Willy Wonka in the Lake District

20 05 2008

Posted by: Laura

Sleeping on a bus is an acquired skill. At this point, we have spent 294 hours on transportation (buses, planes, and ferries). Many of these have been night buses. Generally, Chris gets the fun job of being my pillow. He loves this job. If we are lucky and the bus is not full, we each get our own two seats and I curl into a little ball. This technique gives you less cramps in your neck, but your lower extremeties fall asleep. After an 11 hour bus ride from Valparaíso, we arrived in Villarica in the Lake District of southern Chile. For some reason, the overnight trip made my ankles and feet swell, so that I couldn´t fit them into my Chacos. Chris decided to start calling me ¨porker.¨ Feel free to send him mean emails.

The Lake District, a popular vacation spot for Chileans, consists of a series of smaller towns, deep blue lakes, and volcanoes.  We visited the towns of Villarica, Puerto Varaz, and Petrohue. We took a few hikes around the different lakes and had picnic lunches while watching the ducks and other birds. You can climb the volcanoes, but you need a guide and some serious equiptment such as crampons, ice picks, trekking poles, etc. Since we climbed an active volcano in Guatemala, we decided we don´t need to climb every one we see.

Our guide book doesn´t have a map of Villarica, but the town is not that big so we weren´t worried. However, after dinner one night on our way back to our hostel, we got lost. (No, it was not MY fault.) But Chris found a Chocolateria, so we went in and found shelves of delicious looking chocolate, cakes, and pastries. The owner insisted that we try almost everything in the store. I mean everything. He took out two forks and even gave us samples of all of the cakes on display. I tasted the dark chocolate and immediately said I´d like two. Chris tasted it, and ordered six bars. We also bought a pastry called Bomba de Chocolate (a chocolate bomb), how can that not be good? We left the store feeling full and finally found our hostel. 

We have been impressed with the variety of geography in Chile. We passed through hours of deserts, then found ourselves surrounded by georgous lakes and mountains. We are trying to get to Puerto Natales and Torres del Paine National Park in southern Chile.  However, this section of the country is only accessible by boat.  Many travelers take the Navimag, a four day cruise past the fjords of Chile. This route generally runs around $500.  We really like buses. In typical South American logic, the fastest way to get from the Lake District to Puerto Natales, Chile is to travel east to the other side of Argentina, then south to Rio Gallegos, Argentina, and then cross back into Chile. This journey includes about 40 hours of buses.  We hope the movies are in English.  

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