One long detour

Trip Start Aug 09, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Chile  ,
Thursday, January 3, 2008

Really playing catchup here...From the Rio Gallegos in the south, caught a bus to Comodoro Rivaddavia, then one to Bariloche.  Got off and right away decided I didn´t want to stay there.  So caught another bus to San Martin de Los Andes.  Was gonna do some mountain biking there, but knee was really acting up so decided against it.  Crap weather the whole time.  South Africa finally put an end to the Rugby World Cup.  The area is supposed to be great for flyfishing, but it wasn´t season for a couple weeks. And not much to do in this ski town if you´re not skiing, so headed off to Pucon, Chile.

The border was kinda cool because its right on Volcano Lanin so you just circle all the way around it.  Pucòn is plesant with lots of outdoorsy touristy stuff going on.  The volcano in Pucòn is Villarica and is really pretty from town.  I guess whenever it erupts the lava always flows to the other side, so Pucon is this really nice town, while on the other side is this crap place that keeps getting decimated.

Debated climbing the volcano because of the knee, but decided to do it anyway.  Up at 3:30am to start the climb up.  Full gear too.  Crampons, ice pick, the works.  The whole thing is just covered in snow and ice.  At first, the walk was difficult.  Even though it was gradual, it was pitch black so you couldn´t see where you were stepping and the snow and ice offered lots of different kinds of landings for your foot.  Beautiful orange glow coming from the top of the volcano.  I was with a group which was okay but we kept stopping for little breaks, at which point I´d lose my body heat and the sweat would turn to ice.  Maybe halfway up, we stopped to put on the crampons, and needed to start using the ice pick like a crutch because it got really icy and steeper at the top.  Thats when the weather really picked up.  Wind blowing super hard, clouds rushing through you, and little visibility.  We were going to have to go really fast to make it up to the top, so the guide made the slowpokes stay put and three of us carried on.  He didn´t want to keep going (they tell you at the beginning that there are no guarantees, if the weather is bad you wont be able to go to the top), but I was lucky because there were a couple of hardcore dudes there and the three of us did.  Gotta say, at the top it was an incredible feeling.  The wind was so strong.  The last bit, we were walking above and through the clouds leaning all the way back at a less than 45 degree angle to the ground and the wind was keeping us up and pushing us.  A great accomplishment, but the funny thing was, we couldn`t see anything.  Normally you can look right down into the cone, see lava, smell sulfur, etc.., but all we saw was white all around, the lip of the volcano, and a dropoff.  The wind was deafening, you couldn`t hear yourself screaming.  The whole way down our guide was telling other groups to turn back, so we managed to be the only group to climb the thing that day.  The descent was pretty cool - we just sat on our rear and slid down the volcano!  Ice pick in hand for an emergency brake.

Really, SM de los Andes was when I started getting on a cooking frenzy.  Have been keeping up on that and learning to cook other foods since then.  Headed out to Concepcion, next.  Went to a hospital to get the knee checked out.  Still was in a lot of pain.  Don`t want to rehash things, since I`m pretty sure you guys know everything on that topic.  But I`ve definitely seen better hospitals.  Everyone working there had this demeanor towards me, since I was gringo, that they were especially sorry that I had to be there.  Kind of strange.  One weird thing happened - some rich girl got in an accident and all her entire posse, friends, family, adults, lawyers, etc... even news crews, showed up either bawling or pissed while she made a huge fuss out of it when it was obvious she was fine.  Meanwhile, the rest of the poor hospital got put on hold and the workers super stressed.  To get somebody to check out the knee took something like 5 hours.  One doctor in the whole place.  And no rooms - so that was the first time a doctor has given me an injection in the butt with 40 witnesses and the whole hospital cheering on (but trust me, the stuff I had to witness was a lot worse).

Took the train up to Santiago.  Nicer scenery around train-countryside than bus-countryside.  First impressions were good.  It was hot and big.  I hadn`t been anywhere big or hot in quite awhile.  As you know, I´m doing all the knee business and ended up working at a hostel for two months to cut back on costs.  Worked pretty good too.  Was pretty antsy for awhile because I really didn`t want to be stuck in one place for that long, but what can you do?  So I got used to it.  Saw a much better doc at a much better place here.  Part of the PT was climbing the mountain in the city, Cerro Cristobal, every day.  Its amazing just how polluted Santiago looks from up there.  The city doesn`t really have a whole lot going for it to set it apart from other major cities.  Its just big with normal big city ammenities.  Celebrated Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years in the area.  They were all very very cool.  Completely different kind of vibe when you`re in one place, with the same friends for awhile, and really get to know an area.  That is cool, but I was still glad to be getting on.  One funny story I remember is, we were out one night at a club and the group 2 Unlimited put on a surprise show.  Really funny and crazy.  They`re from middle school days and, believe it or not, you guys are familiar.  They play their music at every sporting event in the states.  ¨Yall ready for this....¨`d recognize it.  It was pretty funny though.  Would rather not do a 2 month detailed recap on Santiago.  It was cool.  Doc said I could leave, but take it very easy on the knee for awhile.  The kneecap is still not aligned right, and it cracks and stuff, and there is still some pain.  But no more offical PT, and besides my visa runs out in Chile in a week.  So I went to Valparaiso.

Which is where I am now.  Its all hilly and bohemia and stuff here.  So, Valpo is interesting and unique when you are in the hills (lots of multicolordness, narrow staircases, secret alleys and stuff), but if you`re not in that area Valpo is pretty smelly and dirty.  The beach is not that specail, but if you go north there are lots of nice beaches.  Probably do a couple more things here in Chile before heading back into Argentina.  Will have to get used to new accent and slang all over again.  Chileans speak the worst spanish I`ve ever heard.  But they drink some pretty good wine...maybe those two go hand in hand.
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starlagurl on

That climbing story was awesome. I hope your knee gets better soon.

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