Monday, 16 March 2015

Day 25 - Post Patagonia Trip - Santiago

In Hindsight..

I'm looking forward to getting back to New Zealand.  Even though I like Chile very much, this heat here is relentless. I don't like it one bit and it makes my stay here in Santiago all the more difficult. However, I don't think I could've picked better Couchsurfing hosts than Leo and Andrea to stay with for my last four days (in Santiago) of my 46 day long holiday.

I will definitely be back to Patagonia and Chile at some point, but next time I will take much more time to do my trip.  I'm thinking about doing another road trip in Patagonia and seeing the rest of South America, but I'll be shipping over my own 4x4 expedition camper van from New Zealand and doing it from autumn to winter where I start out in the south (Punta Arenas) and head north as the autumn begins to fade into the depths of winter.  I can forecast out that my next trip Will be anywhere from 9-12 months in length. Now that will be amazing beyond words!  

This trip to Patagonia was life-changing for me in so many ways; I can't even begin to tell anybody how changing it was for me.  The only I can say is that I experienced life in a part in the world where a time truly does standstill.  For example...

a) I drove through places where I was the only vehicle for an hour a hour at a time out on the road.

b) I experienced driving on rugged very dry corrugated mountain roads while behind the wheel of an ill-equipped rear-wheel drive van using all of my already very experienced mountain my driving experience. I pushed the vehicle beyond its limits and myself beyond. Only lady luck saved my a$$ during these hair-raising moments.   In fact, driving on some of these sections, took more concentration than piloting a landing aeroplane.  Yes I am also a pilot as well.  
c) I met countless wonderful and true globally adventurous people who have become my friends and will continue to be in contact with via e-mail, Skype, etc. One day I hope to see some of these people in New Zealand so I can show them around my wonderful country.
d) I experienced beautiful weather and of course very shitty weather along with the relentless Patagonian westerly gale winds....

e) I saw the most amazing mountain landscapes I will ever see in my life.

e) I drove the straightest, longest, and probably what will be the hottest roads I will ever drive in my life. Imagine driving a 115km straight stretch of high plateau desert highway road with the Andes far to the west and nothing, yes I mean NOTHING, to the east or ahead to the north.  And you only see one vehicle for the entire time!!   Its hard to grasp; it really is! 

f) For 22 of my 24 days on this solo roadtrip, it was very pleasant to feel time actually standing still.  

For all the above reasons, I am so very grateful to have been able to experience this solo Patagonia trip.  As a bonus, I got to experience Patagonia just after completing another lifelong dream of mine; this was my 11-day Antarctic adventure cruise to the Antarctic Peninsula.  

For anybody reading this blog, my advice to you is to "dream big and dare to fail" (Norman Vaughn is my lifelong hero!) Don't put off the fulfilling your dreams only to say things like "Yeah I'll do it sometime in the future.." (someday.. someday.. someday.. sort of talk).  As human beings, we don't know how long we will each be around. You might be live for 100 years, but then again your time maybe up 2 years from now... We really do not know - nobody does - so live life to the fullest and try not to accumulate cash wealth, but rather accumulate memories/life experiences, and not physical stuff.

I'm very proud to say that after completing my Antarctica trip as well as this Patagonia solo road trip, that my top 10 bucket list in life is actually complete.  For those who don't know me well, I am in my early to mid 40s, but feel more like 25 years old. Moving forward to my future, I'm really looking forward to writing up a new top 10 bucket list to complete during the second half of my life...

Safe travels to everybody!


Friday, 13 March 2015

Day 24 - 130 KMs, Petrobas Petrol Station, (120 KMs from Santiago), Chile (08:00) to Santiago, Chile (11:00)

Scariest Day of Driving

So I wake up in the back of my van in the back of a petrol station.  I slept quite well surprisingly.  I got the sense it was quite cool outside so I opened the van door to my left.  It was felt good.  I felt good.  The three lorries were still there beside me.  The drivers were still asleep.  Anyway I got out of the van and locked the doors.  I went inside the petrol station to use the bathroom, and after I bought a hot coffee as well as a pastry for breakfast.  Not the healthiest breakfast in the world, but you know what it filled my belly and wakes me up.  That's all that matters at this point because I have to drive into Santiago during the end of rush-hour traffic. 

Luxury Accommodation 120 KM from my Santiago final destination - LOL

What you have to understand is that I'm not used to driving in heavy traffic anymore.  This is going to be interesting, and probably chaotic.  I snapped a few photos of the van for this blog as well as some of the petrol station.  And got on my way northward towards Santiago.  At first when I left around 8 AM, traffic was light, sun was still low in the sky, and I was quite happy.  However all that changed very quickly in about 50 kilometers.   I passed a suburb of the Southern Santiago and it was obvious now I was in a major suburb with many people driving towards the big city for work.  Traffic became chaotic so I stopped doing all photography and video to concentrate on driving.   

The traffic was like a combination of the Dakar rally and Los Angeles rush hour traffic.  I wasn't on gravel roads or mud obviously, but the people who live and work in Santiago appear to drive like maniacs compared to what I'm used to.  They change lanes without signalling all the time like race car drivers do so on in Indianapolis 500 oval racecourse.

So I one point I was in the fast lane going about 125 km/h which is only 5 km/h above the limit.  I looked in my review mirror and saw a car coming up fast behind me. So I obviously got prepared to change lanes to give the speed demon behind me and open late for him to go fast.  I turned on my right turn signal on to indicate I was changing lanes for this guy but yet he started honking at me and flashing his high beams for me to get out of the way. What the fuck?!  So safely and as quickly as possible, I get out of his way.  I wasn't even out of my lane yet when he was already passing me in the same fucking lane!  The driver only had to wait probably 1.5 more seconds for me to be out of his way.  He can wait.  Anyway the sort of thing happened over and over again.  

About a half hour down the road, traffic came to a standstill. Obviously there had been an accident because this is a major highway.  Well that was an accident because as I slowly drove by the accident, I saw a car that looked very familiar.  What happened was a big lorrie / semi had rear-ended an older Pontiac sports car. I think it was an old Fiero?  Anyway the car was hit by the big truck, but the car was sideways though.  The big lorrie had hit the car on the right-hand side. Ouch!  Now I'm not an accident investigator, but it would appear to me that the driver of the sports car was at fault by driving recklessly.  More often than not, drivers of these large lorries are using very good drivers; Yes that means even here in Chile as well.  The accident was quite bad and I could hear ambulances coming from all directions.  I didn't really stop a look to see if the driver was dead or alive.  I just kept going...

I eventually made into the central part of Santiago with this chaos continuing.  My GPS told me to make the next right hand turn to offramp which went to a major street in the city.  Well when I got to the offramp on the map of the GPS that is, the street was not there?!?!  WTF!?  The highway as it would seem was on top of the main street that I could see below me, but there was no offramp to it. Oh shit.  So I get there; to the depot that is?  What you need to understand is that I was holding my smart phone in my hand, with the GPS driving software enabled, while driving a stick shift. This is very dangerous to do in rush hour traffic to say the least because the hand I was using to drive a stick shift, or the same hand I was holding my phone in.  My main flaw was that I was not carrying my suction cup mount for windscreen to hold my phone.

So I got off at the next exit to be in the city.  There were two lanes exiting at this point.  However there were two lanes on the right-hand side to approach one traffic light.  Well whatever city planner designed this, really has a bad sense of humour.  The problem I had is that I needed to go to the far right lane to turn right on the road. So I changed my tactic of driving from defensive to offensive style.

I literally had a bully my way to the right, honking at cars, and giving people dirty looks, including returning one middle finger gesture to another driver who gave me the middle finger because I was using my right turn signal and trying to be polite.  I wasn't too worried about getting shot, because people in Chile don't carry guns like people do in the United States.  I eventually got onto the road as I wanted to and drove straight for about 12 blocks.  I turned right on some main street, and then turn left onto the road I want to be on from the beginning.

I was home free to the depot!  I'm getting excited, because soon I won't have to drive this thing anymore.  However I had another problem to deal with.  The depot was on the left side of the road, and all the left turns off the road were for buses only. Shit!  So I kept driving past my need turn off in the hopes I could find a left-hand turn. No luck!  I ended up driving about 10 kilometers farther than planned.  So I decided to turn right at a streetlight, and then do a U-turn to get back onto the main street. From there I could turn left and go down the street for easy right-hand turn where the Wicked Vans depot was.

The streetlight eventually turned green and then I turned left.  I drove for about 10 km back to the street I wanted to turn on, and made it easy right-hand turn.  At first I couldn't find the Wicked Van Depot, but then I turned around to my right I saw a guy waving at me.  He open the secured fence, and motion for me to back up and come into the depot.  So I did and then when I parked the van where you want me to, I turn off the engine for the last time.  I made it, without killing myself or destroying the van. Wow!

The manager of the depot came over to me and shook my hand.  He said, "you must be John" with a smile speaking very good English. I replied, "yes sir, it's me, I made it, I'm alive and your man is on damaged" while I sort of gave in the smile and wink back.  I then proceeded to take all my stuff out of the van, laying bags on the asphalt in the shade.  With then both did an inspection of the van and I showed him all the extra stuff I'm leaving in the van for the next renter.  

Dropping off the van...FINALLY!
I left things like a jerrycan which I purchased, as well as good roadmaps that I purchased for both Chile and Argentina, and a flashlight that was left in the van prior to my departure in Punta Arenas.  Jorge, the friendly manager of the Santiago depot, was quite happy to see that.  After 5 quick minutes of inspection, he said your van is fine.  I advised him though that the left windshield washer sprayer was clogged with dust and that, but front wheel alignment needs to be done as it drifts away to the left.  

I also advised him this van should really not be rented for people who are going to drive through Patagonia. He asked me why I said that.  I replied, "this is a rear wheel drive (RWD) van, and even though it's relatively new, it doesn't have the power nor traction ability to handle the rugged roads on the Carretera Austral (Ruta 7 Chile).  I also advised him I have a lot of off road driving experience learned from Canada and Alaska.  He seemed to take my advice well, and would talk to the owner of the company. However, I don't expect him to take the car out of the fleet as long as it's making him money.  

My goodbye to the van...

I contacted Andrea, my Couchsurfing host, to tell her I was done my drive  or are shipped Iand at the depot.  She then called a friend of hers who's a taxidriver to come pick me up.  He arrived in about 20 minutes on time.  The drive to her flat about 9 minutes in traffic and cost me 5000 CLP.  I was tired but I was still washing with the driver was going, and I surely would've gotten lost trying to find their flat.  The driver was very friendly, and when we arrived Andrea asked him in Spanish if he could pick me up again on the 17th and drive me to the airport at about 9 PM.  He agreed, and then shook my hand saying, "Buenos tardes, muchas gracias! Hasta luego.".  This basically means, have a good afternoon, thank you and I'll see you later.

The rest the day I spent basically hanging out in Leo and Andrea's flat.  It was quite big, and spacious.  Andrea offered me a nice lunch of authentic Chilean food.  She asked me before serving me, "have you had any authentic Chilean food on your trip yet?".  I replied, "no I just had really crappy road trip food so far.".  She cooked for me a corn-type dish with homemade breaded chicken nuggets which was very good, but unfortunately I don't remember the name of the corn dish.   We hung out at their flat, and went for walk with her two dogs.  They are 2 cute wiener dogs. After a quick walk with her dogs, we came back to the flat in a stifling hot Santiago heat waited for her husband Leo to come home from work.

A welcome to Santiago lunch from Andrea

A welcome to Santiago lunch from Andrea

The tallest building in Santiago

Volcanic ash mud flows from the recent eruptions in Chile.  Yes this
is the city of Santiago hundreds of KMs away from the eruption zone.

Leo eventually arrived home from work and we hung out the rest the night.  We had a late dinner, talked a lot, and we all went to bed around 11 PM.  The next day was Saturday, so all five of us (this includes the two dogs) were going to go walk around town tomorrow. Leo and Andrea are going to play my tour guide for a day.  How exciting!  I'm looking forward to it and the rest of my stay with Leo and Andrew.  I'm so very glad that I'm out of the van. Here is a picture of myself with my Couchsurfing hosts in Santiago:

Myself, Leo and Andrea walking around Santiago
Daily Summary:

About two weeks ago I thought I experienced then for what I thought was going to be my scariest day of driving while on this trip.  I was wrong.  This last day of driving on this trip has turned out to be the scariest possible because I was dealing with variables far out of my control. It was still very hot, but now I was dealing with maniac drivers who didn't really seem to care much about life. 
In retrospect, I'd rather deal with jagged mountain roads versus dealing with this shitty traffic in the city.  

I don't miss driving whatsoever and when I get home to New Zealand, I'm really going to try to avoid driving whenever possible at least for the first one month of being home. All in all I drove a total of about 5150 km on the trip.  What made it the most difficult was that the van did not have air-conditioning and it was not all-wheel-drive (AWD) or four-wheel-drive.   I think that the lack of air-conditioning, really played havoc on my sanity because when you have to seal up the van when driving on a ultra hot dusty road for many hours on end, it would be really nice to have air-conditioning.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Day 23 - 690 KMs, Pucon, Chile (09:00) to Petrobas Petrol Station, (120 KMs from Santiago), Chile (21:00)

One Long "Hell" of a Day Today

I woke up around 8 AM feeling pretty good.  My bags are all packed and stuff,  so I just woke up brush my teeth, and went down to get a breakfast.  I chatted with a few other guests, using Google translate of course, and wave goodbye tell them I had to go upstairs and get ready to leave.  However I never got to say goodbye to the owners of the backpacker because they usually slept until about 10 AM.  Yes 10 a.m.!   The couple that own the accommodation are young in their early 30s and always, clearing throat, touching and holding one another. It's my fun guess that they're up late every night having lots of sex which explains why they got up so late. Laughing here, it's all good I'm happy for them and if I ever come back to this town I will definitely stay here.

Not sure if you can see them, but from Ruta 5 you can
volcanos in the distance... 

I went downstairs put my three bags in the back of the van, visually and physically check the tires to see if they're okay because driving up hot highway for eight hours is much different than what I was doing driving on gravel roads look at slower speeds. Everything is all good so I started the engine and got going. However when I backed the van up, I paused for a brief second before I went forward.  For some strange reason– it felt like I was going to work. Anyway I left town and on the way out I stopped at a petrol station to fill up the tank.  This is probably going to be the first of second petrol stops for the day.  

Unlike how I got lost when I came to this nice town, the way out of town to Ruta 5 was easy.  There were signs everywhere pointing me to Santiago and Ruta 5 Norte. For the life of me I don't understand why the signs are so good leaving town, but not coming to the town?  WTF is that all about!

I quickly got to Ruta 5 after boring stretch of about 45 minutes.  I don't think I should call that boring because what I was about to get, seven hours of flat open highway is very very boring comparative to that initial 45 minute stretch.  The owner of the hostal back in Pucon gave me advice to drive to Santiago nighttime.  I ignored that advice which I'm realising now is a major mistake.  I mean I've driven long distances before on highways, but this drive was horrific. There will hardly any cars on the road and the reason why is because it was so fucking hot.  The only other vehicles on the road seemed to be road train lorries.   

Boring, very hot stretches of Ruta 5 Norte towards Santiago
After about 3 and 1/2 hours of miserable hot driving, I stopped to get petrol.  It was a Petrobas station.  There are very common in Chile.   The best part about these is that they are well-equipped for the café inside and air conditioning!!  Yes air-conditioning and free Wi-Fi.  I got a meal deal for about equivalent of NZ$14, and I bought a Starbucks Frapuccino in a bottle.  I took off the plastic seal from the bottle, but did not turn the knob to open the coffee itself.  I started to shake the coffee so I can mix it up better, and suddenly the cap came off and I ended up getting a coffee shower with about 10 people watching me from the other side of the café.   This was very embarrassing indeed.  The server came over to help me and gave me some tissues to cleanup.  So I finished my meal which was now partially covered in coffee. Yum!  Afterwards I went to the bathroom to wash the stains off my orange cargo pants. 

Dodgy loads on Ruta 5 make driving this highway a
dangerous task...
After doing that I came out of the bathroom with my pants all wet like I just pissed my pants.  Ouch more embarrassment!  However thankfully because it was so hot and sunny, it took about five minutes in the sun to dry my pants. That's very scary actually.  

So I kept going on northbound towards Santiago.   I saw some strange vehicles with strange contraptions such as a horse being carried at 120 km/h, but the carriage had no top on it.  The care to self look very dodgy as itlooked like it was about to fall over while bouncing around all over the highway. I actually felt sorry for the horse inside the carriage. And there were other various strange vehicles I saw on the highway.  These vehicles will never pass inspection back home in New Zealand as they would be deemed not roadworthy.  Welcome to Chile!

Open air horse carriages at 120 KM/h ?? Dodgy looking eh?
The sun was getting lower in the sky but it was still very hot.  I was at about 500 km at this point for the day.  I was really exhausted.  So I pulled into another petrol station, not for petrol, button I hope to find a tree to sit in the shade for a while.  I was lucky and found a little small petrol station with a few trees.  I parked my little white van under the tree.  I roll the windows down one third, got out to go to the bathroom.  I splash cold water on my face, then went into the little convenient store by the largest PowerAid drink I could find. They were quite small in there so I bought two of them.  Before even paying for my drinks I drank one of them because I was so thirsty.

I eventually got back on the road about 20 mins later and headed north again.  At this point I was about since 650 km for the day and boy I was fucking tired.  There weren't going to be any nice campsites by lakes tonight to camp beside.  This was going to be a nasty night.  I drove a little longer and pulled into a petrol station.   it was a very big, in busy Petrobas station with cars and lorries everywhere.  I didn't really see anywhere to park the car with any privacy at all.  So because it was dinnertime anyway, I went inside and got another nasty meal for the day.  However this time I did not get a coffee so I couldn't spell it on myself.   LOL!  The meal tasted okay but nothing special.   After the meal I want to the bathroom and then move my van towards the back of the station.  It just wasn't a good place to camp out. The little voice my head said not to camp there.

Unsafe loads of 'what the fuck is that!?' on Ruta 5 Norte
while driving at 115 KM/hr.  Good grief! 
So I using Google search on my phone to find a campsite nearby. According to the map there was one about 10 km away up the highway or so. So I follow the directions on my GPS phone application, and I am not getting lost, well sort of, in a town that was complete under construction.  The place with a campsite was supposed to be, was completely blocked off with construction vehicles and signs.  Oh shit!  It was dark now and I was really tired; no I mean like really tired to the point where I didn't really care where I camped out.  I sent a text to my couch surfing hosts in Santiago in Andrea row me back advising me not to camp anywhere else except in back of a petrol station.  I sent this text to her at the point I was camping in the dark along and on-ramp to the highway.  I told her where I was and she said that was a bad idea.  So tired as I was, I took her advice and kept driving north.  

One of the many toll stops on Ruta 5. I was not prepared for
this, but am glad I had the cash to pay these though. 
At 690 km, I saw small Petrobas petrol station on the side of the road.  So I pulled into the back of the petrol station where it was dark.  There was no one there, and unless you went back there you never know I was there.  Perfect!  I backed the van in so the front of the van was facing the highway and turned off the engine. I'm done!  My triple odometer reads 690 km. Damn what a fucking long hot day!

So I put myself in shutdown mode, prep the van for sleeping, and then started to go to bed.  I forgot to pee so I got out of the van and took a piss on the dirt.  Yes it's rather irresponsible but I was too tired to walk to the petrol station 50m away to use the bathroom.  I was really that tired! 

My trip odometer at the end of the long hot day... zzzzz
690 KM.  I'd rather go the dentist than do that again.
As I was about to go into a deep sleep, I heard a few trucks pulling over the next 10 minutes.  It seems that I have some guests parking beside me.  These are obviously truck drivers looking for a place to sleep.  I wasn't worried.  I quickly fell asleep in no time.

Daily Summary:

I did not enjoy today whatsoever. I even spilled spilled coffee on myself in public. No I take that back, I showered myself with

coffee. Dammit!  Long hot dry day of driving. The only good news is that I was soon bringing my camper van to the depot in Santiago so I didn't have to drive it much longer.  Surprisingly sleeping in back of a petrol station enabled me to get a good nights sleep without being disturbed.  One more day, but I have to deal now with Santiago traffic. I wonder what that's can it be like?  I'm afraid to know... 

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Day 22 - 0 KMs, Pucon, Chile - Local Exploration day 2

Local Pucon - exploring day #2

Okay okay a number two and relaxing here in Pucon, Chile.   I woke up today around 8 AM.  I got a good nights sleep and I feel good.  I mean I feel really good. I went downstairs to have breakfast as soon as they opened the kitchen and the maid was ready to serve breakfast.  This woman works a long day.  She must get up around 6 AM, and go to bed at like 10 AM.  In every and all day she's wearing a maid outfit.  I took on my cell phone, open up Google translate, and thank her in English to Spanish for doing my laundry yesterday.  I thank you very much actually.  Very generous helpful people.  Latina/Latino people are very friendly indeed. Anyway I ate my breakfast like yesterday and thought about what I had to do today.  You have a lot of a lot to do actually went tomorrow you have to drive about 700 kilometers North towards Santiago.

Anyway so I ate my breakfast while talking to this Latina maid using my Google translate.  She use my phone to speak Spanish into it to translate it for me.  It works pretty well, but it still has some problems.  I'm thinking though within 10 years this whole language translation software will be really good, but it won't replace the need to learn foreign languages for people.  After all, What if you don't have batteries for your gadgets to do the translation for you.  And your pretty much fucked if that's the case.  Anyway I finished up my simple breakfast, washed my dishes, and went upstairs to my room to change.    All during breakfast my laptop is charging, so it's good to go now.  I forgot to charge it last night so it's my fault.  Anyway I packed my portable hard drive, and my laptop in my white waterproof bag and I was ready to go. 

Atti, myself and Maria posing for a pic with my van in
front of my accommodation...
(they really enjoyed seeing my Antarctic photos and videos)
Around 9:45 AM I left to go meet the two girls from Spain, actually they're from the Canary Islands which are owned by Spain.  Is the same islands were in the past those 2-747 jumbo jets collided on the runway back in 1971 in about 500 people died in one minute. That's the only reason why I really know well about where they are from. But aside from that I here the canary rounds are quite beautiful.  I would like going there one day because of scene photographs of it and it looks amazing.  Anyway the girls are about five minutes late to arrive but that's no big worry.  We found a coffee shop right near my hostel and I whipped out my laptop and hard drive.  I told him that I wasn't ready to do a slideshow, And I wasn't too prepared to do a presentation sort of thing, but they were still happy to see some photos nonetheless.    Anyway after the slideshow, we all walked back towards where I was staying. I showed them the camper van I used from my long trip.  They were quite excited about it.  And they want to take photos with me in front of the van.  So they asked a local to take a few photos of us together with the van.  Very funny indeed considering the van is very funky itself.

I have to admit I wasn't too organized and my little mini presentation, but I did my best in the in the two hours I had.  We join the coffee tea etc., but the girls had to get going and I had to get going to run some errands.  I also had to get back to the hostel to clean up the van and finish up packing for tomorrow's long ass hot drive to Santiago.  It's always nice to meet some fellow travelers who appreciate what you've just completed in my Antarctic adventure cruise.  The two girls were also interested in New Zealand as a travel destination as I guess most everybody is. Did watch Lord of the Rings by chance? ;-)  By the way their names are Maria and Atti.  Very friendly girls and I'm sure I'll see them in the future if I ever go to the Canary Islands.

A artistic set of shoppes in Pucon, Chile..  
I went to get another cup coffee café actually to do some more blog entry work in Microsoft Word.  I got a quick lunch at the same time, but I'm unfortunately I don't recall the name of the café whatsoever. Am I losing my mind or something?  I guess so.  I went back to the hostel after going to the café.  I need you to pack more I wasn't ready for tomorrow.  Anyway after packing a little more I got a quick nap, but I was starting to think about dinner already.  Why I've no idea because I was not hungry.  Maybe because I didn't feel like eating to pasta and sauce in the kitchen of the hostel.  I felt like company again, but didn't know anybody really,  so I texted the girls from the Canary Islands to see what they're doing for dinner.  They said they were going to be back around 7 PM from their day trip to some local town/ sightseeing thing.  They wrote me back on text and said they'd meet me at the backpacker where I was staying.

Shoppes, cafes, and etc along the main street in Pucon, Chile
So between now and 7 PM I have to find some things to do.  I realize I haven't gone tourist gift shopping yet shopping yet here in this town yet.  So I grab my backpack, and went walking up and down the streets.  I got some stuff for Rebecca's b-day, for the house, and for me.  On the way back to the hostel, I saw chocolate restaurant... You know what those gourmet chocolate places. Yummy Yum!  I know Rebecca what would've liked that place.  So I went inside to see what they have.  I don't want to eat a full meal as I was going to have a meal with the girls, so I grab some overpriced little piece of chocolate, it was dark chocolate with some Hawaiian nuts.  I got another piece of something as well which had some sort of fruit in it but it was also dark chocolate.  

Some damm good chocolate! Ummm yeah
So very good it was like the cost of NZ$8 but that didn't surprise me at all.  I started to walk back to the hostel which was two blocks away, then I got a text from Maria.  There are yet my hostel as I got there a little early from their afternoon excursion.  Of what I also didn't mention, is that today I was able to clean out the van, both on the outside in the inside thanks to the supplies hostel owner and his maid provided me. Very very friendly people and if I ever go back to this town, I will be sure to stay there.

I met them in front of the hostel, but never went inside.  I didn't know where to go to be honest.  They look a little tired, But happy to have some company. Same feeling I had I suppose.  We message stopped at one restaurant/ café on the main street but the restaurant dinner menu was very limited.  Was so limited that we decided to leave and try somewhere else.  We ended up a place across the street which had a much fuller menu.  We got some appetizer, into mains to share.  We also got some drinks too.  The food was okay, but I don't think any one of us really look at the prices because when we finally got the bill, it was so very fucking expensive. 

Night time arrives for the peaceful volcanic town of
Pucon, Chile.
Some of it was deep-fried food too, so my belly started to grumble because of it.  Anyway we have some nice conversations about all sorts of stuff.  I was teaching them some "kiwisms".  In other words I was teaching them some sayings, that New Zealanders only say back in New Zealand (or whenever they travel of course).  It was quite funny, because we all had our smart phones with Internet access.  I asked Maria to Google  following search,"Kiwisms".  She did that and started smiling.

When I think about it's very funny because New Zealanders a.k.a. Kiwis, say some very strange things in English.  Well I wouldn't like all English, I call it lazy English.  LOL!  Things like, "cool as", "eh", or "heeeey" or "Choice!".   Or about the most famous one of the mall, "sweet as!".  I warned the girls about the word "sweet as", because if you say it wrong or too slowly, someone will think you're saying "sweet ass!" and make it a strange look or slap in the face for being a pervert.  It was all fun! Although I'm not originally from New Zealand, still like to teach some foreigners some New Zealand slang.

Anyway we left the restaurant, walk down the street towards the lake.   The girls wanted to go see the lake under the moonlight, but I had to get back to my room.  So we exchanged goodbyes, in the Chilean way of saying goodbye would lite kisses on cheeks.  They asked me to send him a postcard from New Zealand, and I was more than happy to say yes.  They walked on the street into the darkness, and I did not see this see them since.

Walking back towards the hostel, I snapped a few photos of the nightlife from Pucon.  I can see the mountains in the distance, I mean the volcano that is. The town is amazing it's warm during the day, and cool at night just like I can imagine the fictional town of Dante's Peak from the Hollywood movie.  I was happy here, I could easy live here if I were able to find work in my profession and learn how to speak Spanish better.  Oh I don't know, perhaps in the future, or maybe not. Time will tell.

Back in my room, I packed some more until I was 99% packed except for my bath it and clothes I was going to wear tomorrow.
I updated my notes in my paper blog from today's activities.  I'm feeling quite sad now because I know the rest the trip is not going to be in a mountainous lovely town like this.  I'm going to be either on open highways with speeding lories/semis going by me on the blazing sun passing by dirty small towns on my way to the large city of Santiago.  I was especially was not keen bout where I was going to sleep tomorrow night  I'm thinking on when I have to sleep in back of a petrol station with other large truck in their drivers.  I don't call this adventurous, I call it being desperate for sleep.  

I should've taken more than 24 days to do this trip.  Perhaps more like 40 days up to 6 months.  Like six days ago I was bivvy camping on a beautiful lake with nobody around except for me in my camper van.  That was amazing and I miss it already.

Anyway I should be appreciative of what I've already done, an plan to come back another year.  Yes that's the mindset I have now.

My trip is almost over even though I have about five days left before my flight home to New Zealand.  While I'm looking forward to couch surfing with and meeting Leo and Andrea, I'm really not looking forward to spending 4 hot days in a large city.

Time for bed catch you tomorrow...  Cheers it's 11 PM now

Daily Summary:

The sadness I am feeling just the reality that my Patagonia trip is basically over.  My only experience left for this road trip will be hot long straight roads and probably about 700 KMs for tomorrow.
I am very appreciative of my experiences here in Patagonia. These experiences have been life changing for me for sure...

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Day 21 - 0 KMs, Pucon, Chile - Local exploration day 1

Local Pucon - exploring day #1

I woke up nice and rested today. Oh I think I will be up around 8:30 AM feeling really good because I'm sleeping on a nice bed.   I woke up brush my teeth wash my face and I went down to get my breakfast that was included in the cost of the room.   It was nothing my fancy but it was nice.   It was bread some bacon and eggs, porridge, some sort of large drink and coffee of course.   Drinking my coffee did not really appeal to me now because I wanted to go to a local café and try the coffee there instead.    

I went back to my room and get a little more packing; Well mostly my gadgets that belong in the black rolling carry-on bag.  To make things funny, my carry-on bag which is supposed away lesson 7 kg however it must wait at least 11 kg but no one ever bother to check it on my entire journey here.  I guess I'm lucky.   It's amazing almost 11 kg of gadgets camera gear and etc.  Anyway, I went downstairs to the hair salon right next door to the hostal.   I desperately want to get a haircut because at my age I don't have a lot of hair left, even I look young, but I wanted to get it shaved off like I normally do back in New Zealand.   When your guy over 40 and you don't have a lot of hair left, It's receding, Iyou to shave your head it's easier to maintain and you don't need a towel to dry your hair.  There are some good advantages of having a shaved head like to sport of swimming; this means hydrodynamics.

Shedding 40+ days of hair growth on a hot day was better
than getting a massage today!  Oh yeah - HAPPY!
Anyway enough about that, the salon then open for 30 minutes so I went back to my room and pack a little more.   I went back to the salon and I was first one in line.   Again I had to use Google translate to talk to the people, the Latina women hairstylists.  To rather try to explain what I wanted in Espanol, I just grab the clippers from her workstation and mimicked the motion of shaving my head.  She smiled and nodded her head; She knew what I wanted.   So she sat me down, put that thingy around me so no cut hair would get on me and got to work.   The hair that I had on my head was very thick.  I had about 40 days without a haircut.  This was about 20 days longer than normal.   So as the friendly Spanish woman shaved my hair off, I instantly started to feel cooler and more relaxed.  This is how it's supposed to look :-).    My haircut was going to cost me 9000 pesos, I didn't know if that was expensive or reasonable for the area, but I really didn't give a shit as I just wanted to haircut so desperately.   I was really in a good mood, the weather was nice, the locals are friendly, and mostly I was happy because I didn't have to drive the van anywhere today!  Yes that means 0 km entry for my blog!!  That's a good thing in itself.

My van's parking spot for 2.5 days with Volcan Villarica
Anyway after I got my haircut, if you brushed off the hair from my neck she then got me by the hand and pulled me to the sink.  This this was like she wanted to wash my hair as in standard procedure at a hair salon, however LOL, I don't have any hair so what she going to do?  She place my head down into the sink as expected, and spread lukewarm to hot water on my freshly shaven head.   She put on my head what felt like warm oil.   I'm thinking oh my this feels good.  That she started giving me a head/scalp massage.   Now this feels really good!  I looked into the opposite mirror and I saw that she was enjoying yourself.   She looked at me for the opposite mirror into my eyes and I could've sworn she said the word RICO to her colleague(??).   As you know from my last blog entry from about two days ago, the word RICO means 'sexy guy' in Spanish.   I could've been imagining it but maybe I wasn't?  Who knows really.  I was going to ask what she said, so I was one with it/go with the flow.  

Yummy lunch right near my accommodation.. fresh blueberry
squeezed drink. Oh mmyyy!  
She continued to massage my scalp for about 10 minutes or more, she was looking in the mirror smiling at me looking like she was enjoying it more than me.   She then proceeded to actually massage my neck.  Holy shit wow I'm thinking.  I have some single friends/ buddies back in New Zealand who would kill for the sort of treatment by a latina female.  So the hairdresser finished up,  off my head and neck and I went over to the cash register to pay.  I gave her a 10,000 peso note, as she smiled and "muchas gracias".  She gave me back 1000 pesos as change, but I gave it back to her as a tip.  She was so thankful she gave me a hug and friendly kiss on the cheek.  The kiss on the cheek is common in Argentina and Chile for all sorts of things so I thought nothing of it.

After getting my haircut and the head massage, I went back to the hostel to gather my maid would do it for me.    I said to him "are you sure about that? I'm happy to myself.".  He replied as," no worries going to enjoy your day here in our lovely town!".  I replied back, "okay but I may not be back till 9 o'clock tonight… now what?".  He replied again, "no worries just going to enjoy your day Will wash your clothes dry them and place them by your room door! Have fun out there today!".  While I'm thinking on what is going to cost me?  5000 pesos, 10,000 pesos?  But well it's worth it because I remember I paid a lot for my laundry in Ushuaia to be done by the house maid. 

So I went down to the post office to try to find out where my package was that I sent from Punta Arenas to my home in New Zealand.   I went down there and the line was short but took forever.  Once I got my turn, I use Google translate to tell her," I sent a package from down south along time ago and it never got my home.  Additionally the shipping status hasn't changed in three weeks?  Can you please tell me where my packages because I spent a lot of money for this to be shipped in New Zealand."

Pucon, Chile evacuation plan:
Just in case the shit hits the fan?
Unfortunately she didn't have the ability to use Google translate. So she pulled someone over who spoke better English to talk to me.  That was not enough so I asked me to hold on - Un Momento. Somebody came in who work for the local paramedics, he knew he was quite well and he was talking to me.  I explain the problem to him, then he talked to the local post office people.  That didn't work well either.  So I got all my paperwork and went with this paramedic guy to a local bar.  Local bar was own by an Ex-Pat US citizen who also speak Spanish.   

The paramedic explained the problem of Spanish to them but then I said "wait they speak English".  So I showed US citizen guy my paperwork from the shipping is that it never got there, in the shipping status is all fucked up because it hasn't changed  and three weeks.   He told me sometimes packages being shipped by Chilean Pst out take forever.  
Pucon, Chile - lovely volcanic town
He said that sometimes he sends the package back to the U.S. and it takes two months to get there.  Told me to have patience and wait.  He said that it two months go by and it doesn't arrive in file that insurance claim and get your stuff back.  I thanked him for his help and wished him well in his new life here in Chile.  I also thanked the paramedic for his help too, , But inside I was still not satisfied. I want to know where my fucking package was because I spent over NZ$150 to have it shipped from Chile to New Zealand.

Local birds trying to shit on tourists eating lunch below them
 at a street-side cafe..  LOL!
Anyway so I walked backed for city center and found a tourist place where I could sign up for local tour;  like one of those five hour bus ride tours where they take you to 4 or 5 local touristy things in one day.  So I signed up for a very much discounted 3 PM to 8 PM tour where I will be taken to like five different places.  These are a paper flower shop, an aboriginal sort of place, in view of a lahar live mudflow on a riverbed left over from the recent volcanic corruption, stop over at a nice natural Hot Springs (yeah) interview point where I would see three different volcanoes in the region.  

Sounds like fun doing a bus day trip, although I'm not used to being a tourist who's being a shuttled around on a bus.  However though it's all good because I didn't have time for much other things and I didn't feel like driving very much.

So after signing for the 3 PM bus tour, I went to a café for lunch and to work on my blog.  I found a nice place on a main street in order to chicken burger chips and apple cider.  I sat down in the shade under tree on the outside part of the café because it was too hot to go inside.  I had a nice seat; it was good I could do people watching.  The food was not good sadly, but that cider tasted really good because it was cold.  I finished a lot of writing while I was there actually.  

A regional beach on a lake during a 37c day.
So after my lunch and doing some writing, I packed up my laptop and walked back to the hostel.  I still had about an hour and a half before meeting up with the tour group. So I plug in my phone to charge it because the battery really sucks, and I plug my laptop in the charge that as well.  I set my alarm on my phone and I took about an hour nap.  I felt good to sleep. Anyway I'll I got up half hour before I had to be at the tourist place.  Wash my face and got changed.  
Turn around from the lake beach and see the volcano looming
in the distance..  nice!
I pack my swim shorts for the spa and all my camera gear I wanted to bring for the afternoon.  Nobody was a backpacker so I just left without saying about anybody.  I really don't know where they were.

The bus ride was interesting all kinds of people but nobody really speaking English.  Likely one of the tourists spoke English.  He was showing his family, mostly all Germans visiting from Europe, around with his German wife.  He told the bus driver/guide that he would translate everything for me. He was quite a nice guy.   Anyway we for stopped at a paper flowers place.  It was a store that looked like a flower shop, but all the flowers in the shop were made out of paper.  Wow that's amazing because it looks real.  I was asked if I wanted to buy one for anybody.  I basically replied no thank you because I have to bring it back to New Zealand and it will get destroyed in the process.  However I was very impressed very very impressed with the quality of artwork done.  

Aboriginal housing near Pucon, Chile...  
After this, we then went onward to an aboriginal place which was fenced off.  We were instructed to hop over the fence in sneak inside by the guide.  I'm thinking okay --what the fuck?  Is tourists thing was close but the guy told us to go inside.  I guess since we're in Chile it doesn't really matter and nobody cares.  Anyway rather interesting place, but rather kind of boring.  We Will drop back in the bus and drove about 30 more minutes to a new spot.  This is rather interesting because this was the leftover mudflow from the recent volcanic corruption.  The hot steamy mud was still flowing downstream from the all volcanic eruption about 7 days ago.  Rather fascinating I found it.  Was so fascinating that a local News TV station was filming it.  I guess that this is worthy of a tourist stop.

Volcanic ashflows from the recent eruption 6 days ago

It seemed to me that everybody on the bus was getting tired because the heat of the bus;  it was a so hot outside.  Our next up we went to a place where there was a lot of trees, waterfalls and shade.  For the life of me I don't recall the name of this place because I never took a picture of it/ never took a picture of the sign that is.  What the waterfall and the coldwater river below was pretty.   I so wanted to jump into it but we're not allowed to.   Jumping into it would mean I would have to jump 10 m down into the water.  Oh don't I wish, but then again 10 m is quite high jump. No thanks. Ha ha.  I would've like to just dump into the local stream just to cool off, but that's not allowed here.  I took a few photos of the waterfall and etc.  Check it out...

Lovely waterfall with icy water..
Can I jump in please? I am
dying of heat here..  :-)
Anyway after the waterfall place we took off to go to the Hot Springs.  I wasn't so sure this was a good idea because it was already so hot already outside so what's the point of going into hot water pool?   At perhaps I made a mistake by going this thing, is guided tour.  That was a brief thought of my mind but then again I nothing else to do so I want to see the area at least.  Along the way, bus driver stopped unannounced at a queso stop.  To this day I never had a queso. I think it's some sort of cheese  locally dish that's made locally.  Anyway Time was ticking away and I was wondering how we were going to have enough time to go to the Hot Springs and also go to the viewpoint of the three volcanoes.   We eventually got to the Hot Springs and it was well-made place very nice.  Look like expensive but this was included in the cost of our tour.  We were each given a little skull beanie to where the water, but for me where it was kind of ridiculous because I don't have any hair left it was just shaved off earlier.  Ha ha!  

Natural hot spring spa...very nice! Too bad the weather is warm while we're
Anyway were there for about two hours up until about 7:45 PM.  During that time  I sat there alone in the pool and didn't really talk anybody.  Why do you ask? Well I don't speak Spanish or German so I was shit out of luck and just enjoy it and just enjoyed the experience alone until this woman, about maybe 47 years old, started talking to me who was on our bus.  She was friendly, but her friend also from Santiago, spoke no English so she translated everything I said her from English to Spanish.  Was nice to talk to somebody at least.  Across the pool these two girls who look like they were 33 years old or near to that age for smiling at me. I smell back of course, but never went over to talk to them.

Eventually after our time was up at the Hot Springs, or so I thought it was, I went back to the bus but nobody was there except for the driver.  He told me and limited English that I was 15 minutes too early.  Oh well I'm here so I will just relax and sit here in the front seat where my assigned seat was anyway.  I offer some cookies, Oreo type things, to the driver and his friend and they graciously accepted.  In about 10 minutes later, the two girls who were in the pool or walking up to the bus finished for the night.   They put their bags in the back of the van, and came around and started talking to me.  

They both speak some English which was nice, but the shorter girl spoke better English than the taller girl.  Anyway it seems they're interested in getting to know me because I wasn't really talking to anybody on much of the trip and it was obvious that I'm traveling alone.  They asked overall what I was doing in South America.   So I simply replied that I was in Antarctica and a Patagonia solo road trip from Punta Arena to where I am now.  They seem fascinated by the fact that I was in Antarctica.  I told the girls that I've got mountains of photographs on my laptop if they want to see them later or tomorrow.  There're definitely keen and they're very experienced international travelers or so it would seem.  

So the bus left eventually and now we are driving in the dark back towards Pucon.  I am a little pissed off because we never saw the view of the three volcanoes that we all each paid for.    If I knew Spanish I would've asked the driver why we didn't get to see that?  But my Spanish is very limited so I gave up.  Anyway we made it back to Pucon in the two girls got off the bus first in a place that was not in the center of town.  So they said we should meet at the information center at 10 AM tomorrow morning.  I agreed and told him to have  a good night with a smile on my face.

About three minutes later the bus finally stopped at the information center where we started from originally.  I left the bus, I shook the driver's hand and said "muchas gracias, buenos noches" to him. The information center was only a five minute walk from my hostel, and I quickly made it back to my temporary home.  Anyway I was starving because we never really had dinner.  

I cooked some pasta and some sauce from the leftover cache of food I had from my van.  It was nothing fancy but it tasted good because of fill my belly.    While I was eating the owner of the hostel and his wife sat down to eat dinner themselves.  Said hello to them, however left them in piece to enjoy their dinner.  Once I finish my meal, I wash my dishes and quietly went upstairs to my room.  And what are you know! All my clothes were now nicely balanced on the handrail, folded and clean.  Wow talk about service with a smile!  I really need to thank the hostel maid for her help tomorrow morning.

Canned strawberries for dessert..
I quickly washed my face, brush my teeth, and started getting ready for bed.  However prior to going to bed, I updated in my daily paper blog with the highlights from today.  At this point I'm really tired and I'm going to bed, but I need to set my alarm clock just in case I don't sleep in too late.  After all I'm to meet those two girls from Spain tomorrow morning at 10 AM to show them my photos from Antarctica.  Anyway pretty good day, but I'm bummed out that I didn't get to see the view of the three volcanoes.

That's water under the bridge, and now I'm going to bed.

Daily Summary

It was nice to wake up and eat a breakfast without worrying about having to drive anywhere today.  I was just going to sit around the accommodation, however I will I did want to go out and do things. Dealing with the post office was a pain the ass.  I paid over NZ$130 to ship a box home with some clothing  to make space souvenirs in my backpack.   Getting out of the town and being a tourist was kind of funny.  Back home in New Zealand I always mocked those KIWIE buses shuttling tourists around. Anyway it's all good because I met some cool people and saw some cool things. Pucon, Chile is a magnificent town; I'd love to live here if possible.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Day 20 - 375 KMs, Las Cascadas, Chile (Free beach camping) (07:00) to Pucon, Chile (16:50)

Escape from Alcatraz to a Volcanic Paradise

Okay I generally sleep well last night because of the strange incident that were those three drunken local girls.  I also wasn't quite sure whether those drunken girls were telling the truth whether it is simply drunk and being stupid.  And told me that I would be arrested if I camped on the beach without paying.   In knowing how slow things go and South America I figured that I left early enough I wouldn't get caught by the police or someone else.   

So I talk to Alexis, the French guy, and agreed to get up early around 6 AM and leave.   We simply cannot want to deal with any of this bullshit anymore.   We agreed to one another that if the other was not awake by 630 in the morning, That the other one would wake the other up.   It worked out well; We're quite a good team.

So about 630 in the morning arrived, and we were both awake already; We didn't need each other's help.   So Alexis took down this text really quickly, well I sorted out the internal part of the van for the next leg of the Roadtrip.   I got to say that Alexis was quite a cool guy.  He was French but also spoke Spanish, which is quite a rare thing to come across in my history of travel.   After we packed we said our goodbyes, but we also noticed that the lake was steaming.    Water temperature of the lake in the air was sort of similar so I wasn't sure what was going on.   Anyway, in my doomsday/paranoid mindset and considering that we were camping near a volcano, I thought the volcano was waking up.   While the odds were against it but you never know.   Anyway I said I'm ago and check out the lake about 100 meters away to where it was steaming.

So I started up the van and it started quite well as usual as Alexis tightened down all the four bags on his push bike.   I honked and waved goodbye as I rolled down the beach driving southward.   I stopped at the lake where I saw some steam coming up from the water and I didn't see any bubbles so I decided just to keep going.   I took a sharp left and drove about one kilometer to the main highway.  I turn left and quickly got up 110 km/h.  After about 30 seconds of driving, I saw pushed bicyclist. This was Alexis.  I threw him a good way with my hand in honked my horn twice to him for good luck and safe riding.

Just to note I never had breakfast today and I was starving. But I just wanted to get out of that place as soon as possible. The view of the lake was very nice, But survived those drunken girls put out was not good and I wanted to get out of there without having to deal with the police or anybody else. 

After driving for about 35 minutes, I've actually reached Hwy 5 Norte towards Lonoche, Chile. According to my maps should be clearly marked exit for town called "Villarica" however this was way far away, I mean really far away or so it seemed.    I eventually found the highway turnoff for this town and after paid really close attention to the road signs because the road took me through some smalltown.   In Chilean fashion as I have learned, you can't really trust roadsigns.   I'm driving to the town, for what seemed an unnamed town, and suddenly I was lost.  There were no signs to the place I want to go, so I'm thinking "oh what the fuck!" and I said it out loud too with the window down.  I think someone on the side of the road walking by understands English by the way he reacted ha ha ha ha.   

Anyway, like many days before I got the nerves to ask a local where I should go and use my limited skills of Spanish to ask someone.   So I pulled out my map, and flag down a nice old Spanish man.   Surprisingly he understood some English, well barely, and was able to help me.   So up so I took his advice and I eventually found my way out of the own towards Villarica, but not without getting lost one more time.  That was my fault because I didn't listen to him hundred percent. Boy am I a fucking dumbass or what!?

Anyway, here's where the fun starts!    I'm driving down road, a sealed road, per the directions of the map and suddenly I come to a fork in the road.    There's no obvious correctly path and I say this because the road goes from being a sealed road, to two different gravel roads with no road markings whatsoever.   

What the fuck???  So I start to try to use my logic here.  Are there any indications of which road would be the main road?  No.   Both roads are equally as rugged looking.  This has to be a fucking joke.  So I sat there for five minutes and watch for traffic. I figured the one that has the most traffic, should be the main road.  So I saw a few cars go down the right side in this should be it.  So I got down to the right side on gravel.  Will this was a mistake that would piss me off the rest the day.  Why you say well I am driving 46 extra kilometres on my fucking way on very rough and dusty gravel road.   Have the time I was following local bus so stuck in a perpetual cloud of dust.  I was really hoping that after acrossing to the chili the last time that I would have to deal of gravel roads any more or at least for any long-distances.  I sure was wrong on that one!

So after driving these extra 46 km, I've only got your road were I saw a sign for the time I want to find in the first place.  Villarica is only about 20 km away to the north.   How this happen ?  How did I get lost?   I have no fucking idea. Anyway I was starving and thirsty at this point so I stop at a little convenient store and got a PowerAid Cold drink, and a bag of chips for a snack.  Not very healthy but you know what I don't give a shit at this point.  Even though I didn't, it feels like I just ran a marathon on a dusty rugged mountain road and I was sweaty hot and miserable. 

So while driving through the town of Villarica, I could see that no one really is around.   Very quiet. The town seems okay acids sitting on a beautiful lake, but not much really going on really going on really because it's the middle of the afternoon and in local fashion nothing is open as usual this time of day.   So I found my way out of this town by the lake road, and headed about 35 kilometers to the town of Pucon, Chile.  This town is the one that was evacuated when the Villerica Volcano erupted about six days ago.   Even though in theory going to this town could be dangerous, I was quite excited because I never saw a smoking volcano before.   The drive in this town was pretty but nothing was really new to me at this point with regards to scenery if you know what I mean.

Once I got to put Pucon, I could tell immediately that this town was special.  If you've ever seen the movie "Dantes Peak", well this place looks is a happy like that fictional town in the movie.  Incredible.  There're quite a few people there, but I could tell many of the locals were still evacuated and hadn't come back home yet.    So I quickly asked a local walking down the street if the volcano still active.  He told me "No it had sealed itself up" already.   Damn!  I missed it I'm thinking.   So I drove around to try to find a camping site, but I couldn't find anything nearby to anything.   So I instantly thought of visitor center and went there.  The visitor center guy told me right on the lake at the end of the main road.  Of sweet I'm thinking as it would have a view of the volcano.   According to the map you gave me this should be easy to find.  Boy was I wrong!  I drove around for like 45 minutes and couldn't find anything in this is a very small town too.   So I has to local who seem to be running a sailboat club, and he said there is no camping on the lake whatsoever.  What the fuck?  How can information center guy be so wrong.  Oh wait I forgot I'm in Chile LOL!  :)

So I drove around and I did find a campsite near the lake however it was not on the lake nor did had didn't have a view of anything.  It was a hot day and I was getting pissed off.    After 30 more minutes of driving around sweating to death, I decided to just go find a backpacker or hostel stay in for couple nights.  I had it I was over camping in the van I think or it would seem to be.

I eventually found a hostel smack in the middle of town.  Awesome location and I even got to park on the street for free.  So I walked in in ask how much it was for private room with my own bathroom.  Before getting an answer I asked if I could get a special price option because of the recent volcano eruption option and the and the lack of stuff to do here.   We got the front desk told me it was normally about 60,000 pesos per night, however he said he would drop it down to 40,000 pesos per night.  So I quickly did the math and I was about 35 or NZ$30 per night.  I shook his hand and said "sold".  He was a friendly guy and we quickly started talking about volcanoes.  I have to do not recall his name which is quite bad of me, but he loves the movie "Dantes Peak".  He said this town reminds him of that fictional Movietown.  I reminded him in the movie Dantes Peak the town got destroyed by the volcano.  He giggled and laughed and said "yes I know".  I laughed back at him and said okay with a smile.   I think the main point of all this is that this town called Pucon was spectacularly beautiful and the weather was nice.  I was just hot because I was driving alot without air-conditioning.

Pucon, Chile - The "Queenstown (NZ) of Chile".  Volcanic town that
resembles the fictional town in the film "Dante's Peak"

So slowly but surely I moved everything in the van up to my room on the second floor.    I had to get everything out of the van in preparation for packing it and getting ready to clean it.  Looking at all the shit I had, I have to wonder how I ever packed everything in and in these three bags in the first place.  However lucky for me I had my Excel spreadsheet told me where I packed everything originally.  This work magically in and I'm glad I was so very organized during my pre trip planning.

Realizing that I was sweaty and nasty, I got a nice cold shower room bathroom.  It felt awesome totally fucking awesome!!!   I did however obviously turn on the hot water to clean myself that was after I got a cold shower at the beginning.    So I got changed and headed out to try to find dinner, but I realized I had shitloads of food left in the van.  So I went out to the van got all my food, , Put it into the shopping bags, and brought it all into the hostal.  To put it on the shelf for the next three days of meals.  There was a friendly Latino couple they're sitting there while I was eating.    I try to speak with them, but they did not know English.  Big surprise? No.

I did however realize that each of us had android smartphones are hands.  So I pulled out my phone and used Google Translate to talk to them.   There's an audio portion to the application as well so that people can hear it.   They pulled out their phone and used it to speak English.   If it's really amazing how technology can help to people who don't know each other's languages to be able to communicate.  While this is not perfect, it's a good start.  So I say good night to them and that I see them tomorrow.  Very friendly couple, they're very nice people.

So I headed back up to my room really tired, well fed and sleepy but I still have to do my blog entries.   This is when I realized my room didn't have a good night table lamp.  Ouch!  All this nice stuff and they forget the important things like an desk lamp.   No worry I took out my head torch like I was still camping.

I did the paper blog for today's entry, but did not do any entries into my Microsoft Word blog--this is the detailed one for each day.  I was just too fucking tired and needed a good night sleep.

I'm headed to bed it's around 10:45 PM....  Its really good to be in Pucon and I am looking forward tomorrow!  See you tomorrow!

Daily Summary

Today was rather interesting day to say the least.  Getting out of dodge early in the morning then onward up a quick jaunt via Ruta 5 Norte.  As for getting lost and the maps for Chile? Well I expect no less from this trip!  LOL!     As for the dusty, ratty and dusty ratty 46 KM of shit road, I hope to not see any more gravel roads from the driver's seat of my van from this trip.  I am excited to be in Pucon now though as I get relax for almost 3 days.