The mattress is so lovely and firm and the surroundings so peaceful that we had a fabulous final night’s sleep at Adely y Helmut. After an omelette breakfast we leave the lake district behind and drive north to Temuco. The rain stays with us but the temperature is steadily rising as we head in to the largest city in Southern Chile, looking for the Lider. Several u-turns later we’re very glad that we made the effort as the supermarket is huge, and we buy more food than we’ll probably need, including a plentiful supply of gluten free bread. Temuco isn’t a particularly pretty city, but then we often think that pretty cities are bland. I prefer urban areas where the walls are decorated with graffiti, and where people actually live real lives, rather than those where everything, including the people, looks sterile. Even at home, I like to watch grafitti artists at work.
As we leave the motorway the side road straightens out beautifully, and the rain becomes a cascade. The sky is almost black, the way is lined with miles and miles of planted conifers, but Cielo (our truck) is in her element dodging potholes and puddles, and we both ignore Dervla who doesn’t seem to think that this is even a road. Not surprisingly, Turismo Curalemu blows us away. Our cabin is spacious (sleeps 4), modern, light, airy, warm, cosy, and extremely good value for money. It’s Christmas Eve and we’re the only guests but yet again we’re made to feel so welcome by Leonel and his wife Carol, and of course their two adorable daft doggies. Leonel is Mapuche and takes us for a walk around their land and beyond to show us some of the native plants, and the small lake which until yesterday was completely dry. They used to live in Santiago but it’s easy to see why they were drawn here four years ago to start this venture and life a sustainable lifestyle. We’re just outside the nearest national park – Parque National Laguna, it’s definitely off the beaten track, and we’re already talking about coming back and staying here within the next two years.
We dine on one of the last few roast chickens left in Lider, followed by a creme caramel pudding pot which seem to be as popular here as yoghurt pots are in the UK. As we clear up we’re treated to our first sighting of a Chilean rainbow, but by 10pm it’s hailing. However we’re toasty warm and looking forward to spending Christmas here. It really does feel like paradise.