We had planned for a 7:00 am departure from our campground in Pichilemu yesterday, but as we drove from our campsite to the entrance/exit we realized the gate was pad-locked and there was no staff on site. Since we were now being held prisoner (and figured that would be the case until about 8:00), we took the opportunity to check fluid levels of the van and reorganize some of our gear. Those chores were done by about 7:40 and there was still no sign of any campground staff. With a little sleuthing, we found a back gate which was closed but thankfully didn’t require a key to open. So we swiftly made our way through camp with Michael Jackson, opened the gate, drove through a shallow ditch, and were finally on the road!
Most of yesterday was spent driving south to Villarrica, our first stop in the Chilean Lake District (Zona Sur). During the occasional stops for rest breaks, fueling up, and paying at toll booths, Michael Jackson continued to cause a variety of expressions on people’s faces. Some people seemed (rightfully) confused while others smiled and appeared to be thoroughly entertained.
Last night we stayed at a quiet campground called Molco Beach which is just outside of Villarrica. The owner is a very friendly and helpful Chilean who recently retired from a long career in the US military. This is his first full season operating the campground and since it’s still early in the season here, there are few others around and we have most of the place to ourselves.
Today we drove into Pucón, the biggest tourist town bordering Lago Villarrica. It was drizzling most of the morning and early afternoon so we didn’t spend much time wandering around. We did, however, treat ourselves to lunch at a restaurant rather than our usual routine of using Michael Jackson for preparing meals.
After lunch the clouds cleared enough for a short walk along Lago Caburga, another 30-minute drive northeast of Pucón.
We’ve decided to stay another night at the Molco Beach campground and explore some of the nearby lakes tomorrow. Hopefully the weather will be more favorable for sightseeing, including views of Volcán Villarrica which dominates the scenery on clear days.