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.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Being good in Pucon, Chile

The view from our hostel room, Villarica Volcano, Pucon
We took the new overnight direct flight from London to Santiago on 11 January, and spent the day loitering in the city, where a couple of ladies tried to have a go at dipping their hands into my handbag while we were at a café.

It was right next to me, so was quite flagrant. I spotted an odd movement, so checked, and kept a closer eye on it, which obviously stopped them. Then the waiter came over and suggested moving all of our bags, so clearly he had his suspicions too. They left just after that.

Emma and Olivia, Pucon

Aside from that, we had a pleasant enough day in a very hot Santiago, and then got an overnight bus down to Pucon. Having expected not to get much sleep on the flight, we had treated ourselves to a cama bus, which has seats that recline into a fully flat bed. We had a very comfortable night, and slept far better than on the plane.

Villarica Volcano, Pucon

In Pucon, we arrived at a hostel we had used before, where we were pleased to find that not only was our room ready for us, but they also had recently got two gorgeous little kittens, called Emma and Olivia. We soon settled in, and allowed ourselves to go out for a meal and a last beer that night, before starting our healthy regime in earnest the next day.

Fire Station, Pucon
In the morning, we hit the supermarkets, and bought ourselves plenty of healthy meats, fruit and vegetables, and set about planning our menu. We have opted to do the Slimming World plan, which is a little easier to do when you're on the move as we will be, and we know a few people who've had good results from it.

Not wanting to end up with any excuses for not sticking to it, we had made sure we were staying in places with decent kitchens, but we also supplemented this by bringing a few items that wouldn't normally be included in our travel kit. One is a large silicon collapsible microwave steamer, that can also go in the oven as a casserole dish; we have used that almost every day, and in fact we are considering making a regular part of our luggage. Another is a spiraliser, which is much less essential than the steamer, but it has encouraged us to eat more courgette in particular, as that works really well, and it has certainly been a talking point with our fellow travellers!

Olivia, Pucon

Then on Monday, we joined the gym in town and did our first session there. I knew I was unfit, but my goodness it was hard work. Still, we stuck to the plan for food and regular gym going, gradually increasing the time and effort spent there over the weeks.

We were both so exhausted after our gym efforts, and spending so much time cooking up healthy foods to try to keep things interesting, that we never really got around to doing anything much else. We concluded that taking bikes out wouldn't really get us that far and would just leave us too achy to do the gym the next day, and we were burning off more calories in there that we would have done cycling. So we decided to stick to the gym.

Emma, Pucon

We spent a lot of time semi watching the TV screens while we pounded away on the cross trainer etc, and one of the main things we were seeing was the horrific wild fires that were raging through the country further north. Whole towns had been destroyed in some cases, and it was heartbreaking to watch footage of people literally seeing the fire creeping up to their homes, doing everything they could to create firebreaks and divert it, but knowing that in all likelihood, their home would be destroyed.

When we saw the fire brigade in town doing a collection, we stopped and made a donation. The guy we spoke to was interested to hear we were from the UK, and quickly got his smartphone out to show us a photo. It was of him and his brother, as young boys, presenting flowers to The Queen when she had Prince Philip visited Pucon in 1968.

On our two days off per week, we walked into and around the town, and stopped off in one of the cafes for a well behaved cup of tea, virtuously resisting all of the rather lovely looking cakes.

And the good news is, albeit that it is slow, we are losing weight. I had hoped for one of those wonderful first weeks that you hear other people talking about, where you hop on the scales to find you've lost huge amounts. Sadly that was not to be, but we're not doing badly.

Aside from never-ending shopping and cooking, and being in the gym, we spent a lot of time enjoying the company of those two lovely kittens, whilst looking at the rather splendid view of the 2840m high Villarica Volcano, the closest of the three volcanoes in the area. It is an active volcano, and last erupted on 3 March 2015, albeit only a shortlived one. 

When we hit our first milestone target, we treated ourselves to a meal out at what we had heard was the best parilla in town, La Maga. We weren't disappointed. We treated ourselves to a fillet of beef, by which I mean the whole 1.5kg fillet, and it was delicious. We even had a drink to go with it.

We needed that treat, but we were right back on the straight and narrow afterwards.

If you're in Pucon for normal tourism, rather than chained to the gym, there is plenty to do here. Last time around we had a hike in Huerquehue National Park and went kayaking on the Lake. There are also plenty of bike rides out to waterfalls and other sites, there are thermal springs that you can go to, and of course, you can hike up the volcano if you feel so inspired.

We may not have seen much of Pucon ourselves this time, but it was certainly a good decision to come here to do this. It is working.

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