s restaurants has a wait staff who can carry and serve wine with the most class (at least that is what I interpreted).

--Often, my pocket knife will be the sharpest knife in a hostal kitchen.

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