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Winding down: A last day at the baths with fast friends from Pucon

Next day would be my last in Pucon. I went to the Tetera first thing and consulted the map on the wall to plot a mountain bike trip to yet another set of 3 waterfalls and Menetune therma, about 26 km away from Pucon. I had just started this process when a Scottish girl traveling after leaving her job in Hong Kong, whom I'd met there a couple of days ago, suddenly appeared at my table, and then a couple from Austria joined us. They liked the idea of going to the thermas, and we decided to share a cab, which turned out to be cheaper per person than renting a bike. We had a great day together.

Carol, the Scottish girl, went shopping and returned with beer and wine and other goodies, while the Austrians went to negotiate the cab and I packed my bags and left them in my room, which I was allowed to keep for the day as long as my things could be stored if necessary.

We drove first to the falls where the driver had agreed to take us to one, but he didn't mind waiting while we walked to the others. We returned to the cab to find him sleeping there. He had agreed to take us to Panguin therma actually, which was in the vicinity of the falls, but none of us liked the concrete aestheticism of the pozos, where we would have to split into pairs to take cabins with only fairly hot water, and where the common pool was boringly square and its water only tepid (plus you had to choose which you wanted or pay twice, and you could only stay 30 minutes in the pozos). So I was appointed to negotiate a change of plan with the driver, who agreed to take us to Menetune for an extra 50% of the fare minus a thousand pesos which I bargained away.

All seemed happy with the deal, and the Menetune thermas were more suited to our tastes. For about $5 we could move between wood paneled pozos and the pool. The pozos were too hot to stay in for long, so we spent most of our time in the pool, which was mostly tepid, but had a hot spot. The company was very compatible; each of us had stories to share and these came out over beer and wine and the relaxation of the baths.

After a couple of hours the cab driver sent for us, and an hour after that he came himself. Carol got him to agree to another nap, but we left half an hour later to have a meal in town at Graciela's, home of the three course meal for $7.50. The Austrians liked the place so much they took a room there. Still, it seemed the fun was only beginning when it was time for me to leave and catch the bus to Santiago. It was the last bus going that day from Pucon, so there wasn't much choice. As my carney grand dad used to say, "Leave 'em laughing." By that he meant, when you get the crowd really going, that's when you get off the stage. I guess that applies to this travelogue as well. Bye now from southern Chile.

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Last updated: November 12, 1997