Thanks to my supply of Lider’s gluten free bread I was spared having to eat cardboard (rice cakes) for breakfast. Unfortunately it’s now Rich’s turn for tummy issues and so he also eats sparingly. Helmut tries to insist that we go and visit Termas Geometricas. He doesn’t seem to appreciate our preference for wilder, out of the way and less touristy hot springs, like those we’ve found in Iceland. I’m sure that the Termas are delightful if you’re into spa resorts. But we’re not. Luxury doesn’t really do it for us. Instead we’ve got our sights set on spending the day walking in Conguillo National Park.
Conguillo feels so much like Iceland in parts and Quebec in others thanks to the lava flows, mountains and lakes. The ginormous monkey puzzle trees dwarf both Cielo (our tank of a truck) and us and we’re surprised at how few tourists we see. We do come across a party of school children, but instead of walking the park wardens have them painting signs and replacing the stones at the sides of the paths. Why pay adults to do manual labour when you can get little people to do it for free and call it a team building exercise? The school bus is also a hardy piece of machinery, making it up parts of the track which are severely rutted, steep, and on the edge of a cliff. All in a days work.
Stretches of the dirt road are frankly terrifying and I have to remind myself to breathe, but it’s easy to see why they filmed scenes for ‘Walking with Dinosaurs’ here. Llaima is considered an active volcano but she’s behaving herself today. We make a mental note of the evacuation route signs just in case though. We follow a few of the signed walks, lunch at the northernmost lake and leave the park via the southern exit late afternoon.
As always I just let the local drivers overtake whenever they feel the need. I don’t understand this need for speed, or aggression. Why put your life in danger for the sake of a few minutes? We dine on Adele’s chicken with asparagus and potatoes, but Rich has taken a turn for the worse and despite needing every calorie can’t finish his meal. It could be a delayed reaction to the dodgy pork from a few nights previously, or a general side effect of traveling and drinking from different water sources etc. We’re actually glad that we ended up staying here for only two nights as it’s a long drive back into the park, and we don’t want to visit any of the obviously touristy places close by. An early night is called for as all three of us have to be on form for the long drive tomorrow, and as there are other guests to entertain Helmut we don’t feel guilty about making our excuses and walking the 400m back up to the studio to drink decaf tea whilst looking at the moon.