We arrived in Molina on Friday morning before most businesses had even opened. Johnny had left some things at the hostel, though, and we knew Cristiano would be glad to see us, so we returned to Hostal Quechereguas, where we’d stayed on Monday. Cristiano welcomed us eagerly, unlocked the building for us, and encouraged us to shower or charge our phones or use the kitchen. We eagerly took advantage of his offer. (After three days spent outside, in a very dry climate, I was covered in dust. Seriously. I don’t think I’ve ever been that dirty. If you are reading this, you know that bar is set pretty high.) After we’d sufficiently cleaned, clothed and fed ourselves, we got on the bus to return to Curicó, where we headed for the Tur-Bus terminal to get tickets for Pucón.
We’d expected to get on a bus to Pucón that day; on asking the schedule, we found out the next bus to Pucón didn’t leave until one in the morning, and it was more than twice as much as we’d expected to apy. The next day, a bus left at 11 a.m. for a significantly cheaper price–but for it to be worth it, we’d have to find lodgings for the night that cost less than the difference between the two tickets. While we deliberated this, we mentioned it to the woman helping us at the ticket counter. “Let me check what my cousin charges for a night,” she said, and made a few phone calls. A little while later, we found ourselves in the home of an incredibly sweet woman named Maribel, who rents out rooms in her house to exchange students and, it seems, the occasional pitiful, harmless strangers. She had just the right amount of space for us–a bunk bed for me and Collyn; a room with a single bed for Johnny–and welcomed us in with delight.
|our adorable bedroom.|
Maribel is very involved with her local Catholic church, and she’d just spent the morning taking charity collections for her church, instead of working. “I knew the Lord was telling me to do it even though I wouldn’t make any money this morning,” she said, “and here the Lord sends strangers to my door with money!” She was adorable. We had once with her; she showed us pictures of her three sons and told us about the town.
We spent the evening walking around Curicó–a really charming little city. Everyone we met was incredibly friendly. In the Feria Artesenal–like a big handicrafts market; almost every town has one–Collyn and I spent about fifteen minutes talking to some vendors who sold her a maté cup. One of them had lived in Canada for seven years and spoke English; they were excited to talk to us about our trip and give us travel recommendations. While sitting in the plaza, Johnny met an old man, Juan, who told us about his career as a firefighter in Curicó, and showed us the bike he’s ridden for the last forty years. His second surname was “Bueno,” which he joked about with delight. He was 85 years old, but still spry: he rides his bike 20 kilometers a day.
Along the center of the town is a long park where we saw teenagers playing soccer, families with young kids spending Friday night on the playground and then, to our surprise, a fireworks show. Someone told us it was a celebration of Chile’s winning a soccer game–against, I think, Venezuela.
|Friday night churros. this truck in the park reminded me of home.|
We woke up the next day, Saturday, ready to board the bus to Pucón. Despite Curicó being a surprise pit-stop–we hadn’t planned or really wanted to spend the night there–it ended up being one of my favorite parts of the trip. The hospitality we experienced, the friendliness of strangers at every turn, the simple delight of spending Friday evening walking around a new town: all made for a sweet, simple, fortuitous episode of our journey.