This will be my last post for this blog. It’s been fun and I’m happy I decided to do it. It’s great having a way to remember my adventure in Chile other than through photos. Now, I’ve been back from Chile for over a week now so what follows is a list of events that happened while I was in Chile. My promise to deliver daily blog posts sort of fell through the roof due to a lack of wifi and an incident at the airport in Temuco which left me without my laptop when I got to Punta Arenas. So let’s get started because we have a lot of ground to cover.
Adventuring in Temuco:
After leaving Santiago, I made my way to Temuco in order to meet up with Courtney and Jorge who was nice enough to let me stay at his place. Temuco itself is a very ordinary town, but despite this, I still managed to have a good time. I played soccer with Jorge and put on a pretty impressive goaltending clinic that had all the Chilean players talking at the end of the game. We did end up losing the game 14-12 however. In all fairness, I impressed myself with how well I played. There are a few reasons for this. One, when I started playing soccer, the first position I tried was goalkeeper. My first game was a disaster, we lost 25-1. After that, I decided to play defense and I’ve never looked back since. Two, I’m short and therefore stopping the ball is difficult. I challenge you to name a short goalkeeper who either won a Euro or World Cup or was successful playing at a professional level such as in the Premier League. I also got a chance to rediscover my childhood staying up late playing Mario Kart 64 with Courtney and Jorge all the while drinking wine. Jorge has mad skills and Courtney is extremely competitive. It made for fun nights. The thing I will retain the most though, mainly because it was something I never expected to do was participate in a Man vs Food challenge, Chile edition. At this restaurant called Otto Sandwich, they have this sandwich called the Highlander that if you manage to finish in under 18 minutes, it’s free. I seriously don’t know why I did it. Maybe because I thought I could win. This sandwich tastes amazing, it has tomatoes, cheese, beef, bacon, lettuce, chorizo, avocado, mayonnaise and sautéed onions. In the end I managed to eat half in nine minutes and then I couldn’t continue so I had to give up. I don’t I ever want to do something like that again, it’s a waste of food, you feel like you never want to eat again and experiencing being food drunk is not fun. I don’t know how people do it.
Being outdoorsy in Pucon:
In between my adventure in Temuco, I went to Pucon with the goal of climbing a volcano. Yup, you heard me, a volcano. There’s this volcano called Villarica about 30 minutes from the town which you can either climb weather permitting or go skiing. You do need to go with a guide though and this for obvious reasons that apparently not everyone understands. About a two months ago, three tourists decided to climb the volcano despite the guides telling them it was suicide, and they haven’t been heard from since. It’s called common sense, people, common sense. Anyways, in my group we were seven. There was a couple from Australia, a couple from Brazil, a girl from France, the guide and me. I talked a lot with the Aussies. Turns out the wife is actually originally from France, from Avignon in fact, thank god, finally not some egocentric and self-entitled Parisian. Not to say that this is how I perceive all Parisian but lets just say that I haven’t met a nice Parisian person yet. They always make the point that my French sounds funny but are happy that I’m trying. Thanks, I feel so much better knowing that (insert sarcasm). The interesting thing with the wife was that she’s been living in Australia for six years and because of it, she’s acquired the Australian accent. I guess that makes sense, I also met French girls who had been studying in Argentina for six months and because of this their Spanish sounded very Argentinian minus the perceived drunken slurring and I also have a friend who is Canadian who moved to Georgia who now speaks like a southerner. Getting back to the climbing of the volcano, I kid you not, this was probably the most physically exhausting thing I have ever done. I dare someone to tell me that hiking in the Gatineau Mountains is tough. Climb a volcano and then we’ll talk. It was so tough in fact that after the first thirty minutes of the five-hour hike, my legs already felt like cement and I was questioning whether or not I should continue. Luckily for me, Mother Nature decided for us and when we got to about the halfway point, the weather was so bad, wind was gusting at like a 100km an hour, there was hail and it was also starting to rain, that we had to stop our ascent. As we began our descent, the guide told us that going down the way we came was not as much fun as sliding down the volcano, you heard me. So we got on our flying saucers and we literally flew down the mountain, I wish I could have taken a picture, it was really awesome. This is also how I lost my glasses. You see the first part of our descent was apparently too icy to slide down on the saucer so we just winged it and went on our backs. As I was sliding down, using my pickax to control my speed, I suddenly realized that this thrill ride was higher and scarier than Splash Mountain, and at that moment out of panic, I threw away my pickax and started sliding down the volcano free style (smart, I know). During the entire descent, because I really thought I was going to die, I kept saying the F-word hoping this would save me. Eventually, friction and snow did and I stopped. In fact, I had been panicking for nothing, there was no way I was going to slide off the volcano. Apparently though, I might have escaped death, since as I was sliding down and I was going pretty fast mind you, I hit a frozen boulder but luckily the helmet I was wearing and my glasses absorbed all the impact and therefore I didn’t get injured. Afterwards, we slid down the volcano on the saucer and that was one of the most fun things I have ever done. The next day, I went white water rafting. That’s right, after having a life and death experience I was ready to throw myself back into the frying pan. This was also a lot of fun. We were nine in total, I ended being paired with a couple from New York. The guy was Irish and his name was Neil and the girl was from New York and her name was Lizzie. They had been teaching in Santiago and finally had a break so they decided to come to Pucon to climb Villarica and do some white water rafting. Unlike me though, they had already climbed some volcanoes in Indonesia so they were experienced volcano climbers.. Anyways, in one boat you had all the Spanish tourist from Argentina and Brazil and in our boat, the gringos. Since we were only four if you include the guide, we had to work a lot harder and I tell you paddling when you are going into a rapid is fun as hell but man is it tough to paddle consistently. I’d do that again any day. Afterwards, to complete my adventure in Pucon, I met up with the couple and did a bit of lazy touring which including going to hot springs. Overall my experience in Pucon was amazing and I’m super happy I spent an extra day instead of leaving a day earlier like I originally planned.
Reunited in Punta Arenas and it feels so good:
After an amazing dare I say epic stay in Pucon, it was off to Punta Arenas to meet up with my cousin Nicole who I hadn’t seen since high school and her friend Marisa from Peace Corps. One thing I have discovered is that nothing is ever easy in Chile. When I got to the airport on the day I was leaving for Punta Arenas, I discovered that apparently I had never paid for my flight reservation and therefore I would need to pay it now. To make matters worse, the airport didn’t have a credit card machine so I had to pay cash, Only problem was I did not have enough money on me so I was forced to go back into town, take money out and then go back and pay for the flight. The only good thing that came out of this ordeal was that the flight was cheaper than the one I had reserved online. After that whole mess, I told myself that things couldn’t possibly get any worse, but they did. When I was about to give my boarding pass to the lady before getting on the flight, she noticed that my backpack was a little big. So big in fact that it would have to be stowed as luggage. At this point I wanted to give her an earful in Spanish and make the point that she was the first person to make this observation despite the fact that this was not my first time flying Sky and also sarcastically congratulate her on her keen sense of observation. Instead though, I just let it go and had an uneventful flight to Santiago. When I arrived in Santiago, because that bitch, I’m sorry but she was really mean, didn’t tell me that I had to pick up my backpack in Santiago, it got left behind when I went to Punta Arenas. Only good thing that came out of this was that I was able to start a no technology challenge which I managed to keep going for a pretty long time. Once I arrived in Punta Arenas, I started to freak out a bit because, in good Chilean fashion (no planning whatsoever), I hadn’t told my cousin what my flight number was and she hadn’t either so I kept thinking that maybe she had already arrived and took a cab to the hostel we were staying at. Luckily for me, she arrived on the flight right after mine, 15 minutes later. My cousin was surprised at how cold it was, but like I told her, this was nothing compared to the winter, in fact this was pleasant. Anyways, we got to the hostel where I had reserved us a room and my cousin felt like she was in heaven. I guess I have to go to Paraguay to see where she’s coming from, it was nothing fancy, just two beds and a bathroom.. We had a late supper at seafood restaurant called la Luna (go there if you want to eat good seafood) and then it was off to bed. The next day we met up with Marisa, Nicole’s friend and headed to Puerto Natales to meet up with Nicole’s other friends.
We are off to see las Torres:
After a 3 hour bus ride, we finally arrived at Puerto Natales, the last big town before you make it to the park. We got to the hostel, met up with Carly and Jeff, who are really awesome, they are marathon runners and all around good people. Jeff’s humor though which relies a lot on sarcasm does take a while to get used to. We met up with them, got our supplies and prepared for the start of our adventure the next day. When we arrived at the park, you could already see las Torres and already it was a sight to behold. And so began our adventure which was absolutely epic. During 4 days we did the W circuit, averaging 11km of hiking a day. We were blessed with perfect weather and amazing landscapes, especially las Torres which seeing them from the lookout point was worth the price of admission on its own. We got to see many lakes that were different shades of blue and green, towering mountains, the damage caused by the Israeli forest fire, water falls and a whole lot more. The only thing that was missing was wildlife. We were constantly being mocked by ibises but other than that, nothing. I couldn’t have done it with a better group of people. We were definitely the definition of Team Awesome.
Saying goodbye is tough:
After a few more days in Punta Arenas, it was time to say goodbye to my cousin and to Chile. I’m definitely going to miss it and I hope to one day go back to this amazing country that has so much to offer culture wise, food wise and landscape wise. Chao Chile, nos vemos pronto!
Finals thoughts and impressions on the travel blog:
I would like to start by thanking everyone who took the time to read my blog, knowing you guys were supporting me made this experience even more special. It’s been quite a ride and though I wasn’t able to consistently update the blog each week and the blog ended up being very sporadic, I’m extremely happy I did it. It allowed me to reconnect with the creative writing side of me and also acted as a way to vent when things weren’t going so well. Overall, it’s just great to have a souvenir of my amazing adventure written in my prose which while it may not be perfect tells my adventure the way I want it to be told.