Hot springs near Pucón
When I got back to El Refugio this evening, after my afternoon bike ride, I met an Israeli guy called Erez, who's staying in my dorm at the hostel. Erez convinced me (without much difficulty) to come with him on a tour of the nearby hot springs this evening. So, after a bite of dinner, and after grabbing some swimmers and a towl, off we went. Perfect way to end the day, and perfect way to relax after a good 'ol bike ride. No better combination in all the world like steaming hot water, rich red wine, and drunk Brazilian girls.
The hot springs are about ½ an hour's drive out of Pucón. The "tours" to them are a complete rort: although they're run by the tour agencies in town, they're really nothing more than a group taxi ride. They shove you in a van, they drive you there, they wait a few hours while you enjoy yourself in the water, then they take you back to town. Sadly, since there's no public transport over to the springs, they're the only way to get there (short of having your own car, or hiring a car). But it is good that the springs are open 24 hours a day!
The "alcohol rules" are also hilarious. When we were just on the edge of town, our tourguide (i.e. taxi driver) stopped at a liquor store, and recommended that we all stock up on some bottles of wine. "You can't go to the springs without wine", he insisted. So, we all bought a few bottles of red, and we continued on our merry way. When we arrived at the springs, there was a big sign out the front, saying (guess what?): "prohibido traer bebidas alcoholicas" (lit: "bringing alcoholic beverages is prohibited"). But there was nobody there to enforce this rule — clearly they don't care what you do. "Don't forget the drinks", the guide reminded us as we went down to the pool. Ah, you gotta love this continent. :P
It was a very pleasant 2 hours indeed that we spent in the hot pool, with the water at about 40°C. Most of our companions in the water were a group of Brazilian girls, who were looking not too bad at all (if I may say so), and who were sculling their large supply of red wine, straight out of the bottle. Not that Erez and myself had any problems getting through our bottle of red. What with the mineral-imbued water steaming around us, the wine flowing through our veins, and the girls splashing around all about us, it was pretty much all I could ask for in an evening.
By the time we got home, I was thoroughly relaxed, and most definitely ready for bed. In fact, I'd had so much wine that the head-on-pillow to sound-asleep-snoring time interval couldn't have been more than about 4 seconds. Absolute miracle that I was able to get up the next day, and climb a daym volcano. But hey, asi es la vida en Suramerica (lit: "that's life in South America"): get drunk in some hot springs one evening; and scale a snow-covered volcano the day after. Tough life, eh?