Travels through Mendoza & Pucon
The last few days in Santiago were crazy! We finished up our Spanish classes on the Friday having learnt very little more, and speaking even less, but in theory we had covered what we wanted – go figure.
Mindy came home on Friday night and had our whole weekend planned out, which was a little bit of a relief as we weren’t sure what else we had to check out in Santiago. We started the weekend with a death/heavy metal concert - noiiiice. We got there at about 1am and by about 1.05am we were all ready to leave – Mindy included – the problem being that her mate’s band (a Pearl Jam tribute band) weren’t due on until 3am. Luckily enough they were pretty good, but with ringing ears and sore throats we left the club half way through their set at 3.30am.
Saturday morning we headed off early to the fish markets to grab all the ingredients we could muster for cerviche and then packed up and headed out bush (that’s into the country for you English folk) to hang with Mindy’s best mate from school, her girlfriend, Katy and Carolina. The weekend was fab and in true Chilean style all we did was eat, drink and make merry. We ate lunch after a swim in their pool (oh my god, their house is a playhouse – the bar has every spirit under the sun in it and must be worth thousands) at about two, had some more booze, a little nap, and then started cooking dinner about 11pm. By this point it was freezing, and I was rugged up like a little old nana, but it was worth it as we guzzled down even more choripans (god I could live on them) and mounds and mounds of meat. Soooo good. So after a few more drinks, some random Karaoke, and too much trying to understand drunken Spanish, I decided to call it a night about 4.30am (Lee put in the hard yards for another couple of hours). So on Sunday we had a lazy start, ate some more and then headed back to Santiago in the afternoon.
It was really hard to say goodbye to Santiago and Mindy the next day, she has been so good to us and looked after us awesomely, (I had a little cry – attributed to lack of sleep and too much accumulated boozing I am saying) but we were really excited to be spending the next four days in Mendoza with Tommy and Clare. After an eight hour bus ride and border crossing we rocked up to sweltering conditions in Mendoza – I’m not sure we’ll be cut out for Perth summers. So it was straight to the hostel and beer with Tommy and Clare. The four days were brilliant, and getting to have celebratory drinks for their engagement was the icing on the cake. So we drank for the four days. We started with a bikes and wine tour through the Maipu valley which was awesome. Hitting up as many wineries as we could in eight hours and sampling all the oils, chocolates and of course wine that we could find. We also managed to fit in some white water rafting which despite not lasting nearly long enough was a definite highlight, if not just for Clare’s constant giggling the whole way down!
After saying a final goodbye to our buddies (they’re now off to Asia for Loz & Jacko’s wedding )we headed back over the border into Chile, with another massive bus ride, and ended up in Pucon, 22 hours after we left Mendoza.
Pucon was Lee’s idea, I hadn’t done much researching on the south, but given that the town is centred on climbing its active Volcano (billowing smoke and everything!), Lee was hooked. And fair play, it turned out to be one of the funnest things we have done so far. After a false start on day one when weather was poor, we managed to start our climb on the second day. The walk was brilliant!!! We started with the chairlift (cheating I know, but everyone did it) and then had a four hour climb up to the summit through the snow and ice. We didn’t find the climb particularly challenging though it was tough enough to claim a few victims along the way (maybe I’ll have to admit that all the trekking Lee’s making me do is paying off after all!). The toughest part was constantly thinking you were within spitting distance of the top, only to round the corner and realise it goes on and on. So after four hours of wandering through the ice – learning that you need to space your legs when walking in crampons as falling can be both painful and humiliating – we reached the smoking summit of the Volcano. It was so stunning, the view over the whole valley was magical, with more snow capped mountains and volcanoes in the distance and forest and lakes in the foreground, only to be reminded that you were standing on a smoking volcano crater by toxic fumes wafting over you. The stench was awful, so when the wind changed you were hopelessly trying to close eyes, mouth, nose and anything else you could find to avoid the burn and smell. But the best bit, and the funnest thing, ever was the decent. I must admit, the whole way up I kept thinking – I don’t like the idea of coming back down this slippery slide, but they must have had the same thoughts. They rigged us up in all this waterproof garb, strapped a spoon on us (one of those snow spoons you buy for €3 in France) and literally pushed us down the mountain. It was BRILLIANT!!! What took us four hours of sweating to climb, took us an hour of pure unadulterated pleasure getting down. My stomach now aches from laughing so hard. BEST THING EVER!!!
So after three days in Pucon where we rode bikes around waterfalls, climbed volcanoes and once again drank a little too much, we headed south and are now in a cute little town called Valdivia which is famous for its beer and German heritage – wouldn’t you know it.
From here we have a packed couple of weeks where we are again crossing the border back to Argentina to see Bariloche and its beautiful lakes and mountains, back across the border to check out more of Chile and some of its islands, and then down to the very heart of Patagonia on the Navimag where we will sail through the glaciers before hopefully mustering up the energy and courage to trek them. Should be awesome.
Anywho, love to all and keep us updated, we miss all the news!
Love Em & Lee xx