Saturday, February 23, 2013

Angol, Pucón and Learning to Hitchike


After traveling by bus from Santiago, I awoke at 6:30am to catch the 7am bus to the mountains outside of Angol. Aware that a new adventure awaited me, I felt super excited and a little nervous. I had directions in Spanish that were confusing, yet knew I would arrive at my final destination, a gathering in the mountains where a community of people lived, camped out and shared food and good times. I rode the rickity bus up the rocky and eventful road close to Nahuelbuta National Park, for I thought I could walk to the gathering from there. When they told me to depart the bus, another man was walking in the same direction. Christian works in the park as a ranger and I felt comfortable with him because he knew the way to the park. We communicated pretty well, so I thought, and he told me he would lead me to where I wanted to go...

Cristian and I trekking several miles to Parque Nacional Nahuelbuta

We walked for about 5 miles, up and down the hills to the park. I understood from him that I would be walking another 2 miles after he got to his destination. Once we arrived at his destination, we communicated clearly that I was lost. Little did I know, I was walking the the wrong direction all day, and had missed my bus stop 20 miles before. I was super hungry and had only a can of tuna and a little water with me. Oops!

As he was explaining this, a man approached him to ask advice about the park. He soon learned of my situation, and invited me to breakfast with his family. Awesome! Rodrigo, his wife and two daughters fed me an awesome meal, and invited me to hike with them in the park. We got along really well, and they invited me to have a BBQ. They were super prepared and had tons of food and beverages. I spent the entire day with them, and they treated me like a son. It was really a blessing to have met them. Thank you! The next morning, they were leaving in the direction I needed to travel, and offered me a ride the 20 miles I traveled in the wrong direction the previous day.

View from Piedra de Aguilla

Nahuelbuta with Cristian and Family

They dropped me off at an intersection where I was supposed to depart from the bus. With 17 miles to travel by foot and hithchike, I felt super energized and excited for what was to happen, even though my left foot began to bother me as I walked. After walking half a mile, I heard a car coming and stuck out my thumb and smiled in hopes for a ride. The couple stopped their car, and told me they could give me a ride a mile further to their farm. As a retired police officer and local to the area, he told me I could hitchhike safely and use his name if I needed to. I walked another half mile, began feeling the pain sharpen in my foot, yet felt an overwhelming sensation in my body that I was going to be taken care of. I heard another car coming, and stuck out my thumb. No go. I kept walking a little further, and stuck my thumb out at another car. This car stopped. I looked inside and saw three smiling young people dressed in bright colors. I knew immediately they had the same destination. They invited me in and said it was my lucky day. Awesome! They generously drove me the rest of the way, which would have taken more than a day to walk. We arrived at the gathering, and I was welcomed with open arms.

I camped out and lived in the country hills outside of Angol for 4 days. A clean river flows through the area where you can bathe and drink water. There are lots of trails to hike and tons of trees to find shade. The community of people there are really amazing, super generous and appreciative of everything - and really living.

View of Nahuelbuta in the background and the land of the gathering in the foreground

My Camping Spot

The Kitchen

The friends I met there taught me about small towns in the south, and taught me how to properly hitchike, which is common and safe here in Chile. A friend, Lillo (pronounced Leo) from Angol invited me to hitchike with him back to Angol and spend the night with his family. His family welcomed me with generosity, feeding me a ton of food. Thank you so much!

Lillo from Angol, Mauro from Argentina and I hitchike from the gathering to Angol

Temuco and Pucón

The next day, I took a bus to Temuco to meet a friend from couchsurfing named Merylin. She met me at the bus station and introduced me to Temuco that evening. We had a great time enjoying a concert her friends were playing. She invited me to stay in Pucón, a small touristy own surrounded by a lake, mountains and a volcano. She rents a room from a nice woman named Maria. I stayed with them 5 days in Pucón. Thanks Merylin for eveything! You are super generous and we'll keep in touch. I also spent time with other amazing friends I met at the gathering outside Angol. These friends - Felipe, Maria, Cristobal and Catalina are musicians that are really awesome. They play reggae music on the beach and streets to make money to eat, drink, clean clothes and save for university. I was surpised by how much money they made. We spent a lot of time together, and I will stay in contact with them. Thank you for everything friends!

Catalina, Cristobal, Maria and Felipe - Great friends!!

Beach in Pucón

View of Volcano from Pucón
Merylin and me at Ojos de Caburga

Ojos de Caburga


I left yesterday morning, 1-22, en route to Valdivia, a coastal town in Southern Chile. The bus that left from Pucón was full, so I had a decision to make. Wait another day in Pucón for another bus, or practice my hitchiking skills. I decided to hitchike. I walked to the gas station at the edge of town and began asking people for a ride. The second person I asked, Gabriel, said he could drive me about a third of the way. Awesome! He and his wife, Silvana, are super nice and we talked the hour drive. They were on their honeymoon in Pucón. They dropped me off north of Temuco at another gas station near the main highway that runs through Chile. I felt confident I would find another ride. I saw other travelers trying to hitchike, sticking their thumb out at cars passing by on the highway with little success. My friends taught me to ask people at gas stations, because they can talk to me to see I am a good person, and I can see they are a good person. 2 minutes later and the second person I asked said yes! Sebastian and Silia drove me another 3 hours to Valdivia, where they were traveling to as well. I slept the entire way as the jammed out to American rock music.

Upon arrival in Valdivia, I called my friend Andrea from Pichilemu, who grew up in Valdivia. She happens to be here the same weekend because there is a festival this weekend to celebrate the founding of the city. We arrived at her parents home, and they took me in like a son. They have other cousins in town for the festival too, and they are super nice too. They are feeding me like a king, and told me to make myself comfortable as if it were my home.

Jorge, Angélica, Andrea, Claudia, Alejandro and their baby Santiago. We had lunch near Macera Island

More amazing people! Chile has been a really great experience. Over the next month, I plan to keep traveling south all the way to Punta Arenas, which is the southern tip of Patagonia. Thanks for following along. Until soon.

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