After a good while spending more than I was earning I had to shut myself away for a while and DO SOME WORK. So I moved to a lovely wee town called Villarrica and found some cheap digs.
I fell right on my feet at the Don Juan Hostel, but it won’t suit everyone’s taste. It’s basically a place for Chilean old folks to take short breaks, so the people that run it put on a good show and put them up, feed and drive them to attractions around the national park. Nothing too strenuous, this isn’t a radical tube riding crowd, but Chilean people of the generation that are staying here are kind and funny, they like to get together and dance and I’ve been a witness to a few colourful shindigs while I’ve been here. In fact I think I’ve enjoyed this more than I would have if I’d stayed in a standard ‘party’ hostel, these people seem to know how to party well enough.
So, Monica and Juan (assisted by the multilingual Ronnie) have given me a large loft room for the equivelent of 10 pounds per night, free WiFi included, so it’s been lock down time with only one trip out to the Thermas Geometricas in between. I am now tidying up blog entries I hadn’t uploaded pictures for and getting everything ship shape so that I can forget about work for a few days. I’m off to the mountains.
Here in Villarrica there have been a few highlights. The Travellers pub which also has Juan as it’s patron serves great international food and beers, the fine lakeside promenade, El Rey de Marisco where they are enthusiastic about seafood (although the quality wasn’t up to the enthusiasm it’s worth it sometimes for the joie de vivre) but I have tended towards the 2001 cafe where the locals enjoy a hot dog and a beer.
On the subject of Hot Dogs, the Chileans nipped over to Europe in the early 1800’s to nab some people to populate the sparsely populated southern regions of the country. I’m assuming that they targeted the people they thought most suited to the gorgeous landscape, so Germans and Swiss arrived with their love of fine beers, quaint houses and – hot dogs. In the pictures adorning this page you’ll see an example of one of these hot dogs. This example (which didn’t survive for long) was a simple ‘italiano’ which had chopped tomatoes and avocado as a thick quilt for the reclining sausage. You can get a few other flavours, but the ‘completo’ is a must try with Saur Kraut as well as mayonnaise weighing that wee little weener down. The one in the pic cost around 2 pounds, I found a place in town where you can get two for just over a pound and we’re talking top quality. I should know, I’ve had a few.
So, let me do the maths, 10 quid for a room, enough hot dogs to feed a horse for a quid, so you can live cheaply here. It’s also possible to enjoy the other end of the scale with some nice restaurants like the Yacht Club, Chile has it all.
On our way around the Thermas Geometricas we came across a number of old steam engines. In fact there seem to be quite a lot of them so I snapped pictures of a few – made in Lincoln were beauties. I found some reference to a town on the coast near of, Carahue, that apparently has quite a lot of them dotted about, but no reference as to why. I’ll keep digging, or shovelling, or whatever it is that they did.
Addictions. I have been trying to road test a new addiction as it’s time. The old tried and tested love of booze is getting tiresome, I walked past a pub today and thought only of the fact that I’d feel too crap to make it out to the highlands tomorrow if I drank merely a few pints with accompanying cigs, so when I spied a healthy addiction to get my paws on I jumped at it.
Drinking Yerba Matte is a habit most enjoyed by Uruguayans and Argentinians. The uruguayans being so in love with the tipple that they carry it around everywhere with them. What does it comprise of? Let wikipedia enlighten you.
I bought a nice little gourd which I promptly left on the Santiago Metro. I am now using the flowery gourd bought by my lover much to the amusement of locals. Not only is a gringo drinking matte (odd) but he’s drinking it out of something that looks like it has been made by Laura Ashley. I’m making some kind of Yerba statement and I know not what it is, let’s go with it and see. I like the ritual of it, it is apparently healthy for you and it’s like having a Chinese tea set always at hand. I fill up my flash when I’m off out, top up the mate and voila, cactus tiffin for a break or two.
Manana mountains, or at least some fresh air, I need exercise after being cooped up for the week.