February 28, 2004

Chile flagNo need to get up early today, so we slept in until 8 am then went downstairs for breakfast. We had decided not to climb the volcano, for various reasons, so we had no definite plans for today other than reorganizing everything in preparation for the trip home tomorrow. After breakfast we took out the tent fly, which we had packed when it was wet many days ago, at Parque Nacional Los Alerces. Unfortunately it had some mildew spots on it and it was still a bit wet, so we laid it over the bed so that it could dry properly.

Next we went for a walk around Villarrica to check out the shopping. Since it was only 10 am many shops were not yet open, but we did see some souvenir items that looked interesting. We stopped at the bakery and bought some ham, bread, and raisin buns for lunch as well.

We went back to the hostel to eat lunch, and found that the “raisins” in the raisin buns were really bits of olive. Too bad, neither of us likes olives much. But the loaf of bread was just as good as yesterday’s. After lunch we did some more reorganizing, mostly emptying the packs and getting rid of junk. Then we decided to take the bus to Pucón for something to do in the afternoon.

Pucón is only about 20 minutes away and the round-trip fare is only 700 pesos, so away we went. Once in Pucón we went to the tourist information centre and go a map, then headed towards the lake as our first stop. The clouds were very low and rain showers kept getting us wet, but it was still not a bad way to spend the afternoon. We wandered all over the place looking at the different artisan shops, some of which we found by following the sound of a bagpiper playing pop music. Finally we decided to stop and have a cup of hot chocolate. Rosemary had the usual hot chocolate but Paul decided on a shot in the dark and ordered a “submarino”. This turned out to be a chunk of Nestlé’s milk chocolate, maybe 100 grams; you put it in your cup and the waiter then fills the cup with hot milk. It’s like drinking a chocolate bar.

After finishing our drinks we wandered around a bit more, going over to the harbour where we watched some grebes with their chicks for a while. Then we headed back to Villarrica; on the way out of Pucón we passed a group of flower vendors, who were selling blossoms of amazing colour and size. It was easy to notice the difference between the two towns; Pucón is definitely geared towards the tourist with fancy hotels, numerous restaurants and gift shops, whereas Villarrica is more a place for the locals. No fancy restaurants here, in fact hardly any restaurants at all.

On the way back to the hostel we stopped at a large fruit and vegetable market and bought some corn on the cob and a large quantity of other veggies for our dinner. The tent fly was dry, so we packed up the tent and some other things. But Rosemary’s lone pair of clean socks was still wet, so we went out to buy a new pair. We hadn’t been able to find a sock-selling store in Pucón, but there was no problem in Villarrica. While we were at it we also bought a little leather change purse and a wooden sugar bowl.

We also went back to a shop where we had seen wooden birds in the morning. These were different from the other wooden birds that we had seen everywhere, because they were actually identifiable bird species. We bought a Torrent Duck, which represented the first half of our trip, and a Chucao, which we had seen and heard frequently in the second half, for 6500 pesos each.

Our dinner tonight turned out to be huge! Pasta with vegetables, corn on the cob, and fruit salad, and we had a lot of fruit left over. The extra food we bagged for tomorrow’s trip to Puerto Montt, and we made up ham sandwiches for that as well. As we washed the dishes, it was pouring rain outside, but the forecast for tomorrow is partly cloudy. We wrote our diaries, checked our e-mail, and with a little more pack organizing we were ready for bed.

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