The Villarrica volcano has dominated our views for the last two weeks and as impressive as it is it is time to move on and start our journey south. Pucón has been a lovely town to stay in and gain a grasp of the Chilean way of life.
Spanish is the first language and not one we are very good at. To try to help with this we spent a week studying at the Lingua Plus language school. Karin, our teacher and the school owner, was patient, enthusiatic and kind. Both of us made rapid progress and now can understand more and communicate much more effectively. It was hard though and learning a new language as an adult presents many challenges not least mixing it up with French (the only language I have a working knowledge of) on a regular basis.
Our week finished and we decided to stay in Pucon for another day so we could attemlt to ride up the gravel road towards the Volcano. This was tough! After the turn off the highway the road ran for 10 km (the last and steepest 5 on loose and rutted gravel) and the gradient averaged 8%. Izzy (aged 7) wanted to try to ride on her own and managed a brilliant 6 km and 500 m of ascent on her 20 inch wheeled Isla bike. I would like to say we managed to ride all of it but alas we had to push for a few hundred metres as the gravel was just too loose.
At the end of the road we parked our bikes and took one of the hiking trails across lava fields from the 1970 and erruptions. Succession was taking place and slowly life wastaming over what would have been a barren landscape. Nature treated us to basking lizards, beautiful flowers, buzzing bees as well as magnificent old growth forest and all that goes with it. Most impressive though were the views of the volcano and the evidence of the impact it had on the landscape for all around us were volcanoc rocks and collapsed lava tubes.
This was a hard ride but we needed it to try and shake the lethargy from our limbs and establish the daily routine of touring again. It is going to be a shock to the system but as we descended from the mountain and back into Pucón we realised that we had done what we could here and to stay longer was pointless (except to contine to sleep in a very comfortable bed).
Patagonia here we come…..