We took a rest day after climbing the volcano to relax and explore Pucon a bit more. We actually thought that we would be a bit sore the following day from ´the big climb´, but surprisingly we weren´t.
Since we had only booked the first couple of nights ahead of time we had managed to arrange to the move to the newer hostel for the reminder of our time in Pucon.
First thing for us to do was to move our bags and things to the new hostel -YEAH! This place was a couple more $/nt and we were sharing a bathroom, but it was well worth if for the large spacious brand new kitchen, beautiful rooms, and no looking over our shoulders to make sure that the warden wasn´t there watching us or telling us to change the speed of the fan in the kitchen - that´s right, that happened. Level 1 fan is not strong enough when you are cooking Quinoa & trying to talk to people. We did feel a little bad when German (the owner) was putting our bags in the van to take us to the other hostel and we said goodbye to all the very nice people we´d met at that hostel. It felt a bit like we knew a secret that we weren´t sharing with them & that we were leaving them behind!
After moving to the new hostel we spent the day walking around town, drinking cafe con leche, eating cake & ice cream and checking our emails in one of the many cafes in town (all of which our new hostel was a 5 minute walk from!).
The next day we went rafting. We went to the agency we had booked thru for 10am and waited to get picked up by the group that was actually operating the rafting. We then drove in a group of vans for about 30 minuts outside of Pucon to our 'launch spot'. We all got suited up on the side of the road and then walked the short walk to the river where there was a safety breifing that last about 10 minutes all in spanish. Then Dan & I got a 2 minute english verion - where to put your feet in the raft, how to hold your paddle, what to do if you fall out of the raft etc. We were then split into groups and we were lucky enough to be with a guide who spoke english. We started by moving along slowly practicing the commands - paddle forward, backwards, paddle hard, hold on, get inside the boat, or jump one side to the other. Then we were off. There were 3 raft boats in our group and a one-man kayak which was our 'rescue boat'. The rapids were classified as a level 4 locally which is apparently a 5 in North America. I'm not going to lie - I was a little nervous before setting off. It was loads of fun though, and not really hard work or scary once we got going. We went thru some big rapids, a few smaller ones, there was water everywhere - lots of 'hace frio' from the group! We were back at the agency by 2pm and just in time to get some of the very tasty salads that Elementos was starting to sell as part of their cafe. They were amazing salads (especially the garlicky buckwheat cilantro one!) and we bought enough to last us a couple days. We made sure they had the right sizes down for bikes for us the following day. They were borrowing an XL bike for Dan from another agency.
The following day we headed over to Elementos again to pick up our rental bikes. The bike that they had borrowed for Dan was a little outdated, and the frame on mine was a little longer than I would have preferred. Dan's so tall & I'm so short that getting the right size of rental bikes is proving to be a bit of a challenge. None the less we then headed out on what Dan said would be a 30km bike ride which was to include a stop at a Mapuchi village, Ojos de Caburgua waterfalls an then turning around at Lake Caburgua which we had been told had a nice beach.
We rode to the edge of town and rode for about 15 minutes on paved roads and then turned off onto a dirt road on the outskirts of town. It was a pretty short ride to the Mapuchi village which as it turns out isn't a real village, but a couple rows of restaurant huts and a traditional tent. They were cooking meat inside the traditional tent, and the restaurants were just starting to cook. We had heard this was the place to get cheap delicious empanadas and so we picked a place and ordered a couple. They were freshly made & tasty. We ate & ran. There wasn't much to do here - especially after we saw a couple of local men wheeling a crying tied up lamb in a wheelbarrow back behind the row of huts. They crying stopped a few minutes later. I shouldn't judge because everyone needs to get food somehow, and I eat meat, but I don't like to see those things.
So, off we rode, along dirt roads, up some hills, more dirt & dust & thankfully not too many cars since most don't like to slow down when passing people. Then more hills, some steep hills, more dirt, some consulting the GPS on Dan's phone, the map - looks like we were on the right path, but we had sure been riding a lot further than we thought we would be. After riding for about 2.5hrs we were at the waterfalls & wondering how much further it was to get to the lake?! The falls were pretty & it was nice to be off the bike for a little bit. It was a short walk thru a picnic area/campground to the falls and there was even a place to buy popsicles & ice cream right by the falls. After walking around the falls for a bit we decided to get back on the bikes.
After what seemed like a lot more riding and my knee getting pretty sore we finally arrived at the main road. And a sign that said it was still 4kms to the lake still and 14kms to town (clearly Dan hadn't been told the correct distance to the lake!). We decided to head back to town. Bike riding can be pretty tiring - especially on dirt roads with lots of uphills & stones! The ride back was all on a paved busier road. And a fair bit of downhill too which was nice. Even nicer when I was riding on the flat close enough to Dan so that he was cutting thru the wind for both of us. One the way we stopped at a larger grocery store on the edge of town to grab a few supplies for our next couple of days where I found peanut butter!
Next up is our first ever overnight trek. I´m pretty sure Dan is 4X more excited than I am. Possibly a long day of bike riding wasn't the best idea before we were heading out for 3 days of hiking with our packs, but hopefully it will be ok! Wish us luck!