Thursday, December 21, 2006

Arrival in Pucon, Chile

We took a twelve hour overnight bus trip to Pucon, traveling south from the costal harbor of Valparaiso through the "heartland" to this lovely Germanic berg in the Lakes District at the foot of the Andes. Today, the area has the look ... and weather! ... of southwestern Oregon, complete with green pastures, cloudy dark skies and lots of mist with occasional rain. The town is situated on the shore of Lake Villarrica and at the base of Volcan Villarrica, a 2847m active volcano complete with smoking crater highlighted by the glow of molten lava.

Once again, we were pleased and delighted with our hostel, La Tetera, chosen via guidebook, Internet, and a lot of guessing about what all those descriptions and scrunched graphics might have to say about a real stay here. We have a small, warm, tidy room for $24 dollars per person per night, which includes the town's best breakfast (our favorite meal!).

Red ripe cherries hang just out of reach outside our window. Our window also overlooks the hostel ¡ecole! next door. The guidebook says it includes an excellent & inexpensive vegetarian (salmon is a vegetable, right?) restaurant. (We'll see...) A quick stroll past several of the town's many tourist offices and adventure companies confirms that there is no end of outdoors adventure to be had here. So we feel very comfortable and prepared to celebrate Christmas and New Years here in Pucon before continuing south on January 2nd.

We were intrigued by the many evidencies of the town's volcanic activity warning system. Somewhere, somehow, someone or something monitors the pulse of the volcano 24/7, displaying its status via a horizontal "stop light" on the town hall (yes, we are currently under the green light). Changes are signaled by a warning siren as well. The detailed escape plan directs residents of different areas to a safe zone if the volcano should change its mood.

Per our guide book: “The volcano has experienced repeated catastrophic eruptions over the centuries, most recent as 1971, when a 4km-wide fracture opened, releasing massive lava flows that destroyed the small township of Conaripe and only just spared Pucon. Smaller eruptions are even more common – such as in Septemberr 1996, when Vocan Villarrica shot out columns of thick gaseous smoke that covered its northwest slopes in a fine layer of ash.” (Lonely Planet, Trekking in the Patagonian Andes, 2003)

If this weather ever changes, maybe we'll get to see this volcano that we've learned (and heard) so much about. (Word is we can even climb it!)

1 comment:

Ginger said...

Looks so fun! Looking forward to seeing pictures of the area.

You shoulda been more bold with getting the pirate's picture, yes? I'm sure he'd have been proud to pose with Jolene!

Hey, I'm trying to work on your Christmas music. Maybe I'll get it to you by Christmas....

We're about to head out for a drive to see the lights with the parenti.