Hitchiker’s guide to Hot Springs


What aspects are entailed in the concept of adventure? The first, the obvious, would be a sense of novelty. The idea of doing or seeing something new is the bloodline of adventure, critical in every sense. But another aspect that´s oft overlooked is the other side of this same coin: the unknown, or in other words the not knowing. That is after all the birth of novelty. Whatever you may find, do, or encounter existed long before your knowledge or application of it. It will exist long afterwards. But to you, for your first time, it is the holy grail itself. It is the adventure. The unknown is the adventure.

For my 28th birthday my friends and I decided to do something new. Not only in the objective itself, going to the hot springs, but also in the manner in which we would get there and return, hitchhiking. Our first step was to take the city buses as far as they would take us: to some unknown place on the fringes of the city. It all looked much more like a town at this point. The people were scarce. The animal dung plentiful. And the road was long. Our first noticed and largest problem was our number. We were 4, and the addition of four people in any vehicle is usually difficult, outside of your Suburbans, Durangos and Church Vans. Motorcycles were the most common vehicle to pass us along our trek, and the thought was entertained on several occassions to ask for their assistance, one person per motorcycle. Instead a nice couple in a standard SUV gave us a ride. We crunched together in the back seat meant for 3 with 4 people plus my guitar. Afterwards we were cruising along, admiring the landscape, laughing at our lack of space, and enjoying the moment. We had all succesfully hitchhiked for the first time.

The hot springs themselves lived up to its name. They were hot. And very enjoyable. It was also, for three of us, our first time at a hot spring. It was relaxing. And we took pictures. It was a bit muddier than I first expected in all honesty. Somehow the idea of nice and clean fun came to mind when the idea of hot springs came to mind. Not the fact that they were natural occurrences and as all things natural, they came with a bit of dirt. We were also lucky enough to meet the guards there and they entreated us to a meal and coffee. We in turn provided music. Although my time with my guitar was brief, and I offerred Renata to more experienced hands, another friend. But the empanadas were probably the best we´ve tasted in Chile and their was laughter in our mouths as we ate. Afterwards the problems would come.

Our problems were really the same we had in the beginning with one small fine detail. We were four and most vehicles could not support that many. However, in addition to this, our supply of vehicles to choose from was much lower. Much, much lower. As in 5. There were only five vehicles that were still at the springs. Now it was night time, and there was no chance of another vehicle coming and leaving this same night. The first three had given us the expected response: ¨There was not enough room.¨ I´ll admit, in this moment I prayed. After all, what is a bit of adventure without faith? We were considering breaking into groups and taking the last two cars, when the next car agreed to take all of us. Ironically, they were Mormons. I say ironically, because we had just met Mormons on the bus earlier that day. They were nice, well dressed young men from Utah. Our savior´s of the day were Chileans reformed. We all hopped in and squeezed where we could. Happy to be on our way. Faith had won the day, not planning. And we all returned home with the lingering sensation of adventure on our senses.