Welcome to our travel blog. We are Tabitha and Nic. In 2011 we 'retired' in our early 40s and set off to travel the world. We spent our first year in South America and have been lucky enough to make two trips to Antarctica.

Our blog is a record of our travels, thoughts and experiences. It is not a guide book, but we do include some tips and information, so we hope that you may find it useful if you are planning to visit somewhere we have been. Or you may just find it interesting as a bit of armchair travel.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Pucon and kayaking

For our next day in Pucon, we had arranged to go kayaking. Our Antarctica trip may give us the opportunity to do some sea kayaking to get up closer to the glaciers, so we figured it might be an idea to get some practice.

We arranged a lesson on the lake, but only after I had been absolutely clear that I wouldn't be doing any of this capsize drill stuff, as I have no intention of voluntarily putting myself under the water. So I wasn't too happy when the instructor said the first thing we would be dn was just that. Refused point blank and after a few attempts to persuade me, and me telling him I had been capsized in a canoe once and got out of that OK, he gave in.

We weren't in sea kayaks, but in white water river kayaks. The diffence being that whereas sea kayaks are intended to go in a straight line, these things turn at the drop of a hat. The instructor warned us that we would spend much of our day turning in circles and he wasn't wrong. But he showed us how to use different strokes to keep in a straight line, and we persevered, and gradually we got a bit better. However there is a point in a white water kayak where, unless you are somewhat more experienced that we are, it is not a good idea to fight the turn, you have to just go with it, and carry on again afterwards. The trick is learning which is which.

Sadly, part way through the afternoon session, I discovered I hadn't yet learned the difference and overturned. What was undoubtedly only a matter of seconds felt like an eternity as I pulled off my splash deck, released myself from under the kayak and got myself back to the surface. The instruction was there to help me, but it was still some while before the panic subsided and I could regain control of my breathing! The instructor towed me and my upside down kayak to the shore and once we had both managed to negotiate our way up the very slippery rocks onto solid ground, we emptied out the kayak, got back in and carried on.

Strangely, my paddling after the capsize was better than it was before, and we were doing OK until we started to round the headland and we had the waves to contend with, especially as the wind was getting up pretty strongly too. Before long, Nic and I were both turning in circles all the time. Me in particular, as having gone in once, I wasn't taking any chances and was tending to be rather overcautious about it. We soon realised that going right around the headland wasn't the best idea and we should go back the way we had come instead.

We still had to contend with some reasonable currents and winds, as well as huge great flies that kept trying to bite us and some seabirds that weren't happy that we were paddling past their nest, but we got there in the end. Tired and aching, we dragged the kayaks on shore and collapsed into the van for the drive back. Both of us agreed that a beer was definitely in order! Some after sun was also needed as we had both managed to burn despite having put sun screen on?

On the way back into town we spotted an old friend, Cameron the Dragoman truck that we were on from BsAs to La Paz. She was empty, so we checked with the hostel she was parked outside who the crew were, but it wasn't the people we had had before.

The next couple of days we took it easy. Nic had hoped to try to climb the volcano (I was going to sit and drink hot chocolate, eat cakes and read a book instead), but the weather had turned which meant he couldn't go. In the end, we had the first real rain that we have had since Bogota, and ended up just chilling out at the hostel for one day, and in town the next.

Overall we quite liked Pucon. It is a great place to sit out with a drink or a meal and just watch people passing by. And we did quite a bit of that, but we also did a few more energetic things as well.

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