Alright. The dreaded update... wrenching into the depths of my mind trying to remember what in gods name i did last week, let alone the week before it. And the sad part is that I know that I have to do the same shit in my journal. From exactly the same point. Lord of the Rings I cannot resist your temptations. So that was a huge disappointment. We were all settled in front of the tv, watching Frodo and Sam climb up the staircase of doom into Mordor, and the battle was just beggining when there was a commercial break, so we raced upstairs to grab some random shit, such as shoes for my blue toes and water or something, and when we come back down the guy shuts the door in our face and tells us he's closed. Once again they closed half an hour early on us. We were pretty choked, and dragged our feet up two flights of stairs to stand in our empty room at 1130 at night, cursing his name and wondering what other anticlimatic thing we could fill the void with. It was super depressing. We turned on some music and wrote in our journals or something, which was pretty good, but honestly, to this day I still think about Lord of the Rings and what the hell happens at the end. It has been so long.... so good. I love that series... as you can all tell, so I will shut up about it as your are here for South America, not some movie that we have all watched.
Rafting... Rafting was awesome. We had a small group of six, consisting of two other couples. Romantico Rafting. hmm... but both of the other couples spoke Spanish so the guide kept on having to translate everything to us, which was awesome but I still wish that we could speak Spanish! The river was extrodinarily beautiful. We drove into the woods for an hour or so, had a small brekkie of bread and jam, and then suited up, jumped in the van again, and another half an hour or so to the river. We jumped in the boat and were off. There was the guide and two safety kyaks, which looked like they were having the most fun out of anyone! I really want to try that! They were ripping it down the rapids, and then would turn around and just sit in a rapid, paddling lightly and doing all these crazy tricks like dipping the nose in and sticking straight up with their head in the water, and then back down, and all sorts of spins and stuff. Looked awesome. Note that these are tiny little river kyaks.
There was probably about 8 rapids, getting progressively harder. It was about a level 3, and honestly both Orin and I agreed that we would have enjoyed a 5 better, as it doesn't take much skill if you are able to row, which suprisingly some of the Argentinians couldn't... which made sense when they told us they couldn't swim either. Everyone's not so lucky as to grow up by a river and a lake! But even so it was a blast! We were just all pumped up and ready for some super craziness; and were not satisfied until we got a good 10 foot drop or somthing, which did not happen. We did try to do a "wheelie" in our boat, but everyone was a bit too scared to really put their back into it, and we kind of just did a lopsided rise... The group was really awesome, everyone was enthusiastic and the guide was really good, kind, funny and bilingual. There were a couple of straight stretches where we all jumped off and floated for a while. It was pretty damn cold, but we were all wearing wet suits with little booties and such so it wasn't that bad. It was a great time, and now we know that we need to keep an eye out for some 5's. I won't be content with anything less than barely legal.
We pulled the boat over just as we hit the Chillean border, and for about 5 minutes we entered Chile for the first time this trip. Very beautiful... Looks a lot like Argentina actually. haha. So we hiked up this very steep hill, some poor horse had our deflated boat on its back, but it didn't seem to mind actually, the horse seemed to be having an easier time than the argentinian guys. haha. We got changed, jumped back into the van, and after an hour or so were back at the beginning point where we were served breakfast. We were all famished, and from the van window I could see that the table was pristinely set, wine glasses and salad already out. We got out of the van and went inside, and had barely sat down when they came out with a big sizzling hot plate, hot coals still burning under it to keep it warm, absolutely piled with meat. Chicken, Beef and Chorizo, all sizzling away looking tasty as all hell, with some potatoe salad, lettuce, tomatoes etc and a bottle of wine. It was one of the best meals yet. So So so good. We all ate until we couldn't fit another bit in our mouths, and then went outside where I drank some wine in the sun until it was time to go. Awesome.
So the next day we left Bariloche for Junin de Los Andes, where we found a cute little camp site by the river, which turned out to be not so cute when a bunch of guys pulled up in a car. Idiots, is what we called them mostly. They were noisy, and thoughtless, randomly turning the car on during the night and revving it for power I assume. The problem with that is that not only is the revving engine noisy, but their car is a peice of shit, and their belt was messed up and screaming like a banshee. Luckily we were not trying to sleep at this point but there were many people around us that we saw go to bed much earlier. Jerks. So the next day we moved farther down camp, and it wasn't quite so bad. It just aggrivates me when people are that rude. In the end the campsite was awesome, we had a parrilla there, and grilled every night. Fat steaks, which I am learning to really like medium rare. I used to be terrified of red in meat, and now am realizing that is why they call it red meat. Orin's made me love steak, and I have turned him on wine, and therefore we have wonderful evenings. Both nights we grilled steak, onion, peppers, and mini squash. So friggin good man. So our purpose for being in Junin was to visit Parque Lanin to see a volcano and enjoy the park. We got up early, like 7 30 ish, and packed a lunch and grabbed a day bus to the park, where we arrove at 11 and would leave at 5 45. It was very different than we thought. Firstly, they charged us 30 pesos to get in, like 10 bucks, which is pretty hefty for a park that has no infastrcuture or paths laid out. Also, and Argentinian went in before us and only had to pay 8 pesos. Such a weird system that no Argentinian seems to agree with, all of them quite shocked that we get so badly gouged and exploited just cuz we're forgeign. So pretty much what happened was that they drove us out to the middle of nowhere and said get out, see you in 6 hours. So we got out, went to the lake, and ate some food. There was a little campground across the river, with a bell on our side that you could ring, and ther was a little dude in a boat sitting there, waiting to pick you up. Pretty damn awesome. Then we sat there and wondered what the hell we were going to do for another 5 hours. So we walked for a bit, hoping to find something, some hiking trail or little town or something, and then ran into the Argentinian who was on the bus with us, who introduced himself as Diego. He told us there was a little town or something about 1 km from there and that he was planning on walking, and as we were going the same way he joined us. So, about 2 km later we found a little information place, and he went in and worked his Argentinian magic, and we walked down to a nice little beach nearby. We went there, took a nap, ate some food, and then it was almost time to go. It was a beautiful area, but they dropped you off in the most random place, and there was no way to go anywhere. Kind of rediculous for a place we paid 20 bucks to get into! It would have been awesome if there was a bike rental place in there, but this was not an on foot exploration park. We had a good time looking the beauty and volcano, and talking to Diego about Argentina. He was so proud of his mate, it was awesome. We coudln't quite understand what he was getting at, but apparently he never washes his mate cup, and never EVER lets anyone put sugar in it, as it ruins the taste. Pretty hard core about there mate here man.
The next day we got up super early for our 630 bus and were on our way to Chile! It went pretty smoothly, except for instead of getting up on time I lay there having scary dreams about being late for the bus and the taxi leaving on us, and then woke up to near reality. But we got there on time, got some coffee, and met this guy from the UK named Chris at the bus stop. He was trying to decide where to go, and we convinced him to come to Pucon rather than Temulco, which is just a bus stop over for tourists and quite business orientated. The border crossing was pretty good, though we almost got killed for asking if we could bring avocados over the border. Oops!
We Arrove at Pucon at about 11, and got scammed into joining Chris at this crazy little Chillaen guys house across town. His promises of having a car and hot water proved to be futile, and when we arrove to his place he pointed across the street at a place under construction and said "that is my hostel.... but it burnt down.... so you will be staying here with me!".... it was strange and hilarious. We ended up sleeping in his room...very strange. All it consisted of was a bed, a seedy brazilian flag, a picture of a skimpily clad girl, a dirty bike, and a seriously giant panda bear. Okay.... and this guy was like 50. Lucky Chris got to share a room with this character, who introduced himself as Lalo Bravo. Lalo sat us down, made us some tea and coffee, and then proceeded to talk our ear off for like an hour. No joke. We heard about his ex wife (curvy, sexy, but Italian, therefore what a temper! And the family...don't get me started! haha) and his love for Pinochet. I repeat, his love for Pinochet. Apparently, contrary to what I expected, just under half of Chile supports Pinochet. Sure, they aren't too impressed with his homicidal tendencies, but hey, the man jump started the economy, chased out those damn commies and wrote the Constitution of Freedoms and Rights (which he then violated over and over again). We were first introduced to this subject when Chris, who is journalist and therefore knows who's who, picked up a picture of a man looking a lot like Lalo and Pinochet, exclaiming "Is this a picture of you and the general!", to which Lalo responded that it was not him, but his father, who worked for the regime. Then he explained that when Pinochet stepped down, and here's how he put it, asked if the people wanted him in power any more, and when they all said "nah, go home Pinochet, your work is done" he simply stepped down and sent home. But, aha, here's the kicker, before they left, Lalo's father was murdered because he knew too much. We all sat there shocked, until I piped up... doesn't that piss you off... they murdered your father. To which crazy man responded, nah, it was his job. It is seperate. It is his work. And we all sat there entralled that this man had a picture of his father, standing beside the famous dictator that gave the order for his fathers death. What. The. Fuck. But how hard can you press a maniac whose bed you are sleeping in, right?
So Lovely Lalo set us up with a tour up the Volcano that looms over Pucon. He showed us a little video of people waving, having fun, hiking, great family adventure! But no shots of lava, even though its there, for sure, it is "the suprise". Apparently the suprise being that you have to push your body beyond human measure to get to the top, risking plunging into the pit of death, pushing by the freakishly overagressive wind, only to find out that there is no lava, and has no been lava in 2 years. Bastard.
So, naively, we set this tour up for the next morning, and walked with Chris down to the beach, where we met a couple of people, a girl from Alberta, and guy that Chris had hung out with on his travels before. Oh, something that should be mentioned about Chris is that he is a fellow motorbike enthusiast, so him and Orin had an oral orgy based on bikes, as I sat there trying to follow. I did alright. I am improving. So we all hung out on the beach and then went out for beers. We broke up around dinner time, as Orin and I had to go get fitted for our volcano gear, which consisted of a windbreaker suit and some ill fitting hiking boots. All you have to bring is a lunch and some sunglasses, they assured us. Liar. And tomorrow is supposed to be a beautiful day.... which the Albertan girl proceeded to tell us her company told her it was going to be shitty and they may cancel. Liars....
We had plans to make dinner with Chris at the house, so he headed to the grocery store. We fitted up, grabbed some stuff from the store for lunch the next day, got lost, and by the time we made it home dinner was practically on the table. It was awesome! So we ate up quick, shared some of the artisan chocolate Orin and I had stored from Argentina, and then went back to town to meet our new friends for more beers. Bad plan as tomorrow would tell us. But it was a good time nonetheless, and we headed home and were in bed for midnight, with no alarm set, as Lalo promised to wake us up with coffee at 6. Liar.
So the bugger woke us up at 7, whining about how Chris snored and he had to use ear plugs so he couldn't hear the alarm... blah blah blah, get the hell up, the car is coming to pick you up in 5 minutes. So we got up, groggy eyed, grabbed our stuff from the fridge, and got in the car. We showed up at the tour place late, but no one seemed to really care, or actually know what was going on. We transferred our stuff into their bag they provided for each of us, and got in the van, and then proceeded to wait for everyone else to finish their coffee and get in. Hmm, Ironic. We drove to the volcano and were dropped off at the ski lift at the bottom, as it is a ski hill in the winter. Our guide suggested that we use the lift as it would save us an hour, and, gasp, he just realized that the weather may not be great all day. So we got on the lift, for an extra 8 friggin bucks each, and then started our hike. So we hiked, and hiked, and hiked, and hiked, and hiked. The guy was a friggin slave driver, ICH NICH BREAKS! HEIL HELL! And so we trekked, and so I died slowly inside, knowing that Orin is part machine, part giant, and not quick to tire. I had to keep stopping, out of breath on this crazy endless incline. Also, we didn't have a chance for breakfast, damn you Lalo! We slurped down some yogurt, but not nearly enough to keep you going up Volcano Satansnads. Our cereal, ironically named Fitness, which apprently I am very low on, lay untouched at Lalos house. So here I am on the side of this mountain of doom, feeling very much like Sam in LOTR (had to), contemplating offing myself. In the end, our guide, who guided me to exhausting and nearing passing out from overexhertion, was trying to get us up to the top before the weather turned bad, which honestly I really didn't give a shit about. I would like to get to the top without suffering cardiac arrest, rather than getting to the top in time to continue climbing to the summit without dying. Seriously, we were passing groups as I was close to passing out. It was mental. Orin was getting pretty pissed about how harsh this guy was being, as I was obviously not up to it. At this point the other two guys in our group had opted to hike the first part rather than take the lift and were yet to catch up to us. So after an hour and a half of this we arrove to the icey portion of the volcano, where he actually allowed us to have a break and eat some food. Thank you baby Jesus. The other two caught up not long after, and they had a quick rest, then we all strapped on our crampons and began the slog up the snow. For the first bit it was quite neat, having never hiked on ice before, it was pretty damn cool how much grip you have, but it lost it's magic quick, as we climbed over a hill and I looked up to endless ice, the path zig zagging back and forth because of the steepness. We hiked on, put one foot infront of the other, then that foot infront of the other foot, and then again, and again, my eyes on the ground and this playing over and over in my head, begging myself to find some energy. The guide made me walk at the front of the group... i'm not sure why... perhaps to shame me into keeping pace and not break, but whatever the fuck his reasoning was it was a cruel move. Whenever I had to stop, so did everyone else, no one was allowed to pass me, god forbid they utilize the fact that there was two guides an break it up into hiking boys and exhausted female. Funnily enough, I needed frequent breaks but was generally outpacing one of the other boys, who too looked like he was having a rough time. At one point the guide tried to get me to stop, and told me that the rest would go on as I wouldn't make it, and that I would just have to wait. That royally pissed me off, as I was paying this douche to guide me up the mountain, not make me feel like shit on a stick. So I told him to stuff it and suffered up to the top of the ice, finally back on dry ground. This was where he told me that he forbid me to go on, that I was too tired and that I wouldn't be able to make it back down. It was too much of a hike to the top, and if I went it would take and hour rather than 50 minutes.... okay. So what he really should have said here was that around the corner the winds were extremely strong, dangerously so, and that I would have a really difficult time, especially being as tired as I was, and that bad weather was moving in quick, leaving me at risk of being caught in a storm on the peak of the volcano. But no, he just told me that I was basically too weak, and that I would stay behind while the men summited. I was pretty crushed. So I sat there miserably, freezing half to death while the guys ripped up to the top, retuning in about an hour and a half. By this point I was pretty much frozen, shivering like crazy, and about 10 minutes before they returned I walked over to where the guide was sitting, and he was a little scared as to the fact that I was developing hypothermia on top of this god damned volcano. So he gave me some better gloves, the ones that we had where thin and useless, and gave me another touque, and told me that we had to go down now. I agreed, not wanting to leave Orin but not wanting to die alone with this asshole up there, so started suiting back up, when thank god Orin appeared out of no where. I pretty much cried out of happiness that he was not dead, as many had to turn back due to the terrifying wind, and one person that did make it told me that it was scary as all hell, and that her life flashed before her eyes a couple times. Great. So we all suited up quick, as I was very cold, and trekked back down. This was much more fun and quick, and we got back down in record time. Thank the lord. Now, during all of this fear and loathing in Los Volcano, there was definatly some awesome moments. The view was absolutely breathtaking, and for the first while waiting at the top I enjoyed it quite a lot, playing in the strong wind and looking at the beautful mountains, until the storm came in and froze my witch tits off. So all is not lost. And I know that this may sound very strange, but even though I was very dissapointed in myself that I could not make it to the top, in a fucked up way it felt good to fail. It was a strange feeling, a grand failure, something that I could not defeat. The mountain completely broke me and it was oddly freeing. I don't know how to explain something like that, but I guess sucess means nothing if it isn't riddled with failure.
So we made it down the mountain, got back in the car, got back to Pucon, walked home and fell into bed, sleeping from 5 until 8 the next morning. It was then that we realized that we had ran ourselves ragged from travel, and were in no state to climb such an intense peak. If only the company hadn't been such a scam! We had encountered the deadly combination of travellers exhaustion, no breakfast, and were unprepared for the extreme cold and wind due to a terrible tour company. In the end, I think that Orin had a pretty good time and was pretty pumped about seeing into the volcano. I'm pretty jealous but am going to photoshop myself into the photo of him at the top. Hahahaha. But seriously, I am. It will be awesome. Probably 20 years down the road I will have forgotten that I didn't even make it and will look at that picture fondly remembering the time I climbed that Volcano in Chile.
The next day we busted out of that damned town, and bused up to this town called Rancagua, about 5 hours from Pichilemu, where we are now. That was quite an experience as well! We got pitched out of the bus onto the side of a highway at like 10 30 at night, and we had to use a phone near by and called a taxi. The guy who showed up compeltely moulded our Rancagua experiences. We went to the only hostel in the book, which looked desolate and creepy, so asked him to take us somewhere different. Ultimately, he took us somewhere very, very different. First he took us to this hotel which looked rocking nice but was out of our price range. We came out and told him that so he told he us knew of a cheap motel, and that he would take us there. Cheap motel it was my friends. He drove us about 15 minutes out of town, parts of it on a gravol road, all the while explaining that we would get 10 hours and two drinks.... not really understanding what he was saying we just smiled and nodded.... maintain.
Sorry folks, this is a too be continued juicy tale. It is a good one too! And Deb, sorry for the late return on the email, been while since computer ville, but I will hit you one back tomorrow! (hopefully) We are hoping to go surfing if the weather is good.
Good night everyone!