Valdivia to Melipeuco Day 12 – February 13th 2016
Just another typical day here in Chile. Woke up early to catch the 10:30 bus to Temuco. We asked our campsite hosts if they could call a cab for us. At 10 am the host was like “one minute chikas”. So we’re waiting out on the street and he comes back with a towel, spoon and knife and a string…. Ya we were super confused. Where was the cab? We keep watching this guy as he literally broke into his own car with a piece of string and a spoon. It was very impressive, despite the humiliation that he was breaking into his own car. Once opened he tells us to get in. So Simone, myself and our two toddler sized bags cram into this tiny four door smart car with our camp host who was questionably high. We got to the terminal in one piece and board our bus to Temuco.
3 hours later, we arrive in Temuco only to realize we need to get on a transfer bus to the regional bus terminal to get to the national park 2 hours from the city. We grab the transfer bus, tell the driver where we need to go, then 15 minutes later his like “where do you need to go”? Turns out he completely forgot where the only foreigners on the bus needed to get off. I don’t even know why we paid him, but when got off the bus, he gave Simone some very vague instructions to get to the terminal.
In the 30-degree heat, middle of the bustling streets of Temuco, with our 15+ kilo bags we shuffle our way to the regional bus terminal. Asking for directions at least three more times, we made it. We grabbed our tickets for the 3:30 bus to Melipeuco which is the town closest to the Conguillio National Park. With an hour to spare we bought two ice cold Ginger Ales and grad a bench in the park for lunch.
As we are eating, we start to wonder if we are in the sketchy part of Temuco or just an ordinary area. Three guys were sleeping under trees, which thinking back over the last two weeks, I’ve slept on a rock, my backpack on the side of the road and on the grass in a park, so it seemed to be a common thing that ordinary people do (because I’m so ordinary). But there was also a crowd of men and one women talking around a bench and another man on a bench staring at us. At one point one of the men walked by us and said hi, Simone had a conversation with him, then another walked by and Simone struck up another conversation. There was a moment or two where we both were contemplating our exist strategy.
Obviously we survived as I’m writing to you now. We got on our bus and 2 hours later arrived in Melipuco. After visiting the tourism office, we came to realize only one bus goes into the park once a day, leaving at 1 pm and coming back at 3 pm. These times make no sense, so we asked what it would cost for a taxi or shuttle to the park, 50,000 peso!! Per person! As it was 6 pm at this point we chose to get a hostel and try and bus tomorrow to the park and find camping then.
The hostel we found is one of a kind. The main floor is a restaurant which has had not a single guest today. Upstairs are bedrooms and a common area with a porch. Our room has two beds and private washroom which works well. Our hostel host said we could use the kitchen to cook dinner which was really cool. She had a wood burning stove from probably the 50’s and another gas stove beside it. All her pots are massive, as expected for a restaurant. Simone and I made our pasta in a 20/30 litre pot which was quite cool.
After dinner, we spent the evening watching HBO and eating canned fruit, our treat for a long, interesting day. To finish off the evening I had a shower which despite the feeling that at any moment the floor would give way due to the wood rotting, and the water fluctuating from scorching hot to ice cold, or the fact that the bathroom ventilated into the attic, it was a pleasant moment.
Fingers crossed that we get to the national park tomorrow! I’m craving more hiking and camping by the water.