Happy New Year to all!!! We finally made it to warmth and sunshine on Saturday and are in a place called Pucon in the northern part of the Lakes District. It is on the edge of a huge lake next to a massive, active volcano called Vila Rica. Pucon is the activity capital of Chile so we are off forest canapy swinging tomorrow, three km of absailing through the air like chimps, woopee!
We had an incredible New Year to remember and spent the day climbing the 2,800m active volcano that dwarfs the town. We were kitted out in helmet, waterproof dungarees, anorak, snow boots, bright orange balaclava and wooly hat and given an icepick to stablise ourselves, and off we went to make the 1,000m ascent. It took about five hours to get to the top and we entertained the four Dutch people in our group with Boney M songs on the way. Everyone knew the words to By The River of Babylon, including the guide, so we shook the mountain with our song!
The walk went from being very steep and rocky to deep snow as we zigzagged slowly up. When we reached the top, clouds of smoke were bellowing out and the smell of sulphur was overbearing. We could see the whole crater but unfortunately no magma because of all the smoke, although you could hear it bubbling away. The views were stunning as it was such a clear day, we could see five volcanos from the top. It was like being on top of the world.
The trip back down was somewhat quicker and brilliant fun as we were given an botty protector to slide down on. Some people had skis. The slopes were like hard black runs. Then we were shown how to control ourselves using our ice picks and set free to slide nearly 1,000m down. Ric managed to bruise his left buttock galloping on a horse a few days ago so he had to glide down on just the one cheek! Everyone was laughing their heads off and kept launching themselves at the snow in order to ensure maximum speed. It climaxed in a race down the final part of the slope. Everyone got very competitive and in to position ready for the whistle. Ric got off to a flying start with the intention of being first down but ended up getting stuck behind a mound of snow and came a reasonable second. I came a pathetic last due to the fact that I span and ended up going down backwards, head first!
In the evening we met up with the Dutch people we had spent the day with and had a delicious dinner. There were New Year fire works on the beach at midnight so we all grabbed a bottle of cheap fizzy wine and headed down, in the pouring rain. The fireworks were great and everyone was oooing and ahhhhing and the atmosphere was very lively, despite the rain. We ended up in a bar with a really good DJ playing and everyone shaking their bootie. Everything is slightly blurred from there on but Ric and I decided to leave and walk back to our hostel and got lost on route and ended up in a locals bar where we took to the dancefloor, in a manner which seemed to shock the other revellers. I think Ric was twirling me in true disco style. I think we were in bed by about half three which by Brighton standards is rather poor. However, it was a truely memorable day and we feel pretty ropey today and awoke craving a fry up. Omelette and fried chips filled the gap.
Best wishes for a great year for all!
H and R xxx
XX Hayley has worst sun burn than Scott of the Antarctic, despite being covered from head to toe in protective gear and with factors fifty sunblock on the only exposed area.