Saturday, October 10, 2009

co´d id by doze

I have just settled into my hostel in Punta Arenas - a small town right down near the southernmost part of Chile. It sits on the Straits of Magellan which explains the ruddy big statue of him in the main square. I hope to cross the Straits on Sunday to set foot on Tierra del Fuego, which has always held an aura of mystery to me as one of those far flung places like Timbuktou.

After I left Santiago I bussed it down to a town called Pucon. Pron. Puke-on - it´s unfortunate as it is a delightful little town which has the still active Villarica volcano sitting on its outskirts. There are numerous signs around town which tell you what to do should the volcano erupt. (Strangely ´Panic Hysterically´ didn´t feature.)

By the time I arrived here the bad cold I had contracted on arrival at Easter Island continued to make a Phlegm Phactory out of me and I feared this would jeapordise my Villarica climb.

It did. I couldn´t make it to the top. I gave it a bloody good go - but right from the start my legs felt really weak, and by the third stage (2,400 metres) I had to concede defeat. There was still 400 metres to go but the guide estimated it was another 2-3 hours. The volcano was covered in a fresh fall of snow, and we needed crampons almost from the start.

I should have stopped at the second stage but I stubbornly forced myself to continue. The view from stage three made it worthwhile.

Coming down was a blast as the trek company provides you with what looks like an adult nappy. Made of strong nylon and leather, it is attached around your backside and you slide down the volcano on your arse.

I stayed three days in Pucon before catching a bus 5 hours south to Puerto Montt and immediately wished I hadn´t. A dreary dirty town and the overcast grey skies didn´t help. Fortunately I was only here for one night in order to carch a flight to Punta Arenas.

While here I need to gear up for the 5 - 6 day hike in Torres del Paine. I´m really looking forward to this and i am desperately hoping this infernal cold will allow me to complete the hike.

Will let you know as probably the next chance I have to blog will be afterward in El Calafate.


santiago facade

3 locks

santiago sky

santiago building with gargoyle

gargoyle close

villarica from pucon

the volcano up close

me near the base

villarica stage 2

pucon reflection

must be a very small meal

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