Saturday, February 23, 2008

Running sick

After nearly a week of bleary-eyed, stuffy-nosed mornings during which I was too tired and too ill to work out, I slept in this Saturday and prepared myself mentally for an afternoon run. Even though it was not much over 30 degrees out and a half slush, half ice mess still clung to the ground, I donned my running tights and sneakers for a nice long speed workout.

There's been a particular strain of ick floating around my office of late, infecting nearly everyone over the last two weeks. I fell later than most, but fell just the same. Not quite flu strength, its left me incredibly tired and congested nonetheless.

But in all honesty, I find that there's nothing like a good workout to help restore some feeling of health in my body. I was definitely not at the top of my game during workouts this week, but when they were over, my sinuses were clear and the flush in my cheeks and the slight ache in my muscles felt like a normal post-workout fatigue. For at least 15 minutes there, I felt relief...I felt normal! It's hard to say if working out while sick prolongs or hastens my illnesses, but I tend to believe the effect is a draw, at worst.

And speaking of health...when I returned from my run I found a note from Kate taped to the TV. She'd gone out for a haircut but could I please pick up this package at the post office -- it's our new free water tester that she'd ordered from the DEP.

While my pursuit of good health has led to a lot of sweat, Kate's has veered more in the direction of purging toxic chemicals from our lives (getting rid of our Nalgene bottles and making our own cleaning products) and localizing our diets (signing up for a CSA this summer and hoping to obtain meat products from free range farms in the tri state area). Between our respective obsessions I'm convinced we'll both live to 150.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Running's many ensembles

It's been a little while since I've written a post, but not because I've been lacking in ridiculous athletic adventures and misadventures. It's more an equation of my time and energy. Rather than regale you with all those little mis ifs, I'm going to stick with the two for which I have excellent visual accompaniment...

Our second attempt at sweating in the new year!

This is starting to become a new tradition for Kate and me. Last year, at the stroke of midnight, we celebrated the start of what would be an amazing year for us by running 4 miles in Central Park while fireworks exploded over our heads and drunk revelers cheered us on. Hoping to start another great year, we returned to the midnight run, but this time we added a few more interesting elements to the night.

First off, we spent the earlier part of the evening chowing down on a big spaghetti and meatball dinner with heaps of wine and some champagne -- just what every runner needs at the start of her midnight run! We also took the costumes up a notch this year (a number of the racers wear them). Mine was okay - 70s runner. The shorts definitely garnered me plenty of attention on the subway. Somehow the men just don't seem to notice that yes, I'm wearing tiny shorts, but they are OVER full running tights. Clearly, bum is bum, regardless of how many layers it's covered by.

But Kate's costume really made the night. She wore my mother's 30+ year old dirndl with purple thigh high outfit so good, strangers asked to have their picture taken with her and the drunk revelers cheering us on could be heard remarking "what a great outfit!" as we loped by. I'd have to agree; it was a great outfit. And a great start to the new year.

My newest ailment and newest remedy

So now I am doing battle with plantar fasciitis. It boils down to one symptom -- heel pain. After going to dinner with some friends, all of whom are athletes and do a fair amount of running, I got some new tips on how to treat this particular problem, namely this crazy sock that stretches out your foot. Kate loved it so much she took this picture of me relaxing in my sock one night.

But to digress briefly, it's amazing how much time a group of endurance nuts can sit around swapping injury and remedy stories. "Where does it hurt? Cause last year my ankle hurt here and it was tendonitis." I pull my pant leg up and swing my leg into the air so it can be seen over the dinner table as I gesture to the inside of my ankle. "Does anyone know what to do for this problem in my foot?" someone else asks. "Yeah, I had that last year..." and on and on it goes.

Ah, the glories of endurance sports. But then, if it were easy, none of us would like it so much. And on that note, I'm off to register for some races for the year!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

New forms of torture for a new year

Now that the trip is over and I've settled into working life once again, my focus returns to athletic pursuits. With a new year just around the bend, not to mention the big 2-8, it's reflection time. Don't go expecting some intensely deep explorations of life and love here -- I'm talking strictly training reflections.

While I've yet to register for any races, I have gotten Kate to verbally commit to doing a longer race this summer. This of course commits her to being my training partner as well, though whether she realizes that or not remains to be seen. (It will become quite clear when I start waking her up at 6 a.m. every morning! Shhh, don't tell her just yet, I have to break the news slowly.)

I've also signed up for a Crunch gym membership (and got Kate to sign up, too), which is a major step up from the last two years at the Columbia University gym. I can actually get on the machines without waiting five to ten minutes for each one; nearly every cardio machine has a personal TV with way more stations than our cable-less apartment; and there's spinning classes!! I've been dreaming of endless spinning classes since we moved to NYC over two years ago so this has been a long time coming.

Let me just say, these classes are a serious workout and not for the faint of heart. This morning we made our way to a class (during which I got to test drive my fabulous new Sidi's and spds -- expect an "ode to my fine new Italian leather shoes" post at a later date) taught by a woman who hooted and literally barked and growled from the front of the room. At one point, she even started yelling "MUSH, MUSH!" at us. Now, just to be clear, this was a pre-noon weekend class sandwiched between Christmas and New Years and everyone was sporting a bit of a post-holiday coma when they walked in the door.

Within ten minutes, everyone in the room was dripping in sweat. The steam from the huffing and puffing bikers actually managed to cover the mirrored walls in condensation -- a little gross I realize, but a vivid testament to just how hard this workout was.

Final verdict on the class: It's awesome! The more it hurts and the crazier the instructor, the more convinced I am that I must return! And bring my girlfriend with me :)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

One last post from NYC

Well, friends, you may be relieved to hear that this is finally the last post of our trip (some 2 weeks after we have been back in the US of A). All of the pictures are now finally up on flickr. We've had a wonderful time looking through all of them and pretending we are still on vacation. But actually, we are back to working life. Jess started this week and I start very soon...

This blog will now revert to Jess's triathlon blog, so if you want to continue receiving email updates, you can follow Jess's trials, tribulations, and witty commentary on being a 3-sport athlete.

As one final piece of entertainment, here's our "Top 5 Adjustments to Life in the States":

1. Toilet paper goes in...the toilet!
In nearly all the places we visited, throwing TP in the toilet was a big fat no-no. Jokes of toilet paper tossers taking down entire towns' sewage systems - at least I thought they were jokes - quickly got us on board. Not until returning did I realize how well I'd been trained. It took us each a good two weeks to break ourselves of the trash can.

2. Openly gay people are everywhere! Oh, how I missed my brethren. We encountered exactly 4 openly gay people in our entire 3 months of travel and all of them were men, two of whom were even Americans! It was actually shocking how few gay travelers there were and what an oddity we seemed to be at times to the European backpackers that we met everywhere. This is an adjustment I'm more than happy to make.

3. The U.S. Postal Service still sucks. Well, this isn't really an adjustment, but rather an excuse to rail against the postal service on my blog. We sent two packages from South America to Jess' parents, one from Argentina which arrived in a timely manner, and one from Chile. The package from Chile never reached their house and when we finally made it home, devastated that so many of our gifts for friends and family had been lost in the mail, and cursing ourselves for trusting a South American country's postal service, we found a package slip in our mailbox. Jess ran to the post office because the slip claimed that the country of Chile had been attempting to send us a box that we had thus far failed to pick up (mind you, we had already filled out both a forward of mail request and - when that didn't work - a hold mail request) and that they intended to send it back to the "sender" the day before we got home. Fortunately, their incompetence meant that we probably had some wiggle room on that date. Jess recovered the package from the postal worker who insisted that she had "screwed up" in filling out the package slip. You decide - here's a photo. Now whose address is under "Sender" and whose is under "Addressee" (sorry, I know it's a little dark).

4. Speedy service in delis and restaurants. Throughout South America, getting someone to take your order at a restaurant is only a little less hard than getting them to bring the check. On the other hand, there is never any pressure to leave! Coming back to New York, the speediness of the service was extremely refreshing and relaxing. However, I also had to readjust to being in and out within an hour, a long line stretching out the door.

5. In the end, nothing has really changed. Perhaps the most surprising thing about coming home was how much everything was exactly as we left it. It had felt, at times, like we were traveling for years. Yet when we arrived home, all the same scaffolding lined the buildings on our block and the same dude was chilling on the front stoop greeting everyone. My office is still working on the same projects and the train is still packed.

Lastly, we just wanted to say thanks for following our South American journey and have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 12, 2007

One Last Story from the Southern Hemisphere

Upon reflection, I felt I had to share one of my most memorable experiences from South America. As Patagonia is known for being a land of extremes, it is natural that our trek through Torres del Paine National Park (Chile) produced for me a list of superlative experiences:

1 Best Water. Throughout my many backpacking trips I have always lamented the fact that water had to be filtered or treated before drinking. It seemed wrong that water in the forest wasn't naturally clean enough for human consumption. Not only is all the water in Torres del Paine fit for human consumption (except for the one salt lake), but it is the cleanest water I have ever tasted. In fact, as pure glacial runoff, it tastes like absolutely nothing and I have never before tasted water like that. Actually, if wet could be a taste this would be it--just refreshingly wet. It's very satisfying to be hiking over streams all day, from any of which you can take a big gulp.

2. Sharpest Peaks. As a very young mountain range, the Andes are comprised of many thin, jagged spires that have not yet been eroded. Hiking through Valle Francais, surrounded on 3 sides by these sharp peaks felt quite like being inside a ring of snow-capped shark teeth.

3. Best Sunrise. On the last morning of our trek, Jess and I made the totally irrational decision to hike for 45 minutes up a steep boulder field in the pre-dawn, sub-freezing temperatures with our head lamps while being blown around by fierce Patagonian winds. We did this to see the infamous sunrise on the towers and, shockingly, we were the only ones who made this decision on this particular morning. We had no way of knowing the sunrise would be any good because it is entirely weather dependent and the weather is very local--perhaps very different at the towers than at the campsite. Our gamble paid off however and we saw the most colorful pink and purple. The sharp granite towers were also lit up in a beautiful orange-pink color behind a sage-green milky lake. This lasted for about 2 minutes, after which we promptly headed back down the boulder field for some hot tea and oatmeal in our sleeping bags.

4. Coldest Hands. As a once-frequent backpacker I have had some very cold hands on snowy and wet days. However, it was not until I found myself washing dishes in the snow with glacial runoff in the bitter wind that I really felt as if I had lifeless stumps protruding from my hands. Fortunately, it seems that blowing hot air on them every 30 seconds has saved me from frost bite.

That's it for now. In the near future, you can look for one more wrap-up post. More photos are now up on flickr and all of them should be up very soon.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Back in the U.S. with a few more stories to tell

As many of you are aware, Kate and I recently made our proud return to the States. But never fear, we still have a couple of stories to share before we put this blog to rest (and photos to upload).

The final three weeks of our trip had us in tiny towns, on a boat for four days and trekking through amazing parks. All amazing experiences and almost entirely lacking in internet connections. Thus, we turned old-school, writing journal entries to be transposed onto the blog at a later date. Kate will soon give you the story of our visit to Torres del Paine in Chilean Patagonia and I will now give a run through of our last big adventure of the trip... I could have called this post "How I ended up sleep-deprived, fueled for days on only bread and cheese on a glacier with dark lenses taped to my glasses" but I thought that might be taking the theme a little too far. Regardless, I think I need to start this story a little before the actual glacier...

Oct 30
4:50 a.m. Kate and I rise, strap on headlamps and scramble up boulders in darkness for an hour to view the famous Torres of Torres del Paine at sunrise (something she will describe in more detail later).

6:03 a.m. Sunrise! We brace ourselves against the glacial winds and watch the spectacle.

6:20 a.m. Freezing, we climb back down for yet another breakfast of oatmeal and tea. We break camp and hike the two hours back to the refugio where we'll meet our bus.

6 p.m. We finally arrive in Puerto Natales where we promptly find ourselves sitting outside the hostel waiting for someone to show up and unlock the door.

7 p.m. Finally inside the hostel, we fill the next five hours with washing ourselves and all our clothes, repacking, eating an instant soup dinner and preparing for tomorrow's trip to Argentinian Patagonia.

Oct 31
6 a.m. Rise and shine for more stale bread, jam and Nescafe.

7 a.m. Bus to Argentina's Parque Nacional los Glaciares. All day we snack on more bread and some cheese left over from our five day trek in Chile.

1:30 p.m.
Finally arrive in a section of the park where you can see the famous Perito Moreno Glacier and its amazing blue colors (a glacier that is actually advancing). We take a boat to get up close, but not too close as giant chunks periodically fall off its sheer face.

4:30 p.m.
Arrive in El Calafate, the highly touristy Argentinian city that serves as the base for exploring this part of Patagonia. We check in to a hostel, unpack our bags, and look forward to a full night of sleep and a hot, filling meal in a real restaurant.

5:15 p.m. I talk to the girl at the front desk about our options for the three days we have left in Patagonia before our flight to Buenos Aires. Immediately my interest is peaked by a trip to the Fitz Roy section of Glaciares (yes, it really does look like that!) and a tour that involves 12 hrs on your feet, at least three of the 12 in crampons hiking around a glacier. Down side is, to go, we must catch the bus to El Chalten in roughly 30 minutes, a town four hours away, and go on the tour tomorrow - the first day of the season that this particular tour will run. No other date will work with our flight.

5:30 p.m. We toss aside our dreams for a long night's sleep and a warm meal and decide to go for it! I toss things back into our bags and run to the bakery for yet more bread -- our dinner on the bus -- as Kate runs for the ATM (the next town being so small it doesn't have an ATM or a bank).

6 p.m. We hop on the bus and find ourselves to be half the occupants - one of the others being a local from El Chalten who proclaims it heaven as he shares his mate with us on the 4+ hour drive and the other our driver who keeps joking in Spanish that the horrendous Patagonian winds are going to ensure we arrive no earlier than 2 a.m.

10:45 p.m. We arrive in El Chalten and check in to the hostel from which our tour will leave early in the morning.

Nov 1
12:30 a.m. I wake after only an hour and a half of sleep itching horribly. A quick inspection of the bed confirms my fears -- bed bugs! I wake Kate, capture a bug in an empty pill bottle and make my way to the front desk. Kate describes the problem to the girl at the front desk who seems a little doubtful but can't deny the problem given my specimen and obvious bites. She switches us to another room.

1 a.m. We pack our bags again and move them to the new room. Before climbing in the beds, Kate does a thorough search and finds more bugs. The girl at the front desks allows us to sleep on the two couches in the lounge inside our sleeping bags.

3:30 a.m. Cleaning staff turn on all the lights in the lounge and begin dragging chairs around. After about 20 minutes of this, the lights go off and they leave.

5:30 a.m. We rise to pack our bags again, eat a quick breakfast of two eggs and bread, and grab yet more cheese sandwiches to fuel ourselves for the 12 hrs of walking ahead of us.

7 a.m. We leave for a 2.5 hr hike/speed walk to the base camp where we meet two more guides and are outfitted with crampons and harnesses. As it was a perfectly sunny day with a bright blue sky and we were about to spend hours on a glacier with the ozone whole hovering over us, we layered up on the sunscreen. The light also necessitates serious eye protection. Unfortunately, I'd lost my shades to the gods of Torres del Paine several days ago. The shades, however, were the changeable lens types and I still had the dark lenses in my possession. Thus, I made another incredibly fashionable decision and taped them to my glasses with medical tape.

9:30 a.m. We hike from base camp, passing a beautiful lake at the foot of a glacier nestled against a series of peaks - some steep granite spires, others black volcanic cones. From here we cross a river by means of a wire bolted to boulders on each side (hence the harnesses). Once the entire group reaches the other side we hike up and down steel slopes through forest.

We reach the glacier itself and are welcomed by the most intense winds of my life. Our guides provide the following instruction for dealing with the winds, "I raise my hand; Duck!" After strapping on the crampons, we make our way up the glacier till we reach the glacial plateau.

1 p.m. We eat our cheese sandwiches as the guides set up a top rope leading down the side of a giant ice cave. They convince each and every one of us (there being 6 people in our group, including us) to have a go at ice climbing. Pick. Pick. Foot. Foot. Repeat. After reaching the top I proclaim ice climbing to be my newest hobby -- what a rush!

2:30 p.m. We make our way back, first to base camp, then to town.

7:30 p.m. We finally arrive at the bed bug hostel, a little sore, wind blown, exhausted, famished and utterly exhilarated by one of the most amazing experiences of our entire trip. How appropriate that it came in our last days in South America. Only a few days later I'll return to the States a happy, satisfied and slightly melancholy traveler.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

How I ended up soaking wet while standing on a smoking volcano

This time, unlike the jungle adventure, it was all my fault. I was the one dying to climb the active Villarica Volcano in the Chilean lakes district.

We had taken an overnight bus from Santiago to the town of Pucòn after having met an exceedingly helpful expat in the bus station who bought our bus tickets with his discount card and filled us with enough recommendations to keep us busy for well over three weeks (we had one and a half, mind you). I slept only lightly on the bus so I was quite bleary-eyed when I pulled back the curtain of the window in front of me (we were sitting in the first two seats on the second level of the bus) and wiped off the condensation with my sleeve. Looking around I was immediately taken by the green pastures that reminded me vaguely of the Finger Lakes in summer. As we rounded a bend in the road, a giant snow covered cone rose from the distance belching a stream of white smoke against a perfectly blue sky. Definitely not in the Finger Lakes. Thus began a brief but dramatic relationship with Volcàn Villarica.

Though we arrived at our loding by 9 a.m., it was already too late for volcano climbing this day. Instead, we hiked through a national park after reserving our ascent for tomorrow.

We rose before 6 a.m. the following morning to prepare and eat. The bus pulled up at 7 a.m. and took us to the main office where we met the rest of our group (about 10 tourists and 3 guides) and gathered our gear - packs, ice picks, cramp ons, mountaineering boots, gaitors, fleece hats, fleece neck warmers, mountaineering mittens, some kind of weird pant/butt attachment designed to facilitate sliding down a mountain on your behind, shell pants, jackets, lots of food and water. Thus equipped, we drove an hour to the base camp to judge the weather.

When we arrived we were clearly sitting in the middle of a cloud. Our guides proclaimed the conditions to be ¨hermosa!¨, assuring us that we'd climb out of these clouds before long. Off we went, Kate and I bringing up the rear as our group trudged ever so slowly through the snow and up the mountain.

At the first rest stop we were both impatient to get moving as the group was climbing way too slowly for us to make it to the top in the required 6 hrs. Off we went with one of the guides to form the ¨fast group¨. This ended up being the only group to reach the summit and consisted of us, our guide and a British couple.

We did indead emerge from the clouds eventually to be greeted by beautiful views and blaringly white snow. We could not, however, see the summit. It turns out we were between cloud layers for a bright shining moment and would soon find ourselves buried inside a cloud once again, unable to see more than 10 feet in front of us. This lack of visibility was probably for the best. If it had been clearer I would have been able to see just how steep the slope I was half walking up, half slipping down, really was. As it was, every time Kate or I glanced up to look around we got instant vertigo and tripped over ourselves.

As we continued upward, the clouds became downright mean and started throwing things at us. Any stray hairs, including eyelashes and wisps falling out of our hats collected ice and snow, and my shades became coated with water, only maginfying the feeling that I had no idea where I was going...just keep following the blob that is our guide in front of me.

This was the point at which I started realizing that we looked like a line of hardcore mountaineers from documentaries I'd seen in the past. It was a short leap from that thought to specifically ¨Touching the Void¨ which, if you´ve never seen it, is not the movie you most want in your head as you climb a peak in South America.

My slight nervousness developed into a near paranoia when our guide stopped us to explain the proper use of the ice ax should you find yourself sliding uncontrollably down the mountain...right way, you stop... wrong way - and I quote here - 'Adios'. I proceeded one step at a time by putting my foot exactly where our guide had just removed his own - in other words, right on his ass. Kate did the same directly behind me.

When we reached the top, Kate and I walked up the crater and peered down only to be welcomed by a suffocating belch of sulphur. We ran away coughing and tearing up, yet still were quite satisfied that we'd reached the summit to receive a nice big sulphur ¨hola¨from the volcano.

After some sulphur cloud shrowded victory pictures, back down the mountain we went with me just inches behind the guide yet again. We descened via a different route which our guide softly informed me can be tricky to find in cloudy conditions such as this but without which you had to stay on the mountain top. Why he saw fit to share these little pearls of wisdom with only me, I can't be sure. Over the course of our hike I also got to hear several tales of dead tourists who'd falled off precipices, their bodies unable to be found till summer - all of whom, oddly enough, seemed to be Israelis. Maybe it was because he was annoyed with my walking practically on top of him, but stories like these only assured that I would continue to do so all the way up and down the mountain.

We slid down much of the mountain on our behinds, walking on the less steep sections and sliding through the rest while using our ice picks as breaks. The snow got slushier and soopier as we went down and began piling up around me till my pants had become about as slushy as the snow. Very cozy, I assure you.

Before too long we were back in the cloud break. At this point sliding was done and I tromped quickly down the slope, legs wide, wet pants sticking to my body. By the time we reached the parking lot we were again in a cloud - this one so thick that I couldn't find our van till I was standing nearly on top of it. Miraculously, I was still sunburned, not to mention wet, a little cold and famished. There was nothing to be done about the burn, but I addressed the others easily...first we camped ourselves by a wood stove and ordered dinner in town (I ate a completo gigante which is a glorified giant - and I do mean GIANT - hot dog); then followed a bottle of wine at the hot springs just out of town. Soaking in the dark with a bottle of wine, a light rain falling all around us -- the perfect end to a mountaineering day.

Adventures in Transport

As NYC residents, we are well aware that public transportation is a grand adventure, but in South America it´s more than´s a cultural education. On our trip, Jess and I have had a wide range of public transportation experiences. The buses in Argentina were 1st class and the buses in Bolivia were more of a 4-wheel drive adventure. In Patagonia, though, we´ve been downright amazed at the ability to reach the most remote locations via public transit. As a tranportation planner, I have to also say that I am quite impressed by the variety of services available on this bus system. Of course it carries passengers. It also carries mail, packages, sacs of potatoes, groceries, and gifts and personal messages from one person to another. People even put their babies and small children on to be delivered down the road. Of course, given the remoteness of the locations, luxuries such as bus terminals, advance tickets and assigned seats tend to evaporate. Rather, you set out with a vague notion of how to get somewhere, a pocket full of small bills, some fortifying snacks, and hopefully a little luck.

Our first inter-Patagonia trip was from Pucón to Puerto Fuy (foo-ee). This is a little town of about 300 people on the shore of Lake Pirehueco, close to Argentina and surrounded by virgin forest and glacial waterfalls. Two bus transfers later, we found ourselves in this tiny town where you are more likely to run into pigs, cows and horses on the street than cars or people. The next day was Sunday, however, and we found ourselves with 12km between us and the national park no bus. Therefore we proceded to walk the 12km. Just when we started to realize that this was taking a long time, a pick-up truck pulled up and offered us a ride. This was very generous considering the truck had one bench seat with two people already on it. We gladly accepted, however, and the two of us squeezed ourselves into the little seat for door-step delivery to the park. After some glacial waterfall viewing, we of course had no choice but to walk again. After some rejection though we were able to score a lift in the back of an overcrowded pick-up and were dropped at the door of a lodge where we were able to rent a tandem kayak for the afternoon.

The following day was Monday so there were buses but not until 3pm, so we got a late start on a long day of travel. After boarding in Puerto Fuy, we were immediately joined by another 60+ people, meaning that we had to stand in an overcrowded bus for the next 2 hours. This took us to Panguipulli where we flagged down a bus for the next leg of the journey as it was pulling out of the "terminal". This bus let us off on the side of the road where we were to wait for the bus to Osorno. What we didn´t realize was that it was a holiday. After 3 full buses left us standing on the side of the road, we had almost given up hope for the night and began to wonder what 2 gringos might need to do to find a place to crash for the night. Fortunately, on the next bus I was able to secure us 2 spots that were technically unavailable. We finally reached Osorno late at night in the pouring rain, one leg away from our destination for the day. We stayed in a cheap hotel near the bus terminal that served a free breakfast of stale bread and instant coffee. Thus nourished, we headed to a sheep farm just outside the small town of Puerto Octay, which doubled as a hostel. It´s called Zapato Amarillo (or Yellow Boot) and had a giant, yellow wooden boot on the side of the road. You are just supposed to tell the bus driver to let you off at the "Yellow Boot". This is where we relaxed and made plans for our next adventure.

We decided to search out some natural hot springs on the edge of the temperate rainforest and made our next bus plans. We boarded our 1st bus and were let off at the junction of two country roads. Here we were picked up by a 2nd bus that took us to the small town of El Poncho on the edge of Lake Rupanco. This town consisted of one supermarket that sold cookies and crackers. Here we boarded a ferry to take us to the end of the lake where we were to stay in a little cabin at the end of the lake on yet another sheep farm. This ferry accommodated about 10 people and facilitated door-step delivery of each person with their sacs of potatos and flour brought along on the bus. The bus gets close to the shore, the plank goes down, you jump off and the boat pulls away. No stopping necessary.

While this may seem like a lot of work for 2 people on vacation, we felt it was worth it as we lounged in our private hot spring, dug out of a black volcanic sand beach, on the edge of a crystal clear glacial lake, surrounded by temperate rainforest and several volcanos.