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The short drive to Pucon skirted the lake, which was beautiful with its green volcanic hills towering all around, rising from the lake like those of a Norwegian fjord. There were campgrounds all along the lake, making me wish I'd brought a tent (until it rained that afternoon). On the bus, I met a couple of gringos and borrowed their lonely planet which was more update than mine, and found that Pucon now had lots of budget accommodation. From their Lonely Planet, I got the lay of the town and figured out where the tourist office was, and went straight there when I got off the bus.
Pucon had a decidedly rustic appeal. It was obviously the new center for sport in the area, with plenty of agencies all around touting raft and volcano trips. Like Villarica, it was laid out in a grid, but it was smaller and cozier, and was surrounded on two sides by the lake. It was a town of green parks and neat lawns, with the volcano much nearer and dripping snow like icing beneath its cloudy veil. I stopped into a hospitaje to find that though it had no room, it too would have been under $10 a night, so I knew I could stay in that place, and so I looked around in between stops at adventure-tour agencies. I found another hospitaje with cabanas which had living rooms with fireplaces and very attractive bedrooms, the ideal place to be with a loved one, for about $40 a night, not bad for what it was. Eventually I latched on to an atelier in a wood building that looked like a Swiss chalet for $10 and reserved it for the following night. The family that lived there had a roaring fire going downstairs, and one of the girls coming in from school came by and kissed me on the cheek. I was very touched and looked forward to my stay there.
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