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I gave up on the slightly lumpy double bed mattress in the early hours, and tried to keep warm on one of the day beds in the living area. I fell asleep eventually after applying a few more thermal layers, so am refreshed enough to really enjoy the wonderful breakfast which Javiera brings over from the main house in her large wicker basket. We have to fend off the dogs and puppies at the front door as she enters. One of them takes a shine to my big toe, and tries to nibble on it. Fortunately he doesn’t bite down too hard. All of the breakfast produce is local, and Rich even gets cake. My gluten free biccies are quite tasty smothered in the home made jam though, and the scrambled eggs are delicious. I always forget how good simple meals can taste – marmite on toast, scrambled eggs on toast, sausage sandwiches…

We ignore the rain and drive to the oldest national park in Chile – Parque Nacional Vicente Perez Rosales, about 40 miles from Puerto Varas. We don’t see a single soul as we drive the few miles into the park, so we’re delighted to see a cow herder (complete with big cows) a little way down the Lago Cayutue trail, closely followed by our first sighting of a genuine Chilean cowboy on horseback. I think they were far more surprised to see us than we them as the rain has turned the path into a fast flowing stream in parts. The surprises don’t stop there. As we pass through the only gate on the trail, a very handsome collie dog appears by our side and after jumping up to put his front paws on my shoulders and lick my face, he takes it upon himself to shepherd us to the lake. He literally seems to have appeared out of thin air. He’s very affectionate, looks to be in good health, and seems to know the trail intricately. We stop looking at the map as he so obviously knows where we want to go. The path north of the lake is flooded but we’d not planned on going any further, so after admiring what we can see of the lake through the mist,  our doggy friend leads us back the way we came. It was definitely a good time to turn back as the streams we crossed earlier are now that much deeper and faster flowing, and quite a hazard as they flow straight into the raging torrent of a river which runs alongside the trail. The guidebook describes the trail as ‘easy’ but either the author couldn’t be arsed to actually walk the trail and just looked at the map, or we are much softer than Chileans, even if we do count trekking as a passion of ours. I promise doggy that he can share our lunch when we find some shelter, but as we pass back through the gate, he disappears. Our spirit dog guide had led us back to safety and then had to go back to where he came from. Either that or the thought of my sandwiches was enough to send him running to the nearest farmhouse. I know what I’d rather believe.

On the drive back into town we come across a herd of llamas grazing in a field, and screech to a stop so that I can take some pics. I thought that the locals would think I was slightly weird for doing this given that llamas and their wild cousins aren’t exactly difficult to find in South America , but a few Chileans staying in some holiday cabins opposite follow my lead and start taking pics. Of the llamas, not me. My excitement at seeing these beautiful creatures distracts me for the remainder of the journey and I over shoot the drive to Bordemundo, forcing us to drive back through town as there’s a very impatient driver right behind us. The area looks even more Alpine when shrouded in cloud. Presumably it would have once been covered by the native forest we’re just walked through in the park. That felt alive, and earthy. The deforested areas feel naked, and melancholy.

Volcan Osorno is still hidden from view so we busy ourselves building a fire, and when not watching carefully enough, melting a pair of my socks. At least I know that they’re a man made fibre now! Rich cooks his famous chile con carne with gluten free pasta and we settle down to literally weather the coming storm.

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