As our bus approached the town of Villarrica, we saw one of the most vibrant rainbows we have ever seen. In fact, it was so vibrant that we could see the end in the field next to us: Unfortunately, there was no pot of gold at the end, but we still took it as a good sign. After passing through Villarrica towards Pucon, we saw the sunset over Lake Villarica on the left and Villarrica Volcano on the right. The view was spectacular and immediately gave us a good feeling about the city in which we were to spend the next few months.
Pucon is a small, touristy town in the Lakes District of Chile. Many North Americans that come through Pucon compare it to Lake Tahoe in California because of its small town feel and outdoorsy atmosphere. It also happens to be situated near the base of one the most active volcanoes in all of Chile, and that is exactly why this little town is so popular. In the high season, the population of Pucon quadruples! Lucky for us, we left just before the busiest months of January & February. Most tourists come to Pucon to try to climb the volcano, but Anna and I came to help in a hostel.
When we were in Bolivia, we had a drastic change in our plans. Originally, Anna and I were only going to travel for 2 months, then teach English in Brazil for an extended period of time. By the time we arrived in Pucon, we had been traveling for 4 months, and have still not been to Brazil… Oops! But that is part of the fun of traveling; you can change plans and not feel bad about it.
Since the beginning of October 2013, Anna and I have been helping in Hostal El Refugio in Pucon. El Rufugio is one of the most popular hostels in Pucon, in part because of its cozy feel, its abundance of information, prime location, and helpful staff and owners. Many people have asked how we got this opportunity, and to be honest, it was not difficult at all. We literally just Googled “working in hostel in chile” and were brought to hosteljobs.net where we found the posting to help out. We had a Skype interview with James, the hostel manager, while we were in Sucre, Bolivia and set everything up before we got to Pucon. As soon as we stepped in the door, we could tell this was going to be a nice hostel to stay at for a while.
After traveling for 4 months and staying in so many hostels, I got the crazy idea that I might like to open my own hostel in the future. This is one of the reasons why I wanted to work at Hostal El Refugio. Helping in this hostel allowed me to see the inner workings of a successful and established hostel, and as luck would have it, the owners were looking to start another hostel in Pucon too. This made the deal even better because I could see how a building can go from a rental home to a hostel. A the time of this writing, the new Chili Kiwi Hostel has been open for only 4 weeks, and is already full nearly every night. The transformation was amazing to partake in and huge learning experience for me.
Looking back, Pucon has been great for Anna and I, but Hostal El Refugio and Chili Kiwi Hostel have been even better to us. We were able to spend our time in a cozy hostel, enjoy the beautiful scenery around Pucon, and meet a lot of amazing people. We definitely hope to be back one day.