Friday, January 1, 2010

Chile: Pucon and Christmas


Location: Chile, South America

Rundown: For Christmas bypassed the freezing temps in Northern Michigan for the summer south of the Equator in Chile. Food, hiking, volcanoes, and penguins ensued...

Flew into Chile a few days before Christmas. Although heading south of the equator where summer was reaching full swing, we still were going to be in the Andes much of the time. We packed for warm to insulate our thinning Caribbean blood!

Stayed only one night in Santiago before heading south by train and bus, both of which ran like clockwork and were very comfy traveling.


Pulled into Pucon, about 8 hours south of Santiago late in the night, and found ourselves the next day in a tiny town shadowed by Volcan Villarica, a sleeping giant in the distance, often obscured by the clouds. We spent a day bobbing around the tinier towns around Pucon, scooted in the cold, clear Lago Villarica in a colorful boat, sampled the local cusine and libations.

Tons of good Chilean wines! Everything similar price to 2 buck chuck!

Cheese! Real, aged cheese! A Wisconsin girl's dream! We were pretty floored by the assortment of goodies in Chile that just aren't available in Colombia!

Christmas came around and we were prepared! We packed in all sorts of Christmas goodies, including presents, santa hats, and fixin's for Polish mushroom soup and pierogi! We had arranged to stay in a cute little cabin overlooking the lake just outside of town.

We relished in the quiet of the Chilean countryside, which contrasted with the noisy Colombian cacophony we were used to.

Cooked up a great Christmas dinner...

...and had presents in the morning!

After a few days of Christmas R&R, we decided that our butts needed to be thoroughly kicked.... so we climbed the volcano outside of town!

Talked to some guides in town, then left early in the morning the following day with a group of other climbers.

We were outfitted with snow gear, helmets, ice axes, and crampons! We tried hard not to step on each other's feet!

We hiked up the scree easily, but once we hit the snowfields we donned crampons. Once above the clouds the wind blew hard and we felt the full affect of our thin tropical skin! Yikes!

The higher and colder it got, the icier and steeper the slope became. We hiked up in long lines, zigzagging up the open face of the volcano.

Even with crampons a few of our group members fell and our guide made the call to head back before the summit.

Although we were a little bummed about not summiting, we had an awesome time sliding on our back sides down to the bottom of the volcano. It was fast and long and we steered with our ice axes. We returned with soggy pants!

Spent a few extra days in Pucon. Rained most of the days, but we hit a hike in a local national park. Came back pretty wet...

A little rain never hurt anyone!

But our shoes sure got muddy!

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