Local Time: 11:02 AM
Time Zone: UTC/GMT -4 hours
How far did we travel this week? 1080 miles
How far have we traveled on our journey so far? 1338 miles
How did we get around this week? This week, to travel way down south, we had to take a charter bus from Valparaíso for 12 hours down to Pucón!
What was the most interesting place we visited this week? We took a day down to Pucón to visit the museum and home of a Mapuche family. As I mentioned before, the Mapuche are the native people of Chile who are currently trying to preserve their environment and become an independent recognized people within the state, otherwise known as autonomy from the state.
This Week’s Travel News: Our bus to Pucón was going to be a challenge. After taking an eight hour bus up to La Serena I knew that the bus would be stiflingly hot and humid, and impossible to get a full night’s sleep. I had braced myself, I was wearing cool clothing and jackets – I was prepared for the arctic tundra and a tropical paradise. I brought snacks, water and, most importantly, toilet paper. These long-ride buses have toilets but do not have any toilet paper, and I was not prepared to wait another four hours for a bus stop!
I had one advantage though: most everyone in the bus was from our program. I felt sorry for the four other Chilean passengers as we all piled on, chatting, laughing and generally having a great time. I actually didn’t even realize how quickly time would pass, because before I knew it, it was four o’ clock in the morning and I was cross-legged on the only flat non-seat part of the bus, eating chocolates and laughing with friends. We had managed to open up a window (despite the attendant’s baffling insistence that we keep the bus this hot) and we were all thoroughly the feeling of late-night cool air washing over us. I actually slept for about four hours that night, I wasn’t sitting there twiddling my fingers, or anxiously checking the time on my iPod, I simply curled up on my seat, and passed out. It was one of the most relaxing and fun 12-hour bus rides I’d ever had!
Weather Tally (enter the # of days for each weather type):
Partly cloudy: 2
What is the air temperature right now? 57 degrees
How was the weather this week? Pucón had some impressive cloudy days. Even when we couldn’t see the sun, the sky was filled with billowing and crashing clouds that could snatch your attention away. When the sun did peek through, it immediately warmed your bones and had everyone pulling of their coats!
What animals did we see this week? We saw a variety of weird birds. One small bird had me convince it was a small, more docile falcon. Another bird looked like an Ibis, it had a bafflingly long and curved beak, long neck and slender body. Besides that we also saw a bunch of small blue/green lizards that I’ve grown so fond of!
What was the coolest thing we saw in nature this week?
On our second day in Pucón, our group was paired with an enthusiastic tour guide who shuffled us all over the region to show us some of the most beautiful spots this place had to offer. We stopped at one of the most mystical places I’d ever seen: Laguna Azul (Blue Lake). Now I’ve seen blue lakes, my first year at college I went on an amazing kayaking trip to a place called Waldo Lake, a volcanic lake that was bluer than anything I had ever seen and crystal clear all the way own to the bottom. But what Waldo Lake didn’t have was blue waterfalls and water so clean you could drink it straight from the lake.
This Week’s Nature News:
One of the trip’s cultural days was a visit with a Mapuche family. We got the chance to sit down and try our hand at some traditional Mapuche crafts as well. Some people roasted piñones, which are a small pinecone-like nut they put in a huge rectangular metal box over a fire and swished around until they crackled and browned. Others went and cooked traditional tortillas. I decided to sit down and try to weave a basket from palm fronds. I had done art for so many years before. This should be a piece of cake, right? Wrong! We had to take incredibly small strips of sticky and surprisingly rigid pieces of palm and somehow work them into a perfectly symmetrical shape. Plus none of this craft uses any glue of sewing, the entire structure is held in place by your small and precise weaving that locks it all together. By the end of the exercise, I had managed to weave a small, messy oval platform that didn’t even cover my whole palm! I gained a lot of respect for that craft that day, and I’m more motivated than ever to try and make another one!
What languages are spoken here? Only two languages are spoken here: Mapudungu (the language of the Mapuches) and Spanish.
What type of money is used here? Chilean pesos are used here.
How much does a bottle of water cost? About 1,000 Chilean pesos or $2.50.
What was the best meal this week? The best meal this week was a traditional Mapuche dish. We had piñones, salad, an odd doughnut shaped bread and for desert: fruit topped with roasted flour!
What activity was the most fun this week? I signed up for a class to go zip lining over the Pucón canopy! It was a thrilling ride, and I loved clambering up and up into the tress platforms, and then sailing over the river and land, getting a rare birds-eye view.