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The bus departed right on time, and in the morning, I awoke to a serene scenery of snow-capped volcanic cones slipping past as the bus coasted to my destination. We let passengers out at Tumicon and an hour later arrived at the station in Villarica, where I got off with my two small bags. The town had no obvious centro, so I wandered around for a little while, following streets laid out in a grid, passing attractive wood hospitajes, and finding my way to the placid lake which was dominated by a snow covered volcano which I intended to climb. The morning was perfect, though the volcano had gathered all the clouds available around itself to veil just its peak with a grey halo.
At the lake, I pulled out my lonely planet and worked out where I was and located the tourist office on the map of Villarica there. I don't know why I hadn't done that on the bus. I was actually feeling a bit of anomie, having arrived at a place with no clear objective for the day, and no real indication in the town itself of what there was for me to do there. It seemed like a pleasant location, but as the town began to come alive on my second pass through, I could see that it would be a noisy place to stay.
By then the tourist office was opened. The lady there was very helpful, and I easily found that to do the interesting things, like climb the volcano and go rafting, I would have to proceed to Pucon, a half hour away by bus. In fact, this was where the bus I had taken was proceeding to, but no matter, as it turned out there were lots of buses going to Pucon. My lonely planet said that Pucon was full of rich Chileanos and had little in the way of bargain accommodation, and the lady at the tourist office said also that I should stay in Villarica and commute by bus for that reason. She had a list of hospedajes in town which mentioned two for less than $10 a night, so I decided to try them.
One of these was off the main street, which I thought would be too noisy, so I settled on the other, but even that one looked a little tawdry, so I decided to take my chances in Pucon and leave Villarica behind. I had actually bought my ticket to Pucon and was waiting on a 10:00 a.m. bus, and I was thinking the bus ride would take less time than from my hotel in Las Condes to the center of Santiago, so I impulsively decided maybe I should have a look at a cheap room after all. So I left the bus platform, dashed across the main road to the cheap hotel Fuentes, and got the hotelliers to show me a small but clean interior room across from the bathrooms in a noisy hallway which creaked any time anyone in the building stepped on a floor. It wasn't the Ritz, but I left my clothes bag there, and got the 10:20 bus to Pucon.
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