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marge & ian’s Travel Diary

Saturday, 14 Jan 2006

Location: *Pucon - CHILE*, Chile

Map*Pucon - CHILE* 14/01/06 - 18/01/06

14/01/06
Got off the bus in the lovely volcanic town of Pucon, obviously I was still not in the best of moods being hung over and in desperate, desperate need for some agua. Got to our hostel, with our strange hostess leading us there. She made some dig about us cancelling our reservation from two nights before due to the fact that we couldnt get a bloody bus - I didnt particularly appreciate that!

Got to the hostel where we were given the "house rules", no shoes in the house (we had to wear scabby slippers, which were washed but again for those of you who know about my feet/carpet/scabby slippers phobias, I just couldn't put my feet in them and had to have a set of flipflops for outdoors and a set for inside), no food to be eaten anywhere apart from the kitchen or outside, and the weirdest one, all windows must be closed by 10pm otherwise the alarm will go off!!!!! freaky!

All of the rules disappeared in a haze though as soon as we saw our bed...it was THE most comfiest looking bed we have had so far, crisp white sheets, duvet, 4 fluffy plumped pillows.

Went into town and had a bit of food, popped into the supermarket, which was just like walking into Sainsburys (well almost as good), the choice was just unbelievable compared to Argentina, I was in heaven. Decided to scrap going out to eat and got ingredients for some lovely pasta and pesto. Booked our volcano climb for the day after. And then finally fell into our lovely bed around 10.00pm.

15/01/06
Had a little look around the town and surveyed the volcano that we had actually PAID to climb! - nutters. I made a curry with proper spices and ingredients! which made the whole hostel salavate, then went to bed to wait for the curry farts to begin.


16/01/06
We had to be up well early for our volcano climb, it was freezing cold and it reminded me of getting up for work at home, how depressing, only for a split second though! Although at the time the alternative didn't fill me with much joy either - climbing a massive volcano!

Got to the office and got all our gear, hat, waterproofs, hardhard, crampons etc.. Got the bus to about 1/3rd of the way up the volcano to start which was a bonus! We got the ski lift partially up the volcano mainly because absolutely everyone was doing it, this cut out 1 hours walking. We looked around at all the groups and we were by far in the geekiest out of all of them with our outfits, but as long as it would keep us warm and dry and safe we didn't care.

**Margi´s experience of the Volcano Walk**

I was shitting myself from the outset as I had never even been on a ski lift before, there was no safety bar and we were pretty high up, I didn't take any pictures as I was too scared of falling off.

Got off the lift successfully to my relief. Started the walk on the snow. The first part of the walk wasn't too bad at all and I was feeling quite confident about getting to the top. It was getting more and more tiring which was still ok but then the bad stuff started to happen. The climb started to get pretty steep, which I didn't like. I was also looking at the bum tracks that people had made on their way down the volcano (as that was the only way to get down safely - I think), and they looked soooo steep and scary that I started to really panic about the descent and this was still on the way up!

Had to jump over a crevasse which absolutely shit me up because I could see right down it and was convinced that I was going to fall into it. Fortunately this guy basically pushed me over it while Ian dragged me over it. I am such a wimp.

The walk continued downhill for me but uphill to the volcano, every step getting steeper and every foothole getting narrower and almost non-existent. We stopped every 45 minutes for rests and water but this just shat me up even more because I could see just how high up we were. The walk seemed absolutely endless and about 1/3rd of the way from the top I was ready to give up because I was just sooo terrified of the height and my vertigo was making me hyperventerlate big time. Unfortunately I chose a place that was just impossible to stop at, it was too dangerous, so I had no choice but to just try my best and get over my fear.

We had started walking again, I was close to tears with fear (isn't that a band?!) when all of a sudden Ian yanked me backwards. I was just about to ask him what the f**k he was playing at when a 3ft x 3ft slab of ice came tumbling 2 meters away from me down the mountain. Everyone stopped, whistles were blown and the signal for everyone to get the f**k out of the way was given. After that I had absolutely no confidence whatsoever, if the boulder had have hit me there was no question, I would have died. As you can imagine this did absolutely nothing WHATSOEVER for my already shattered confidence and nerves. I was absolutely terrified by this point and couldn't continue for the last 20 minute climb. Ian persuaded me to continue because the top was so close now. I tried to carry on and then I lost my footing and slid only one a foot or so down but it was enough to for me to literally "freeze" with shock and terror/vertigo. Ian caught me by my bag and I was clinging on for dear life with my pickaxe. That was the 2nd time that Ian had saved me in the last 10 minutes. Everytime I tried to get a footing I just slid further and further down.

I honestly thought that I couldn't move and that is when my own "hand of god" came to help me. Finally, the guide had noticed that I was crying, hyperventelating, shitting myself and was as white as the snow with fear. He reached out his hand and literally yanked me up and guided me through the shitty "path" to the top of the volcano. I honestly couldn't believe that I had got there, I almost cried out of sheer relief that at least half of my ordeal was over.

Ironically, because I was helped by the guide I was one of the first people to get to the top which was funny considering I was lagging behind only 30 minutes earlier. Anyway at the top I REALLY didn't actually give a shit about the sodding volcano. It stank up there, and the fumes blinded me. I had my photo taken nowhere near the edge because again I was too scared. Ian then arrived and went investigating around the volcano with the rest of the other normal non-scared people. I hadn't eated all day, I had totally lost my appetite (another sure sign that I was terrified).

So that was the ascent, now for the descent. Now this part is supposed to be the part that is the reward for all the hard work. I, being my vertigoed, scaredy cat self, wouldn't slide down the volcano on my arse on my own, I insisted on going down with the guide, so while everyone else had a fab time sliding down in the ready made luge's on their butts, I was sat with the guide behind me and going down with him. I didn't even enjoy that part (although I must admit it wasn't AS scary as I thought it would be when I saw it on the way up), nevertheless I was still too scared to do it on my own.

Finally got down, past the snow, and then slid (by foot) all the way down the rest of the volcano on the volcanic rubble for about 1/2 hour. Then finally, finally I was back down to earth, I was sooo elated I could have kissed the ground, I couldn't believe that I was still alive and that I had had such a near death experience. Thank God that was over. I literally said a prayer thanking god that I was still alive.

Now I know that some of you who have done the volcano and are reading this will think that this is a melodramatic story, but REALLY I have awful vertigo, I HATE heights and for me to get to the top was a MASSIVE achievement, especially seeing as less vertigo'd people couldn't make it just due to the fact that they were too tired to carry on.

So now on to....
**Ian's experience of the Volcano Walk**

It was a great challenge that I was proud to achieve. It was a bit icy at the top but the views were great. The sulpur cloud at the top stank and burnt my eyeballs so the white bits went red. I looked like I was pissed for 3 days ...unjust really because for the first time ....I wasn´t.

After the walk, we got back to the hostel, both of us with totally burnt faces, noses and lips. We both collapsed on the bed and had a mini sleep. I felt like I had been through a very traumatic event. Eventually got my act together when Sasha and John (a couple that we had met in the hostel) came and asked if we were up for a few drinks, which we were by this point.

Went out, went to a few bars and then ended up in a real locals bar, ian and the other two drinking "Kuntsmann" beer!!!! got pissed till 4.00am and then collapsed again in a heap in bed.

17/01/06

Woke up with the worst hangover ever and it was absolutely scorching for a change - typical! I decided to spend the day in bed and try and shift it but Ian decided to go Grade 5 White Water Rafting like the nutter he is.

Authored by Ian.....
I had sort of committed to go rafting with a German guy called Nick in the hostel. He was really really keen to go on grade 5 rapids and not to be outdone by one of our German friends I said was up for it too even though it sounded dangerous. I was hoping the trip would be cancelled as there were not enough people to fill the raft but Nick managed to pursuade the owner of the company to go down the rapids with just 4 of us including the instructor.....but it was very likely we would come out of the raft on a grade 5 due to lack of weight !!! I stupidly still agreed to go...not wanting to be chicken! Fortunately, 3 Argie guys signed up at the last minute and prospects of survival improved considerably. Anyway, it was a real buzz, I will let the pictures do the talking. What a way to cure a hangover....I wonder if there are any rapids in Derbyshire!

After the rafting Marge and I went to some hot volcanic springs to relax. We stayed soaking in the minerals until 12.00 supping a few cans of beer. You can imagine the picture......well you will have to because the photos turned out shit in the dark!!!!

18/01/06
An admin day...we have to have them now and again. Booked our trip on the Inca trail, update the website for you dear friends, and caught our overnigt bus to Santiago the capital of Chile.