We wake up late and I have a stuffy head and pain in my back from lying in bed for too long. We have nothing planned for today and find it hard to get going. Slowly we make it down to breakfast. We’re not the only ones. Several other couples slowly turn up for a late breakfast. After breakfast we spend time on the balcony looking out over the lake while I catch up on my diary. Unbroken cloud hangs over the lake but it does feel like a fresh day, if only we could motivate ourselves to get going. We wander through the gardens, down to the lakeside. The estate is littered with various other buildings connected by twisting paths. The lower half of the estate is in some disrepair but with signs that here and there work is being done. The gardens are pretty, with many different types of flowers, plants and trees. A lookout balcony offers a fantastic view over the entire lake.
We still can’t really get going. At breakfast Christian told us about a beautiful drive through the national park, skirting the Villarica volcano, leading to Coñaripe, but his helpful advice about how to extract ourselves from mud put us off (deflate rear tyres, weigh down the back with rocks). Instead we go for a small magical mystery tour. First up to Caburgue, a settlement of a few cabañas and a restaurant by a small lake, then following a smaller road back round to Pucón. The landscape is varied, green and colourful, with cabañas dotted discreetly throughout the landscape and small farms here and there. We take a few pictures but generally just cruise along. Near Pucón we give a lift to a local woman who smells of biscuits. We head back to our hotel and Ness lights the fire in our room. We settle down with our books, I nod off and we spend the next few hours in semi-enforced peace and quiet, enjoyably.
On the one hand it has been a waste of a day in some spectacular countryside when there is so much on offer to go and see or do. On the other, we have lots of time ahead of us, with more discoveries ahead, so why get stressed about it – which we aren’t – let’s just go with the flow. Tomorrow we have booked a half-day horse-riding excursion. Even if the clouds are still around it won’t matter. The view of Villarica volcano keeps eluding us though and I hope we’ll at least get a glimpse before we leave Pucón in a day and a half. Right now we’re settled in hotel lounge, wood fire crackling, sat by the wall-to-wall windows overlooking the lake. The weather outside is closing in, getting very windy and rainy. Waves on the lake are flecked with white foam heads, showing how windy it is out there. We can hear the wind howling outside. And two pisco sours are complementing the mood, with some soothing pan-harp music on the background. We still have to decide what to do about dinner – decisions, decisions!
We make it into Pucón later that evening, driving round the blocks trying to decide where to go. Fresia is still the best street and there is a cosy looking Uruguayan parilla, La Maga, at the top of the street. Outside it’s still raining heavily, inside it’s snug despite a few small leaks, and we have an excellent dinner. Ness sticks to sensible pollo con arroz, but I can’t resist trying the Chivito “La Manga” (for one), preceded by Provoletta (melted cheese with oregano). The Chivito is demasiado: steak, ham, bacon, cheese, fried egg, potato salad, chips, lettuce, tomato, avocado. I asked for the palmito to be left out – Charlie would be proud. I feel I’m the centre of attention having ordered the equivalent of a family meal on my own (a large hungry family at that!) It rounds off our day nicely. Coffee in the hotel lounge when we get back. There are people in the bar (a small separate room behind reception, not the main lounge) but after such a big meal I’m not up to conversation.