We left Mendoza and travelled by bus through the Andes. The views were spectacular, with just a little bit of snow. We had booked the most budget seats we could but for some reason were seated in first class – leather seats that reclined and snacks and movies. This is the way to travel! We arrived on Wednesday night and were met by our friends Patrick and Trini. Patrick lived with my family in 1998 as an exchange student and when we visited Chile previously we stayed with him and his family. It was great to see him again and meet his lovely wife.
We spent a day exploring Santiago by metro, visiting the Cerro San Lucia, a former fort on a hill where there are beautiful views of the city. We climbed up to the top and enjoyed the sunshine and perspective on Chile’s capital city. We will be spending more time in Santiago later in our trip.
On Friday, we took a bus down to Temuco, where we stayed with Patrick’s parents, Benjamin and Gladys. It was so nice to see them again! Over the weekend they took us to their beautiful lake house at Lake Calafquen, where we spent the weekend and enjoyed walking by the lake, driving to Conaripe, and driving up to the lava flow from the last time the nearby volcano had erupted in the 1970’s. We love staying with friends, as it gives us a totally different perspective on the country than if we were here just as tourists.
Following this, we took a bus to nearby Pucon, where we have been staying in Benjamin and Gladys’ holiday apartment. Pucon is a holiday resort town, popular in summer for being by a lake and in winter for the skiing which takes place on the Villarica Volcano which is right next to it. Being here in early April has meant we are here before the snow and have still had some beautiful days. On Monday, we went rafting on the Trancura river. I had done this before and wanted to take Reuben to do this. We did the Alta (high) part of the river, which has up to grade 4 rapids. This was so much fun! We were all kitted out in wetsuits which we were extremely grateful for when we jumped into the water – it was absolutely freezing! The river was a little down due to the lack of rain in Chile this summer but this made the rapids more thrilling – as was the part where we had to get off the river, trek around a waterfall and then leap several metres back into the water. The next day we had big plans…stay tuned for “Team Olson vs The Volcano!”