So after a wonderful, amazing, thrilling, fast paced month long trip through Patagonia, Tom and I were so ready to settle down and relax for a few months. As previously mentioned we chose Pucón, our favorite little mountain village, as the perfect spot to satisfy our craving.
We had already visited Pucón on two separate occasions and had thoroughly fallen in love with the small town lifestyle. We started our Patagonia trip in Pucón, and during our brief stay we happened upon a wonderful apartment that would be available just as we were ending our Patagonia trip. Perfect! So we returned with high hopes, uncertain expectations, and no plans. Here are a few of the things that happened while we were living in Pucón.
Fall happened. Autumn in Pucón is so breathtakingly beautiful it’s difficult to put into words.
One of the best things about Autumn in Pucón is that all of the tourists leave and its just locals. Well, locals and us. The streets were empty, the restaurants were never crowded, the rent was cheap, and the town was quiet. So quiet and peaceful. Just what the doctor ordered after a long stay in Santiago and a jam packed month long vacation.
My favorite part about Pucón is that there is a volcano. An active volcano. It smokes pretty much constantly and at night when it’s dark you can see the very tippy top of the volcano glowing. Also, you can see the volcano from pretty much anywhere in town.
I like to think it’s watching over me wherever I am :)
The woman who rents our apartment to us in Pucón likes to say that the people of Pucón are more creative and spiritual than most people because they were born under the volcano. They have the volcano in their blood.
I tend to agree with her. The number of artisans in Pucón is staggering and their works of art are as beautiful as they are varied. But not only are they an extra artistic people but they are also an extra friendly people. I think that when you live your whole life in a town that’s about five square miles with no stop lights you tend to appreciate the community, and there is a real sense of friendliness and hospitality that you just can’t find in a big city like Santiago.
Or maybe they’re just really happy people because they live in such an amazingly beautiful place.
With trees that actually change color in the Fall!! What?!?! Seasons?!?! I’m from Southern California so this is pretty exciting! Seriously.
Another perk of living in Pucón is that there is a really big, awesome lake. This isn’t one of those icky lakes with the squishy mossy stuff on the bottom (YUCK). This is one of those crystal clear sandy bottom lakes comprised of snow melt from the surrounding mountains. Way better and way more fun to swim in. Especially if you are afraid of sharks. Like I am. No sharks in lakes. I can swim and swim as much as my little heart desires with no fear of being eaten by Jaws. Awesome!
Also awesome is the fact that our apartment was right in front of said shark-free lake. So this was our view whenever we left the apartment. Which did actually become harder and harder to do as we got closer and closer to winter. It gets real cold in Pucón and we had a wood burning fire place, which was pretty hard to leave when it was pouring rain outside and the temperature was hovering around freezing. But still super cool to have seasons. Seriously!
Okay another thing that happened is that we decided to climb the volcano. Yes the gigantic one that you can see from anywhere in town. We were pretty ambitious with this adventure. I think the Torres Del Paine hike went to our heads. This was way more difficult. As in we couldn’t walk for a week afterwards. But totally, completely worth it.
We started very early in the morning. You have to start your hike around 8 am because it takes about 6 hours to go up and back down and you can’t be on the volcano late in the day because of weather issues. Speaking of weather issues it is best to set a few days aside in which you would be available to climb the volcano. The tour companies have to use a weather forecast to estimate when you will be able to climb and, as we all know, weather forecasts can be wrong. Oh so wrong.
We had a beautiful, sunny day for our climb. The air was clear with no clouds to obstruct our view. Perfection!
We went with a company called Summit Chile. They came highly recommended by our landlords. Summit Chile is run by a Canadian woman, Suzie, and her Chilean husband, Claudio. Claudio is the main guide and has been mountain climbing all over the world for over 20 years. He speaks English very well too, which is always a plus!
A word about safety (Safety? boooring, I know). This hike is really quite dangerous. This is not a mountain trail, skipping along, unicorns and rainbows type of hike. This is a crampons, icepick, struggling up a sheet of frozen solid ice type of hike. And I have to say, I don’t think anyone makes that clear to you before you go. They have a serious injury or loss of life about once a year, that being said they take thousands of tourists up every year. I guess that I foolishly thought that it couldn’t possibly be that difficult/dangerous/strenuous if they were taking a bunch of inexperienced tourists up, but I really was wrong.
My intention is not to scare anyone away from attempting the climb. As you can see we had some really breathtaking views that I wouldn’t have missed for the world. It’s just really important that you choose the right agency. Summit Chile was really the best! They have very high standards for their guides, their equipment, and their safety. They only allow a maximum number of three climbers per guide, all of their equipment is new and well maintained, they use ropes to tie everyone together for safety, and their guides are extremely experienced. In fact they are so experienced that earlier in the year when they had a tragic and fatal climbing accident on the volcano, they called Claudio to lead the rescue team.
Not to get too down on the other agencies, but the other companies take like 20 people to one guide, their equipment is old, ill fitting, and sometimes just the wrong equipment, they don’t tie anyone together, and they just don’t take the risks of the climb seriously. Claudio was very, very focused on our safety. We were only allowed to take pictures when we stopped for breaks, we were only able to stop for breaks at certain safe areas on the mountain, we had to focus on what we were doing at all times. We saw one very large group being led by only one guide and one of the women in the party slipped and started to slide and her guide made NO attempt to help her! Another tourist from a different group of climbers had to help her. Ugh! Definitely go with Summit Chile! I wouldn’t trust my safety to anyone else!
Okay enough with the danger talk, how about some pretty pictures :)
Look at that professional equipment. We look like real mountain climbers :)
Summit chile provides all of the equipment including the backpacks for carrying snacks and water. All you have to do is grab a few suggested things to eat and drink and show up with your game face on! Bright and EARLY!
Okay one more thing happened while we were in Pucón.
Oh yes. He is the cutest puppy in the WHOLE world. No I’m not exaggerating.
I have mentioned before that Chile has a very large population of stray street dogs. They are super awesome. They don’t, bark, bite, sniff at you, beg for food, or in any way bother humans or leashed dogs at all. Plus they know how to cross the street safely by watching the stoplights. Which makes them smarted than some humans!
People in Chile seem to really like having them around. In the winter they put coats and scarves on them. It’s pretty cute/hilarious!
So back to this guy…
On Easter Tom and I were out for an afternoon stroll on the outskirts of town out in the country or “Campo” as the residents fondly call it, when all of a sudden we stumbled upon this little fellow. And I’ll be darned if he wasn’t the cutest, most pathetic sight I’d ever seen. He was so tiny (only about 4 weeks old) and covered from head to paw in dirt, fleas, and who knows what else. Obviously I had to have him. I begged Tom to let me take him home and clean him up. So after a feeble attempt at finding out if he belonged to any of the neighbors, Tom relented and let me take him home. After a couple of days of pampering, vet visits, and long walks, he was all ready for a new home. Heartbreakingly, I couldn’t keep him.
But fortunately with the help of a few homemade signs around town we found him a permanent home with a sweet little 7 year old boy. And shouldn’t every little boy grow up with a dog?!?! I just wish it didn’t have to be my dog. Darn kid stole my puppy! As hard as it was to say goodbye, I’m so glad that we were able to rescue him and find him a loving family!
So there’s a few things that happened while we were living in Pucón. A couple of other things happened like a stay in our landlord’s awesome lakeside treehouse which you can read about here and a trip over the Andes to San Martin De Los Andes. I’ll write about that next, because it was a pretty cool little weekend getaway!
***AND…super EXCITING news! After a short, 3 month stint back in the States where we got married, visited with family and friends, and enjoyed some much missed Mexican food, Tom and I are heading back to Pucón and our little apartment on the lake for more fun-filled adventures! In fact we are packing up as we speak. Which reminds me, I gotta go pack. See ya!