Well, I have officially survived my month of travelling! Monday we returned from our trip to Pucon which is located about 10 hours south of Santiago. I had heard that the south could be a bit unpredictable with weather conditions but of course with our luck, this past weekend was exactly as predicted on weather.com; Rain the entire weekend. Que lata. (What a bummer). But we made do, still had a good time and came home in one piece...more or less. Some highlight for me were:
The naturaleza (you guessed it, nature) was gorgeous; even covered in fog and clouds, the rolling hills of evergreen trees and just general vibrantly colored vegetation was overwhelming (made me think of Ireland!). It made me realize that this was the first time I had actually seen real forests and plants in Chile since we live in an urban center and all of our trips have been taken in the winter or to the desert. Certainly a welcome change.
The owners of our hostel recommended a dip in the natural Termas de Pozones (Hot springs) as a good rainy day activity. We hopped on a bus which literally had a plastic sign in the window saying "Destinacion: Termas" and shared our one our journey with sopping wet school children who were homeward bound after finishing class for the day. (Note: the music was particularly excellent; an ever so artful mixture starting off with Paul Simon and ending with great 90's hits, don't worry, Britney was not forgotten). We arrived at the termas and spent the afternoon relaxing, eating chocolate and conversing with the other vacationers. Let's just say, we made a lot of "amigos".
3) Ojos de Caburgua
Day 2: We had run out of rainy day activities so we decided to brave the weather and hacer trekking (go hiking) anyways. We headed to Ojos de Caburgua which consists of a forest, a lagoon and some gorgeous cascadas (waterfalls). Despite the weather which was pesimo (awful) we still had fun and the naturaleza was gorgeous!
But the views weren't the only entertainment, there was signage everywhere in broken English and what I found to be rather abrasive (and grammatially incorrect) spanish. The one below translates to "Mr. Visitor, demonstrate you education and culture, don't vote garbage".
4) My current physical state
After our delightful hike through the wilderness, we returned to the hostel to drink some tea and do grocery shopping. I bent down to put on my shoes and when I came back up I felt a twinge in my lower back and suddenly it became very difficult to move. Yup, like an old woman, I threw out my back. So, unfortunately for me, the rest of the weekend was more low key. Advil and I have gotten very close and I now have a new gel of sorts (equivalent of vick's rub I think) thanks to the owner of a booth at the artisan's fair in town who took pity on me. I was trying on some wool leg warmers (which I bought! see below) and lamented my debil (weakened) situation to the shop owner; she promptly dragged me to the back of her store where she procured said gel and demanded that I lift up my shirt. She massaged the gel into my back and afterwards I felt much better, much looser. In the end she gave me the gel for free, told me to apply hot vinegar to the sore spot and tied a piece of yarn around my waist to "hold things in place". Not sure about the yarn but the gel has been working wonders, I'm still hobbling around a bit but it's getting better every day. I'm learning patience is a virtue...which I do not possess.
Shout out goes to Jill Smith, I had dark chocolate for the first time in Chile the other day and obviously immediately thought of you! Can't wait to overindulge with you when I get back!