4 November 2011
It is late and I should be sleeping, but my head is crowded and it will not allow the thought of rest. Earlier this evening I was sitting on the porch of Mamas y Tapas in Pucon, drinking my first Pisco sour and watching people move through town between the branches of a young magnolia tree. I fear I may be fined or imprisoned for writing that first sentence, as I have been in Chile over two weeks now and having not tried Pisco sour yet I’m sure is a crime. Music was playing in the background, providing nice company for my meal. A song came on and the chorus was ‘que lindo sonar, a sonar no cuesta nada’; ‘how beautiful to dream, to dream doesn’t cost anything’. I’ve spent so much time lately talking about dreams that it seems really fitting for this song to be playing while I sit in a pensive mood. I cannot count the times over the past month or so when in speaking with someone I have declared that we must all carry as many dreams as possible, so that when we are following one and it doesn’t work out, we can simply turn and follow another. I am walking in one of my dreams right now, and it feels so often like I am walking in a postcard. Every moment I turn around in this country I am awestruck by its beauty. I have fallen in love with Chile.
Since life presents everything in the company of its antithesis, this arrival in paradise was preceded by a bus ride from hell. I left Quintero sick and sleepless, and was dropped off by the micro in downtown Vina del Mar at 9pm. Too ill to understand the driver when he tried to give me directions to the bus terminal three times, he finally asked if anyone was going there. Fortunately a man said he was and I could follow him. Through the streets of Vina we went, and it’s a good thing as I never would have found it from what I thought the driver had said. It felt like miles, but in reality was probably six blocks. My back was aching, the pack felt like it had doubled in size, and I had a fleeting thought that this man may not really be going to the terminal. I dismissed it with the thought that I had to trust him at this point, and we did arrive there. The terminal was crowded, the bus was supposed to come in somewhere between slots 7 and 12. Great…it’s not as if you could move through the crowd to see the buses and their placards denoting destination, it was just too dense. I placed myself somewhere in the middle and tried to see each new bus as it arrived. I couldn’t hear the announcements on the loudspeaker over the din of the crowd, I couldn’t move, I couldn’t breathe through my nose and I couldn’t stop coughing. It was the first time so far I really wished for a travel companion. Time continued on as it tends to do, and soon it was after 10pm, the departure time for my bus. I decided if it didn’t show up right in front of me that it wasn’t meant to be, I was to weary to deal with anything else. I must have looked pathetic, for a nice young Chilena girl walked up and asked me if I needed help! I said yes, I’m trying to find the bus to Pucon, and miraculously she replied that she too was going there, and that the bus came in to number 5. I followed her over, kissed her cheek and thanked her immensely as we got on the bus. For the following 12 hours the passengers mostly slept, though how they managed this over my coughing and sniffling I have no idea. There was another mishap involving a bouncing bus and trying to use the bathroom…but we don’t need to talk about that.
After recovering for a day with a much needed shower and a lot of sleep, I began to explore Pucon. The city itself feels more European than South American, and is clearly a tourist hot bed. It’s in a beautiful setting, with the snowcapped and smoking Volcan Villarica presiding over the town like a god, determining whether it will continue in its affluence or lay buried in ash. There are tour guide companies seemingly on every corner and about every type of high adrenaline adventure you can imagine. For me the town itself is a bit too sterile, however the surrounding areas are incredible places for dreaming. I hiked in National Park Huerquehue, rode a zip line through the canopy and over rivers, hiked to lakes and waterfalls and soaked in hot springs. Today I spent hiking to Salto el Claro, an 80 meter waterfall just outside of Pucon. The walk started as a steep uphill on a gravel and dirt road, past rolling green fields of horses, sheep and chickens, surrounded by forest and with a view of verdant mountains, some snowcapped, in the background. I went past lot after lot that was for sale. In my mind the land was mine. In my dream for today there was a small house, chickens and sheep and vegetables. I was sipping tea on my porch, staring at snowcapped mountains and gently holding the hand of someone who loved me, who I loved. When I wander, I dream of settling. When I settle, I dream of wandering. Either way, the dream is sweet, my life is rich. In Pucon, the people are friendly. The air tastes good. It’s a place I may stop at, if I did not have the burning desire to continue south, if I didn’t have more dreams to walk through.
Click below for pictures of Pucon…the caption of Saltos (waterfalls) somehow translates to ‘jumps’ and I can’t get it to change…