Causing havoc on the plane

Trip Start Oct 02, 2005
Trip End Oct 01, 2006

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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

It was an eventful start to our trip to Puerto Varas, not only had Mich told the air steward at boarding that her name was not Michael but "Michelle El Presidente" (in respect of the current elections in Chile) but on being asked what drink she would like, asked for a cola. The air steward simply raised his eyebrow and said "What?". "A cola", she repeated and since this was obviously not having the desired effect started pointing in his direction. Smiling he said you shouldn't really say that because it means faggot. Oops.

Jules made his own impression on the cabin crew by debating what flavour sweet he would like, obviously keen for the plane to leave on time, I'm not sure how air traffic control would take the excuse "sorry we cant leave yet a passenger hasn't decided on what sweet he would like", the air stewardess using her own initiative grabbed a handful of sweets and dropped them onto his lap to delighted cheers from Jules, Mich and Ange.

Apart from acting like Japanese tourists and taking numerous photos of the Andes mountains thankfully the remainder of the flight past without further incident.

We checked into our hotel at Puerto Varas where we were staying in one of their on site cabins on Lago Llanquihue, a 250 square mile lake, overlooked by the flawless snow capped cone of Volcan Osorno at 2,660 meters and Volcan Calbuco at 2,003 meters. Having settled in we set about exploring the small German settlement town in search of the tourist office.

Armed with a variety of tour leaflets we stopped for lunch at Dino´s, where I made the very silly error of putting what I thought was tomato sauce on my steak sandwich only to take a bite and find it was hot sauce. I then spent the next 5 minutes scrapping the sauce out of my sandwich. Damn the red bottle.

Feeling very full we headed to the supermarket for the alcohol shop. A couple of bottles of wine, 6 litre and a half bottles of beer, bottle of rum, bottle of vodka, a couple of bottles of pisco sour, a couple of bottles of brown chocolate looking liquor, some mixers and plenty of crisps later, we had the nights alcohol supply ready for drinking, all for around 30GBP. All we needed now were the playing cards.

Having slept in, we all very lazily got up the next morning, and whilst Andy went to complain to the hotel reception for not having brought us the extra chair or towel requested the night before (really why have a 6 bed cabin and only supply 5 chairs and 5 towels), the rest of us set about getting ready for a late lunch in town and were all pleased to learn that in order to appease Andy and put an end to his complaining, breakfast would now be included in our stay. Result!

A long and lazy lunch was had at a gorgeous organic restaurant called Govinda´s, which then lead to walking about the very small Christmas market in the hope of burning off some calories, booking 3 tours for the following 3 days and more drinking in the cabin that night.

We were up bright and early the night morning in order to get our free breakfast in before being picked up by our guide Amanda and Juan Pablo, who was enjoying his first day with the tour company and whom Wendy immediately fell in love with his eyes, for half a days trekking on Volcan Osorno.

As we drove to our first stop a crater in the side of the mountain, Amanda explained a little more about the area we were staying in and we were all rather excited when we spotted a fairly large group of llamas by the side of the road.

The crater, obviously just a hole in the ground with seemingly no bottom was fairly impressive, but what I found more interesting and a lot funnier were the number of mosquitoes attacking Mich´s legs. Hurrah they had found new blood and my legs were safe. As Mich moved around the crater trying to find away of escaping them they simply followed her, drawn to the taste of foreign blood. Eventually they also found Jules's legs and whilst Mich and Jules tried escaping to slap on the "Off" that Andy had reliably brought, the rest of us were thankful for having worn trousers.

Back in the van we drove a little way back down the mountain to the start of the trail through the Valdivian rainforest. It was a fairly awesome walk, immensely helped by both Amanda and Juan Pablo´s knowledge of flora, and you couldn't help but be drawn to the magnificent Volcan Osorno. As the walk progressed down to the lava run (a much less scary version of the one by Volcan Antuco) the sky cleared of clouds and Osorno was revealed close up in all its glory. Naturally we all snapped away, no doubt capturing the exact same photographs, but we could not believe our luck, the park has more than 200 days of rain a year and we happened to be there on a beautiful clear one.

We headed back down to meet the van and Amanda asked Ange and Mich, who were at the front of the group whether they wanted to walk an additional 15 minutes down to the Petrohue river and along to Salto de Petrohue, since it was such a beautiful day they jumped at the chance. 5 minutes later as Amanda admitted she wasn´t quite sure of the path but knew it was that way I started having doubts. As we followed no direct path we ended up at the river which was undoubtedly gorgeous, backtracked a little and then headed off down another way holding branches aside to simply pass, ducking under tress, clambering over others, walking across narrow logs and narrow shelf like paths that fell straight down to the river. We eventually emerged leaves in hair but giggling like kids at the entrance of Saltos de Petrohue a booming, frothing, very fast moving waterfall over basalt columns. The falls combined with Volcan Osorno and Volcan Calbuco in the backdrop gave it a very surreal, picture postcard feel and it was all very unbelievably impressive.

Sad to leave the falls we headed back to the cabin where me and Andy headed into town, hoping to find a battery charger for my camera (stupidly I had left mine in Santiago - I'm still kicking myself for doing that) and the others either hung around the cabin or collapsed on the beach.

Back from the shops empty handed I headed to the stone beach for a couple of hours of sunbathing and shivered when Jules rushed into the icy cold lake. An hour and a bit later I finally convinced myself that I to could get in the lake and 3 minutes later was back on my towel freezing cold but feeling completely exhilarated by my dip in the freezing water.

The night was spent watching the sunset from the very posh lake side restaurant, Club Yates anticipating our next tour, a trip to Chiloe to see a Penguin colony.
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