Today began with a leisurely departure and a 200 mile drive, featuring the Pan American Highway, a two lane motorway that looks a bit like the original M1 between London and Birmingham, for those that can remember.
That motorway has changed a lot from the days when, as a student stunt, some of my contemporaries painted a pedestrian crossing across the motorway near Watford Gap. That sort of prank could still be played, in complete safety, on this quiet highway. Once you leave the highway, unless you are heading to one or other of a handful of sizeable towns, you are on dirt/gravel roads.
As the motorway, a toll road, is the only surfaced road heading north/south, none of the usual restrictions apply, so cyclists and walkers frequently occupy the hard shoulder, if not the road.
But on the motorway we might have been virtually anywhere, with rolling hills, woodland and pasture, but little by way of habitation. Rural mid-Wales comes to mind.
Even the service station was modelled on the central European style of petrol station with attached café, where we enjoyed coffees and croissants.
But the Black-faced Ibises and the Southern Lapwings in the fields would give away the location to any ornithologists.
It was a blue sky day apart from a little fog over Lago Puyehue. Very hot by the time we reached Pucón at around 2 pm.
Grietzen welcomed us into Hostal La Tetera, another of the 'Backpackers Chile' recommended hostels. We have a 'cosy' (ie small) double room with an en suite bath. Perfect.
Grietzen recommended a 5 km stroll around Pucón, which we ambled around. Most of today's pictures are from that walk, apart from the first two, taken from our lunch bench in Villarrica, in front of a rare tractor and our view of its eponymous volcano.
Volcán Villarrica features on a few of the images. It erupted in March and has only just reopened for climbing. Sue fancies going up, but the £85 it would cost would be wasted on me.
It has been hot and dry for some time. In fact we've not seen any proper rain since we entered Chile over three weeks ago. And this in a place where everyone asserts the weather forecast as being 'unpredictable'! Just like the English Lake District, with whose residents we now sympathise with regard to their current flooding problems. All this fine weather makes it a bit hazy, so the 250 volcanoes that Sue says can be seen from Volcán Villarrica may not all be visible.
At the start of our walk around the town we met Thomas, last seen in Aguas Calientes. We hadn't expected to see him ever again, but another dinner appointment was fixed. Thomas is struggling with cash machines that limit him to the equivalent of £150 per transaction and charge him £5 for the privilege. It seems that unlike in the UK, Pesos are hard to get hold of in Hamburg.
The 'sandy' beach was enticing. We took off our shoes and socks, intending a paddle. "Ouch, that's not sand, it's ash. Hot ash." So I gave up and took a promenade route but Sue persisted, going down to the lakeside before taking off her shoes and paddling the length of the beach. "It would be a cold swim" she reported.
Later, the cemetery provided good views over the town, from a tall figure of Christ on a high promontory.
Dinner with Thomas at Trawén was very tasty but, in this place that has been likened to New Zealand's Queenstown, rather pricey.
Rest in peace, Laurie, we were thinking of you today.