Whew, it wasn´t easy to find an Internet cafe in Pucon, but we finally did, so here goes the latest update.
So, ayer (that´s yesterday for those not fluent in Chilean yet) morning, I finally managed to find out what happened to Alex (my cousin for those who don´t know). Turns out that he got altitude sickness on Machu Pichu and wound up in a local hospital… but more about that later. He finally made it to Santiago at 3am in the morning but went straight to the hotel where our meeting was (although we were supposed to be staying in a hostel).
I actually went to the hotel in the morning to drop off my stuff since we had an extra night to spend there, but wasn´t aware that he was there at the time (I found that out a bit later). So, I kind of missed him. Afterwards, I went to an Internet cafe and show him an email telling him to get back to me to arrange to meet up.
I got some breakfast which was actually quite a challenge. While there were a ton of restaurants and cafes, it was impossible to actually order anything without any knowledge of Spanish. The little 3-page dictionary that I ripped out from my guide wasn´t much help either. Ultimately, I managed to get a hot dog which was good enough to carry me over for a bit.
I went to check my email and saw a message from Alex. Evidently, his cell phone is working here and he was sending me text messages all along. Unfortunately, I never got a single one. I shot another email to him telling him to meet up at Hotel Espania (our group´s hotel and where he was staying) at 5pm, and after waiting for another 20 minutes without getting a response from him, left the cafe.
Unfortunately, I left my guidebook in the backpack that I dropped off earlier in the hotel lobby (since my room wasn´t ready yet), so I wasn´t entirely sure of where to go. Based on my vague recollection of the map, I strolled around for a few hours visiting most of the neighborhoods and just checking out what was happening.
Santiago is a really green city with a lot of awesome parks and places to chill out on a sunny day. I also managed to get into the more shady part of the town with a market and tons of street vendors all trying to sell you everything and anything. I guess a gringo means mucho pesos to them (eh… how´s my spanish after 3 days?).
Without even noticing the time pass, it was already 3.45 and time to go meet Alex. I checked my email and saw several angry messages from him. Turns out that he wanted to meet at 3.30 and was waiting for me at the hotel.
I hopped the Metro but for some reason missed my stop 5 times. I know, it´s hard to believe that anybody can be that… well, you know, but it was just so damn weird. I went into the wrong direction twice, got off at the wrong stop twice, and took my connection train into the wrong direction once. I got to the Hotel at 4.30pm and the receptionist told me that Alex was waiting for me but left 5 minutes ago. Missed him again!
I ran to another Internet cafe and told him to meet me at my room at 5pm cause I wanted to take a shower. Turns out later that he was sitting in the same cafe two booths away checking his email at that same time.
Anyways, I went back to the hotel, took my backpack from the lobby, went to the room , saw his backpack, and went to take a shower. Finally, Alex came in, so we met.
A few minutes later, we went down to to a husting-and-bustling diner and ordered some dinner and finally had some time to discuss what happened.
Turns out that during his climb on the 2nd day, he started feeling pretty nauseous. Fortunately, it went away in the morning. A few days later, though, after the climb, he started feeling sick again. He went back to the hostel and started throwing up. Worrying (for a good reason) that he caught something, he called a local hospital and they dispatched a doctor to him.
About half an hour later, the doctor came and told him that he ate too much during the climb, so combined with the unusual altitude, it made him sick. They decided to take him to a clinic… if one can call it that.
The clinic was located 25 minutes away from the hostel in the slums of Cusco. They put him down on ivy and some drugs, so he was pretty out of it for a while. He kept mumbling to the doctor that he had a flight to catch the next day at 4pm, but the nurse only woke him up at 2pm.
Surpisingly, he managed to get to the airport on time, but his flight actually left early, so he was put to a hotel for the night in Cusco and had to fly out the following morning. To cut the story short, he made it just fine.
After dinner, we went to meet up the group for drinks in a local bar. We passed the time pretty good, although our group is pretty odd. There are no Americans and pretty much no people our age. Everybody is in their late 20s and 30s. But it didn´t stop us from having a good time.
After that, the group broke up in 2. Some people went to sleep to get ready for the ride the next day, while others including us, went out for another drink. Of course, me being not a huge fan of beer, a ¨drink¨ is just a symbolical phrase – but it sounds better that way.
We came back at around 12, took another shower, and headed to sleep. At 4am, the alarm rang, so I woke up Alex. We quickly packed everything up and headed to meet Wamm.
All in all, this was nothing like I´ve ever seen before. I have some pictures of it inside and out, but can´t really post it right now.
The truck is completely custom made with 24 seats inside, tables, fridge, and everything else you can imagine. It´s fully self sufficient and carries food, gas, and supplies with us, so we can go pretty much anywhere we want.
Since we only had 16 people, we actually had some empty seats, which was great since that allowed us to spread out a bit. Most people went to sleep, but I stayed up for a little while longer until I passed out.
We stopped for breakfast a few hours later and then continued on. I got to talking to an australian guy that was sitting next to us for a few hours. It´s really amazing how Australians are so much more involved into American culture than the other way around.
All in all, we drove for about 15 hours. We stopped another time for lunch. This time we used all of the supplies from the truck to make it. Everybody is either on a cooking or cleaning crew. Fortunately, or unfortunately, I´m on neither, since I volunteered to be in charge of the safe and ¨security¨(of the truck), which means that if anybody wants to get any of their stuff, they have to go through me. That´s right – major power trip.
So, we drove and drove and drove… raising a low of eyebrows on the way. Most people here haven´t really seen anything like this either, so it was very cool to see how everybody was either slowing down or turning in order to check out the truck more.
Our destination was Pucon – a small, resort-like town with a few cool attractions – primarily the active volcano that we´ll be climbing on Monday. We got here at around 7pm and went straight to our camp site. We´ll be camping for the next 6 nights, so I´m very excited about that since I can finally test all of my gear.
We setup the tent and went to a local supermarket to get some food. Just imagine a ¨Whole Foods¨of South America. It was quite amazing.
We came back to the campsite where there were a few people that came from the local tourist company to tell us about the activities for the next 2 days, which include¨
– hydrospeeding – kind of like water rafting but without the boat (hey… they said that nobody ever complained)
– jet skiing
– volcano climb (more about that later)
Anyways, my time is running out, so I´ll try to post more in a day or so. I´ll also try to post pictures the next time, but the connection here is really slow.