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It was by then after three, but I figured I could walk to thermas if I had to and get back to Pucon that night even if I had to walk all the way back to the paved road. As it turned out, this wasn't necessary. I did have to walk a few kilometers further on the gravel snaking toward the thermas, and a couple of cars too full of people passed me by, but eventually a Chilean couple in a Suzuki stopped for me. They were going to Huife, not far from Pazones, which was where I had intended tto go originally. Pazones, according to Hans and his wife, was the most simpatico (and also the most distant) of the thermas along this road. Huife was the most developed of all the thermas, but it had been tastefully developed I thought, so I decided to stay there and enjoy my time rather than try to get further out to Pazones.
Huife had two pools large enough to swim around in. One was hotter than the other, but both were fed directly from the springs, so in either you could have a hit of heat by getting near the inlet pipes. The gurgling brook running through the canyon where the thermas were located was just meters from these pools, so it was possible to go to the river and sit in the ice cold water and then jump in the pools to see if you could induce a heart attack or better, a pleasant tingling in the skin. I stayed there swimming for over an hour and talking to the pleasant Chilean couple who had brought me, and to an American couple with a carload of kids who had passed me up and who seemed to want to avoid me but who deigned the odd word now and then. At five, I decided I'd better head back. No telling how far I'd have to walk.
As it turned out, there was another Chilean couple in the parking lot just getting into their car, and the readily acceded to my request for a lift back to Pucon. Like the first couple, they were down from Santiago for a long weekend in the countryside. They had me back in Pucon within the hour and took me right to my hospidaje. That turned out to be a good thing, because I left my hat in their car, and they were nice enough to return half an hour later with it.
I was constantly forgetting things, one bane of traveling in your old age. I had my wallet tied to my belt so I wouldn't forget it. I left a towel I had just purchased in a shop in Villarica and went back next morning when the shop opened to retrieve it. I left the same towel in the Tetera before leaving on my trip to the thermas, and Hans had run after me down the street since he knew where I was going and figured I'd need it. I left my good fleece jacket in a restaurant in Pucon one night and went back next morning to find it in the chair I had left it in. It was a good thing I was in Chile. The only place I've had any trouble with theft in my travels lately was in the airport at JFK in New York, where things were removed from unlocked bags I'd left in storage there while I ran into town.
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