Such was the case with Pucon - the so-called adventure capital of Chile. Within an hour of town there are numerous lakes, mountains, hot springs, volcanoes and Class III and IV rivers. A day before we arrived, the most prominent and famous volcano Villarrica had an avalanche. [avy-nerds: 60cm deep wet slide on top of an early-season ice layer, D1, R2, NW slope, 1 party of 9 caught, 1 injury - broken leg] While the climb is not that intense, the views from the top of the volcano are supposed to be fantastic. The volcano is active and has a lava-filled crater lake in the middle, spewing up plumes of smoke. Anyways, the park service shut down access to the mountain. The rest of the park was already closed due to snow, so we couldn't even hike around it. The mountain biking was all on roads instead of trails. The other big park nearby limits camping to refugios (the "improved campsites" that we despise). The weather was in a funk of fog, clouds and rain. Two days of hanging around and we weren't having fun. So, despite the fact that we didn't see any of the natural wonders around Pucon, we left.
We didn't have to go far to feel better. The less touristy town of Villarrica, also on a lake, offered us good respite. We found an excellent shop and ate cake for dinner. There is an amazing hostel there. The owners are Swiss and traveled half-way around the world by bike, before ending up in Villarrica and starting the hostel. The walls were absolutely covered with pictures and postcards from all over the world, mostly of cyclists. It was really inspiring. We even got homemade bread, jam and yogurt for breakfast, in addition to coffee/tea, oatmeal and fruits. It was a real departure from most of our homestays and hostels. Simply put, it just felt right.
Sorry Pucon - we never got to see your true beauty. But there are a lot of mountains and lakes and volcanoes in our future, so don't feel like you're the only one.
Well, we're on the road again to a college-town that was mostly founded by Germans in the 1850s. Kristin is reading Motorcycle Diaries, which I really liked. It has all the fun and whimsy of Steinbeck's Tortilla Flats, plus it gives you a keen insight into the development of Che's passions, social and political views. I am starting on War and Peace, which doubles the weight of my backpack. Thanks Alisa for the excellent, if hefty, Christmas present. I certainly have the time to read it!
Taking a breath, taking in the views: above the town of Pucon, looking out onto Lago Villarrica.