Sky-high Bananas

So it’s our final few weeks in Pucon. We had an unexpected but fantastic arrival of the sickly Van Gough (VW combi) and his two travel companions Kelsey and Gui. As the weather slipped into autumn these two injected the biggest beam of French-American sunshine. I don’t think it was possible to have a single interaction with either of them without being left with a smile. And Kelsey’s take on a British accent was nothing short of a masterpiec

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After a week of rain and some serious cabin fever, myself, Marcus, Jamie (fellow Brit, a local in Pucon and quite the incredible chef) and Ste, set out to hike one of the national parks, Huerquehue. Finally on the first blue sky day for over a week, we set off early on a Sunday morning to climb San Sebastián. We had varying reports of the hikes endurance level, and Ste was left questioning his hiking boot purchase when that crazy dane Marcus rocked up in vans. It’s 5000 pesos entrance (£6.25) and you can  either catch the bus or use the car of a local – cheers Jamie! Following an the intial hour-long steady up-hill climb (with our regular pauses for outfit changes, cigarettes, water, photos and just general time wasting) we reached an open meadow. On the one side we could see Volcan Villarrica glowing bright white on the horizon, and the other the looming summit of San Sebastián. Thanks to the recent rain, all surrounding peaks were packed with snow and made a photographic dream-scape.

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We continued through forest, pausing at breaks in the trees to catch a glance at our increasingly elevated view. The trees thickened, the incline increased dramatically and it was a case of root climbing the slippery vertical mud walls to reach to next plateu.

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Finally was the large boulder scramble across the narrow ridge to the final inclined plain that lead to the summit. As we ascended, the snow deepened, and trekking with three lads meant an envitable snowball fight.

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Keeping up the rear with my two bamboo canes, I paused to avoid the crossfire. Suddenly my back foot gave way on the ice beneath it and I crashed down the side catching myself on a rock. The sheer sides of the thin ridge we were traversing suddenly became very apparent and the movement of legs went from confident strides to jelly stumbles. As Ste helped lower me onto another icy ridge my nerves got the better of me, I went full stalked deer mode and couldn’t move another step. Ste tried to reason with me, but the mental block had formed. We turned around and headed back. I am somewhat convinced there is some seriously faulty wiring in my brain as after 5 steps back towards home, the fear fog lifted and I spun back towards the summit, stomping happily past a bewildered Ste. A final climb on the ice and we caught up with Marcus and Jamie to enjoy our snowy banana filled lunch, with 360 degree views of lakes, waterfalls and ten volcanoes.

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The departure of Gerrit, Sabina and Madison gave the hostel hearts temporary blues, as they all headed north the week before us. Our misery was short-lived however, as along came a little bundle of Scottish beauty to distract us from our heart ache. Only 10 days with this pint sized packet of fun, but we became the kayak Queens (despite the upside down paddle board incident, and the cookie incident – let’s just say Sarah’s attempt to get a cool picture on a paddle board was seriously compromised by my own and David’s careful coaching that yes of course the fin faces upwards…)

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Soon enough it was out time to fly. Sad goodbyes, particularly to the owners girlfriend Kris. My sassy hostel wife and we had gone on our weekly shopping dates to restock the hostel, a brief taste of normality and ‘coffee’. Our taxi arrived and it was off to the bus station. As we waited my Pucon crush Armund, the most hansome French – Indian sky diving instructor hopped on his bus and bid us farewell. Steve comforted me for the loss of my love – he was just so handsome.

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