Sad, but not tragic. A forced opportunity. Maybe even a fortunate adaptation…fuck it. Let's make taco salad.

Pucòn

As the bus pulls into Pucòn (~24,000 people, ~750 feet), the volcano beyond the lake at the edge of town…fuck…words escape.  There have been many towns where I’ve wondered why I’m supposed to be visiting here.  This one leaves no question.

As I jump off the bus, I can see my hostel just down the street.  Sweet.  The Foot appreciates this level of efficiency.  As I come in, they are turning a group of young Israelis away and try to usher me out as well until I let them know that I am “The Casey.”  “Oh!!!!!  The Casey!!!  We waiting for you!!”

The two middle-aged (fuck, am I middle-aged now?  I don’t really feel that way, but how else would you define me???) ladies running the hostel are both speaking to me at once, rapidly (goddamn Chilean Spanish -forgot for a week how difficult it is to understand) explaining where I am sleeping, how things are set up, who my roomies are, how the volcano tours work, where the forks are…  I need a nap after running the Españolish gerbils in my brain through the wringer.  I inquire about getting some food to make some dinner and one of the hosts (literally) grabs me by the hand and walks me two blocks down the street and begs the store to stay open for me.  (They do.)  After I explain the situation with The Foot, the other host runs a few blocks to her mother’s house to grab “The Magic Cream” that will surely heal me enough to carry me up the volcano.  Fuck it, I’ll try anything at this point.

I’ve been in some cool hostel situations before, but the mix of people and the size of the crowd feels absolutely perfect.  I’m in a room with three Germans and two Norwegians.  I had dinner and drinks in the kitchen with another Gringo, two Chileans, a hot dude from Costa Rica, an older Israeli couple and two Spaniards.  I made way more pasta than necessary, but made friends for life.  Good shit.

I decided to “be good” and not take The Foot out to the hot springs, so I wandered around the town for a bit.  Forty eight hours ago, I remember thinking, “Holy shit, I think San Martin de Los Andes may be the most beautiful town I’ve ever seen!”  As soon as I got to the lake today in Pucòn, I said, “Fuck me!  Pucòn is the most beautiful town I’ve ever seen!!”  Not a bad stretch of travel, I do say.

Up way too early (well, I’m still on The Lost City Time, for god’s sake) at 6 am to suit up and catch the bus up to the volcano, I am still a bit nervous about how The Foot will handle the climb, but could you even consider not climbing after seeing this??:

 

We make the 30 minute drive to the base of the mountain…and are completely fucked.  100 kph+ winds are literally blowing us off the volcano and they are coming straight down from the top.  Normally, the ski lifts are running and can take you up ¼ of the way, but the winds are absolutely ridiculous and Ski Lift Dudes never made it out of bed.  That makes a difficult 4 hour climb uphill into a 5+ hour climb straight into the wind.  With one foot.  And, even if we reach the summit, the swirling winds may push the toxic volcano vomit into our faces, which means we can’t look into the crater…which is the whole fucking point of this journey.  I have climbed plenty in the past 5 weeks, but if I’m climbing this goddamn volcano, I want to look down and see some motherfucking lava, not be told it’s too dangerous to get that close.  Fuck this. As much as I wanted to do this, I lobby on the side of bailing out.

 

In the end, 3 tour groups of 22 actually made an attempt to summit that day and only about 10% of the people in those groups got a look at the crater.  I made the right decision.  I think.

After returning to the hostel with our tails between our legs, I drank a vat of Yerba Mate and then decided I had to get out and at least get some form of activity for the day.   The Norwegians in my room wanted to rent bikes…I’m assuming to ride around town and have a chill day…I am quite wrong.  We head to the bike shop and, after not riding a bike for about 2 years, I end up on a grueling 50 km trek upwind (both ways…what the fuck!) down the highway and over ugly and bumpy gravel roads.  I hate you, bicycle.  But, I did really enjoy my time with Gøril and Susanne and hope to get a chance to visit Norway later this year.

I also got a chance in Pucòn to catch up with Miha and Jerneja again and relive our travels since the big trek and The Foot Incident.  We consumed mucho vino, a big pile of meat, and they dumped me at the bus station drunk as a skunk.  Got to put Slovenia on the 2011 itinerary as well.

Time has run out in Patagonia and the Lakes District, but I’m determined to return when I can spend much more time.  Some of the most amazing vistas I have ever seen.  And I still have a score to settle with that damn volcano.

 

 


One Response to “Pucòn”

  1. Susanne says:

    Love it!! 😀

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