Stories from Pucón and Las Fiestas Patrias

Maya Silver
October 1, 2013

A break from reflection to simply relate what on earth I have been doing lately…

I had no classes last week for the Chilean Independence Day, or Fiestas Patrias, on September 18th. Some friends and I took advantage of our spring break (yes, spring!) to go to Pucón, eleven hours south of Santiago by bus.

The first full day we took to the mountains. There was no down, there was no flat, there was just up up up for hours. It’s a good thing I got some raisins and peanuts in my guata (chilenismo for stomach), because the last few meters were steep and snowy. We had decided to give up and head back when the trio of very friendly Chileans (VFC’s) we had hiked with earlier caught up with us. Between the promise of the Chilean flag to hold up at the top, and threat of being subjected to chicken noises all the way down the mountain, I found my inner spiderwoman and scrambled up the rest of the way. Whether from the exertion, the height, or the beauty, I was trembling. Needless to say, we became fast friends with the VFC’s, obtaining an open invitation to visit if we’re ever back south (which we will be, we resolved).

We made it! (picture taken by VFCs)

The same hike, down at the bottom.

We took the next day to explore Pucón, visit a lake and some waterfalls, and recuperate in the hot springs. The following day we embarked on another long hike, this time in el Parque Nacional Huerqueque (pronounced where-kay-way), taking the “lagoons route.” In the evenings we cooked ourselves pasta or black bean burgers, and left our muddy shoes to dry by the wood stove while we chatted over tea until 1 am.

We visited Lake Caburga, near Pucón.

A lagoon in Huerquehue.

When I left Pucón, I still smelled like wood smoke. It’s noticeably colder down south, and families burn wood to warm the house. Oddly, even after showering and washing all my clothes, I still smelled like smoke. I thought it was my hair. Then my host family pointed out the neighbor’s barbeque, and I realized that the smell of smoke was not left over from Pucón at all, but rather it was the smell of the Fiestas Patrias beginning. “Crazy neighbors,” my family laughed, “They have an asado every single day!”

Thus commenced four days filled with my host family and my gringo friends, music, dancing, and of course the typical asados. I went to several fondas, neighborhood-sponsored outdoor celebrations which include the above festivities plus cultural performances, artisan fairs, carnival-style games, and amusement park rides.

More photographic evidence of my adventures below!

I went to this fonda in Providencia twice.

The military parade passed by my street.

People try on hats at a fonda.

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Maya Silver

<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Maya is a senior majoring in Neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University. In addition to classes and laboratory research, she enjoys running, martial arts, and improvisational baking (with variable results). Having achieved comprehension of the Baltimore accent, she hopes to master Spanish as well, and is looking forward to many adventures in Chile!</span></p>

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