Valdivia is noted in my guide book for possibly being Chile's most pleasant city. I found it just plain boring. The only noteworthy thing to see is the fish market down by the river where sea lions come up to the vendors and wait for free scraps after the fish are cleaned
. And that was it for this town. A big yawn! So I made my way north to Pucon, a little town known for its outdoor adventure options based around the very active Volcano Villarica. When I arrived I had to search high and low for a place to sleep. The place was absolutely packed with Chilean vacationers and all the hostels were full. Fortunately, the locals know an opportunity when they see it and welcome you into their home for about $12 bucks a night. Not a bad deal considering the circumstances.... but not my first choice either.
Pucon is nice to walk around and the adventure outfitters are ready to sell you an excursion to do something fun. The problem is... and I was warned of this long before I ever left home... Chile is South America's most expensive country! And they are right on the mark with that one. I climbed my first volcano ever in Guatemala for $6 dollars. Here, it costs $80 or so. So, with so many cool experiences like climbing volcanoes already behind me, I decided I'd have to pass on everything. Next stop....Chile's capital city, Santiago.
Well, if you look at the map to the right, it looks like I just came right up from Chalten to where I am now. The problem with that,however, is that the roads to get up here are so bad that only a couple bus companies will use them and they charge a fortune to make the several day trip. So I went for the cheaper option which takes me all the way to the other side of the country, back up to Puerto Madryn where we had our car accident, and then all the way back across the country again to Bariloche. It's a long trip so I made a pit stop back in Puerto Madryn for a few days and then again in Bariloche. From there, it was a simple 5 hour bus ride to get across the border and another couple hours to arrive in Valdivia.