We meet Pablo at a football game, a game organised by his dad for a top Chilean and Argentine Football team to play a friendly. The Chilean team won and before the game is over we escape the crowds. Pablo drives us in his SUV back to a very elegant and modern home in the hills overlooking llaima volcano.
The Gildermeister family are originally from Germany. Pablo’s uncle, Heinz, was a successful tennis player in the 70’s, his highest being seeded 12th and on the walls of the family home there are numerous memorabilia of his successes. The youngest of the family, Andrea plays for the Chilean national youth team.
But before I knew all this, we spend the first night in our tent, erected next to the family home, somewhat gutted we couldn’t enjoy the warmth and comfort of their beautiful home. But as we were guests, we had no right to ask.
We ended up staying a full 7 days. When first arriving Pablo asked how long we would stay and all we could answer was with a “maybe tomorrow, or a few more days”. We really had no plan, no idea of when we would move on and this is the basic protocol in our method of travel. The feeling of adventure would somehow be lost if we knew when we were going and where we were going.
We did not do much in our 7 days. We visited the centre of Temuco, which is nothing to shout home about, but highlighted how much Chileans enjoy Mcdonalds, as by midday on Sunday, MD was just about to open and there was a rather eager crowd of people lining up to get in.
We went fishing once, before Gerrit broke the rod, just after I had only had one attempt. He threw the line out and it hit the branches of a tree the other side of the shallow river. It was however a good day, wading through water waist high, with 5 dogs splashing through the downstream flow and we did eventually catch one fish!
We swam in the pool and made elaborate moves on the giant trampoline and a lot of time throughout the day I sat myself down on Googles translate. Translating my English to Spanish to Andrea the youngest, surprisingly it ended up being quite a laugh having a conversation this way, so thank-you Google.
And some of the fondest memories from sleeping in our tent these nights, was the incessant battle with one of the biggest dogs as he would always try to follow us in, and if we left the tent open we would arrive back to find them, or specifically the little beagle Lucas wrapped in one of our sleeping bags. Each morning we would awake to the collection of a mans best friend guarding the zipper to the tent. It was actually quite endearing.
On the 7th day, without knowing we would be leaving, we had our clothes in the washing machine, half done the father told the mother to ask us to leave, as they had friends coming to stay, but it also begged the question about had we actually overstayed our welcome. A yes is probably quite accurate.
Wet clothes and at 5pm our hitchhiking ability was slimming by the minute. Our tent packed, and wet clothes strewn into our bags, we got on our way. But with the heavy load from damp clothes, we were night in high spirits. However after a short ride by a pickup to the main road out of Temuco, The people who keep our streets safe would offer a helping hand!