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Santiago de Chile & the New Years, Pucon

semi-overcast 24 °C

Hola everybody! Greetings from across the border!

We left Mendoza and Argentina behind on thursday, December 29 at night, and arrived in Santiago de Chile on the 30th, after many hours spent on the bus and some more hours spent at the border. The bus ride itself was horrible. Ten minutes after departure the bus broke down and we had to wait for a replacement, and again, the new one broke at the border leaving us stranded for hours.

After finaly reaching Santiago we found ourselves a hostel near the center of town.
Santiago is the capitol of Chile. Nothing special to do there. Very similar to BA or Mendoza only cleaner and more organized. Also most people there wear rock and metal bands' T-shirts. So far the best city we've been to, because it's a city that has the mentality that we like with all the music and stuff.
At our hostel we met - of course - some Israelis, and obviously, because we're awsome, we hit it off. We decided we want to find a party at night together but eventualy we lost them and met instead, while walking on the street, three beautiful chillian girls that took us to a great party that only we seemed to enjoy, because we couldn't understand what the band was saying.

The next day was New Years eve. We all went to the city to find a cheap supermarket and buy us some food for another of our famous BBQ's. We ended up with thirteen people, a vegeterian, and a whole lot of dead cows. It being the new years and us being for the first time (for me at least) in a non-jewish festiivity, we were all exited about finding ourselves a good New years party! We didn't. We instead, found ourselves surounded by every drunk and homeless in Santiago, hugging us and wishing us a happy new year. I kissed Nir. Very romantic.
In Israel, on our independence day we have a 30-60 second fireworks barrage, and we all marvel at it, at it's length, and thought, and the planning of everything. Here, come midnight, it was a 20 minute barrage! AMAZING. Five million people in the street celebrating the new year. Absolutly amazing. Never seen anything like it.

The next day we left Santiago for a small town in the mountains called Pucon. Next to Pucon is located a dead volcano called the Villarica (pronounced Via-rica) covered in snow at the top. So of course we have to climb it. The town itself is a pure tourist town. Everything is more expensive than anywhere else that we've been to so far, but very picturesque. Looks exactly like the ski resorts in the movies. We rented a cabin for a few days, also, just like in the movies. We cooked for ourselves, just like in the movies. And while digesting the food, siting down and talking, we felt the quake, just like in the movies. Not to worry, if you've heard of the earthquake, you already know it was a 7 point something on the Richter (Andy Richter?) scale, but it's origin was a town 200 km away from us, so all we felt was only a small shake. Our bird fell, though.

This town we're in has many extreme sports attractions. Treking, volcano climbing, paintballing, hydrosurfing, rafting, snapling (?) and more.
The first attraction we did was waterfall snapling. The five of us, five more people, and two guides, went to the starting point of the whole shebang. We walked at first not really sure what's going on, and realizing that we're being taken through this sort of jungle. The most beautiful place I have ever seen. We snapled (?!?) with divers' wet suites to keep the body temp. from dropping in the freezing water. We paid to scale three amazing waterfalls and did just that. We walked, and scaled and crossed the stream all the while. They say quiet waters run deep. Well, so do loud waters. Very deep.

Today is wednsday. The wheather outside is beautiful, and an even better one to climb a live volcano that keeps smoking.
Just to get some words out of the way - I CLIMBED A FUCKING VOLCANO! excuse my french.
Now that we got the honnest part out of the way let's get back to the subject at hand.
We woke up early in the morning, and went to the tourist agency where we signed up for the trek to climb the volcano. The volcano is covered in snow and is nearly 3 km high. The first part of the climb I could've paid around 50 pesos and ride the cable-car to the real starting point. Most people did just that, but I like to think of myself as not most people, plus I dont like cable cars. Feels like you're hanging in the air and about to fall. So I took the long, hard way up to the meeting point. To tell you the truth that was the hardest part of the entire trek because of it's steepness. The rest of the way was slow and cumbersome, moving in long zigzags all the way to the top. The view while climbing was absolutly stunning. The sky was completly clear, and we could see the entire valley stretching below us, with giant lakes that don't seem to end, and far away to the north, other active volcano's could be seen. Now, the thing that kept my mind going on the way up was something that my CO from basic training once said to us, before going on one of our long night marches, "Even a thousand mile march starts with one small step". The whole time I couldn't help but think of my army days, and no matter how hard it was back then, the thing that kept me going then, and now, was the view. The tallest mountains we used to climb were, obviously, the hardest, but we always got to the top. The view, and the well deserved rest was always worth the whole march. A volcano's maw looks like a giant toilet. Seriously. No magma. Although the guides said that in March lava can be seen.
Ok, I have to confess. Not just the view from the top kept me going today, but the way down too. We slid the entire snowy part, all the way down, on our asses! Villarica (pronounced Via-rica) is the world's biggest bob-sled. Words cannot express how much fun sliding down a four, or five-hour climb, in one hour is.
Now for those of you waiting to see these next words, here they are. I had no ring to throw in. Sorry.

On saturday the 8th, we're going to wake up early in the morning, and catch a bus to a small town south of Pucon called Osorno on our way back to Argentina. From Osorno we will take the bus, and cross the border to Bariloche and back to Argentina.

Now one more thing. Last september I went by myself for a few days up north and ended up in some beautiful places in the Golan. Few of you know though, that I wasn't completely alone. I had a rubber Ducky with me the whole way that kept me company. Since then I was planning to take that Ducky with me here and take photos of it doing extreme sports. But I forgot my companion at home, and only last night I was reminded of him by someone who did know about it back then. So in order to fulfill my dream, I have purchased a wooden ducky in one of the markets, and soon you can expect to see many, many pictures of a silly wodden duck on tall mountains!

Posted by Son_of_Axe 09:40 Archived in Chile

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