Back in Time........and Back to School!!

Trip Start Sep 04, 2012
Trip End Aug 02, 2013

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Flag of Chile  ,
Friday, March 22, 2013

One for the Science-minded ones......our flight from NZ actually took us back in time, setting off at 4pm on Friday 22nd March and landing at 11.30am....on the same day!! Not only weird, but DESTRUCTIVE!!!! Wide awake when you should be asleep, not hungry at meal times, knackered during the WHOLE DAY.........JETLAG had reared its ugly mug and it WALLOPED US for the first two or three days in Santiago to be honest!!! We eventually got our body clocks somewhere where they needed to be and saw a bit of Santiago. Our hostel only had a couple of rooms on our floor so we were prepared again to muddle together some kind of communication with a foreign couple and as it goes, we had to do just that, struggling to understand a couple who were from....BURNLEY!! Not easy ha ha!!! We didn't see the CBD, but you could tell it was quite a developed city....and MASSIVE, as it goes. It's surrounded by the Andes and one thing which was really noticeable was the smog. Kinda similar to Hong Kong. We had a wander to a couple of peaks to get a good look at the place (Cerro San Cristobal and Cerro Santa Lucia), got lost during the former (obviously) and had a wander around a recommended route, taking in some historical sights along the way (old buildings, cathedrals, a small palace etc) and that was pretty much that here.
An 11 hour bus journey south to a place called Pucon was next up. Pucon is what I would imagine a typical 'ski-resort' town to look like (which it technically is in winter I suppose). Again, it's quite developed, normal food and 'some' English is spoken in the hostels and bus terminals. We're being eased in to South America me thinks. Its not cheap either....a pile of washing has just cost us near to a tenner!!! It better come back bloody clean!! Anyway, arriving late, getting lost (again!) and then all of a sudden in the dark you hear "MICHELLLLLE JIIIBBBBS".......our hostel had found US!! Result!!!! It was in Pucon where we picked up exactly how we had left NZ! Glaciers and volcanoes were all the rage in NZ, so why not combine the two and go up a volcano with a glacier on it! Surely not!!? YES!! (Not before a lazy day on a stoney beach listening to a man shout at ducks though....hhmmm)!
Volcano Villarica towers above Pucon and at 2847m, totally dominates the place. It is one of only five volcanoes on the planet known to have an active lava lake within its crater and we were goin up it! Fully kitted out with crampons, boots, hard hat, ice pick and plastic sledge (I'll get to this later!!), we set off with our group of about twenty or so. A short ski lift dealt with the first 400m, and we were left with 1000m to climb ourselves. The vast majority of this was on the ice and with National Park orders that you have to reach the summit by 1pm (I don't know why), the pace was steady. It was steep to peer down the volcano as we got higher and higher, but although there has been a couple of fatalities a year ago on the same trip, we never felt in any danger. We got to the top bang on 1pm as it goes.....and WOW!!!! Firstly the crater......UNBELIEVABLE!! It was exactly how you would expect a crater to look.......smoking, almost perfectly round, colours that you would associate with burning rocks! Just amazing! Icy ledge, wonder if anyone has ever slipped in!!? We couldn't actually see the lava as it was too deep inside the crater, but the smoke and the sulphur smell was enough!! And to top it off, the view at the top was one of the best we've seen so far aswell! We didn't want for anything - blue lakes, mountains, other volcanoes, huge glaciers! The nuts! Simple as that!!! Photos, a wander round the rim and a chill for half an hour or so, then the descent down the thing.
That's when the comedy started. I thought the guides were joking when they said we were sliding down but no...we were! We each had a little plastic plate-sized thing that was attached to us. It was OUR SLEDGE!! Kala went first, easing herself into the first bit. I got a bit silly, flew down, cracked into the back of her and sent her off the track!! I'd just nearly kicked her off the side of a volcano!!! (Must try harder!). Anyway we got to the proper slopes, listened to instructions on how to use our ice picks to 'brake' then one by one we whizzed down! (The braking thing not really working!)! Kala's cautious approach (to everything) went right out the window!! She flew down!!! The quivering nervous wreck I saw when I got to the bottom with her hat half hanging off her head can only be described as a 'shambles' ha ha!!! Yet she had two more to do! A little jaded, she tried taking the slower option by not using her plastic bit. After an unsuccessful plead with one of the guides because she was terrified he politely listened, straightened her hat and then pushed her down, shouting 'YOU LIKE' in the process!! GOOD MAN!!! With the ice done, we just wandered to the bottom to finish. A tough day to be fair, but one of the best!!!
Now it was my turn to be frightened!!! BACK TO SCHOOL!!! Kala did her old trick of making me set my alarm for 7.45am (after i'd suggested 8am) only to tell me to wake her at 8am when the alarm actually went off!! I COULD HAVE HAD 15 MORE MINUTES..!!!!! JESUS!! Ha ha!! We're having a crack at learning a bit of Spanish to help us for the next 3 months. Our teacher is INTENSE!!! 'Mi nombre es Paul. Michaela y yo viajamos por Sudamerica por tres meses"....maybe it's working though!!
We've also done a trip to a National Park called 'Huerquehue' which I still have no idea how to say but was nice (ish) and soon we go to Argentina and head even further south. We're not done with Chile yet as we hope to come back and see some of the north during the latter part of our South America leg........
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Chrissie on

Tried to just post, so if you get two comments it's because pad went funny....hope you are both well? Fab pics as usual, loving your blogs....Evie sends a big cuddle to you Kala, she has grown loads and a little monkey lol....will message you soon. Take care xxx

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