Well, the forecast for volcano land was looking a little unsettled and since I found myself in South America to compensate for getting shut down by rain all spring, this was not my idea of our trip . . . so after our day on Villarica in the clouds, Scott and I were killing an hour before hot springing and decided, wtf, let's go north . . . we'll rent a car and check out some of the high passes outside Santiago with a backup plan of heading to Chillan where we knew we could find a few more volcanoes and a few more hot springs. Armed with a plan, we bought bus tickets (as did the rest of our group, all to different locations) and then did a speed run to the hot springs, returning to Pucon in time to have a bite and get on the bus. One Ambien later, we arrived in Santiago and headed to the aeropuerto to rent a car. I will never understand how, but this process always takes longer than one can imagine, but about 2 hours later, we were driving away in our new ski assault vehicle: the Chevy Corsa :-) We chose to head locally since we had to wait for our notorized approval to take the car to Argentina and didn't want to head that way and wish we had it. So, toward La Parva we went.
Navegating Santiago was no easy feat . . . I'm not sure we really even had a map, and I'm not sure it would have really helped anyway. What did help was asking random motorists and motorcyclists for directions . . . I seriously love being able to speak Spanish! We were finally on the road out of town and I was pretty worn out from the logistics and said to Scott, "I hate to admit it, but do you know what I'd do for a Starbuck's right now?!!?" . . . literally 5 minutes later, one appeared on the side of the road and I was in heaven!!! It was pretty darn funny, actually :-)
From there, we drove up the windiest road ever in search of the La Parva/El Colorado/Valle Nevado ski areas . . . about an hour and a half later, we came upon ski town condo-land and knew we were in the right spot. After driving around a bit, we decided to just start skinning, and did so until we found ourselves on the top of a ridge, looking back on some serious eye candy, and poised above a fun little coolie. So, down we went, and then headed back up for round two down some more spirited terrain into a narrower coolie. It was fun, and felt like the Andes I know from my time in Lenas - little shots everywhere, and many ways to skin a cat :-)
We drove to Valle Nevado after our ski, and found the sketchiest road without guardrails, ever! It was cool to see the place though, and apparent there would be some winter potential and seriously rad potential, but not much in the middle. So, with that info in mind, we headed back to Santiago, figuring we'd see if we got our Argentina paperwork and check weather again.
After driving the windy road, we ended up in the middle of the city, more or less completely lost. I had spent one day in town on my way south, and knew of only one area with hostel and internet cafe . . . if only I could find Bellavista. And then, much as the Starbucks had appeared earlier, the Bellavista exit appeared from nowhere (from inside a tunnel, no less!), and off we were to familiar territory. At this point, we got our rental guru, found out we'd get our paperwork delivered the next morning, found some food, and crashed hard!!!!