The Patagonia Study Abroad semester utilizes a planning class that allows students to plan, budget and execute their own program. Previous Huge Experiences semesters staff planned and led logistics aspects which in effect often led to a group that experienced less of the culture and learning process. Below is an email from planning class instructor John Miller updating myself on their first planned trip. The weekend getaway is to one of Chile’s most famously gorgeous rivers on the Rio Fuy. The group planned to stay in the lakeside community of Choshuenco a 15 minute drive to three sections of the Rio Fuy.
Note- The group voted to rent one vehicle and trailer for bodies and gear. They chose to put the remaining bodies on a public bus to save budget of having to rent a second vehicle. What they didn’t plan for was a Chilean holiday throwing all schedules off.
Just thought I’d send you an update. After you dropped Sarah (Waddington), Eric (Bartl),
Alexis (Jennings) and myself off at 7:45 this morning to catch bus Alexis used her
Spanish to make sure we got on the correct bus. At exactly 8:00 right,
on schedule, we boarded a large tour bus bound for Puerto Montt. Our ride
was only from Pucon to Lanco and the luxury start to the trip seemed to
bode well. We arrived at Lanco 2 hours later a little sleepy from naps
but ready for the next leg of the journey. When we bought our tickets
the bus station attendant had told us the bus from Lanco to Panguipulli
left every 15 minutes. We quickly found where we were suppose to wait
for the bus but as time passed more and more frustrated Chileans started
crowding around waiting for the bus. Eric asked those around us if we
were waiting at the right place for the bus to Panguipulli. It turned
out the bus was on a limited schedule because of the holiday. The
Chileans knew it was going to be a bad ride. When the bus arrived we all
piled in, standing room only. As people got up to leave Sarah and
Alexis managed to get seats but Eric and I spent most of the hour long
bus ride standing then almost sitting in peoples laps as those in the
back of the bus tried to get off. We all celebrated our arrival in
Panguipulli until we found out the only bus leaving for Choshuenco left
at 8:00 PM.
I called Lorenzo (Astorga) and we agreed he would swing through town and we’d try
to fit more of us into the Durango. We bummed around Panguipulli for
about an hour, helping Eric look for a new jacket (no luck most shops
were closed for the holiday) and waiting until everyone else showed up.
Sarah and I were going to wait for the bus but Lorenzo insisted we’d
fit. Fit we did, a little tight but off we went for the 40 minute ride
to Choshuenco. Luckily it’s a beautiful paved road so all went well.
After a warm welcome and a quick lunch at the La Posada (the hostel here)
Lorenzo, Jake (Greenbaum), Eric, Hunt (Jennings), Carson (Lindsay), Isaac (Holden) and I headed for the Lower
Middle Fui. The plan was for them to paddle down to the lower put in
while I went and picked up the rest of the group. As we unloaded the
kayaks Christian (the owner of one of the rafting companies here) and
another local representative stopped us and explained that they are very
concerned about the spread of Didymo a micro algae that has already
infected some rivers south of here. To protect the Fui they asked us to
return to Choshuenco and have all our gear and boats sanitized. So off
we went back to town. After an hour of disinfecting the group decided
to do just a Lower Fui run. All had a great time on the river with
special kudos going to Will (McEachern) for hitting several combat rolls and Mary
Katharine (Fields) for her aggressive command of the river.
Tonight after dinner we had a planning session. The group decided on a
very full day of paddling tomorrow (no surprise there). Alexis’s group
read their paragraph writings and afterwards met with Nathan (Silsbee) to discuss
upcoming video projects and turn in their the final version of this
That’s all for now I send another update tomorrow.