December 26, 2005
Day 89

Sam, Kim, and I had all been sitting around, acting really lazy, and eating a lot of food for the last few days. We all wanted to get out and do something now that Christmas was over and the buses were back running in full force. A nice, long hike was in order, and Lago Todos Los Santos was the agreed upon destination.

The three of us got up early in the morning, picked up some food and water for the day, and hopped onto a bus to take us to the lake. Unfortunately, we got to the bus right before it left, which meant that it was overcrowded, noisy, and we had to stand for the hour-long journey. Little did I know it at the time, but being surrounded by swarms of babbling people would serve to foreshadow the occurrences of later in the day.

When we got off the bus, we sat down to put on some sunscreen. Almost instantly, the horseflies were on us. These gigantic, noisy, biting creatures were relentless in their pursuit of making our lives miserable. They were completely unafraid to land on us, take a breather, and occasionally feed off of our flesh. Their lack of fear made sense because they were so well-armored, when we swatted them, they just laughed and called some of their friends over to join the party. Somehow, we figured that they would go away once we started walking. We were wrong.

As usual in Latin America, there were no signs indicating where any of the trails were. Sam asked a park employee where the trail started, and he pointed in the general direction of a soccer field. It brought on some bad flashbacks for me, but we walked in that direction nevertheless. There didn't seem to be a trail on the other side of the field, but we did see two people who looked like experienced backpackers walking on a path in the other direction. We figured we'd follow them for awhile and see where the trail led. The constant buzzing had clouded our judgment.

The trail took us through a small forest into an open field. Volcanic ash from Osorno's last eruption had been spread all over the ground. The field deceptively big. After half an hour of walking, we were still nowhere near the end of it. I tried to stop several times to take pictures, but every time I even slowed down, the horseflies landed on me like I was a piece of rotting meat. Sam and Kim had a good laugh every time I brought my camera up to my eye and instantly had to lower it to swat one of the flies.

Eventually, we realized that the backpackers we were following were not going on a leisurely hike for a few hours like us. They never stopped walking directly toward Osorno. We decided that we didn't want to follow them up the mountain and began walking toward the lake with the ridiculous idea that we would somehow find the path we originally wanted to hike. After getting out of the ash field, the ground turned into a mushy substance that was so light and fluffy, it felt like we were walking on air. A few minutes later, we were back in the forest, but no trail was in sight.

We finally decided to give up on finding the actual path after two hours or so of walking. The flies were driving us insane and we began to question whether the supposed trail even actually existed. I certainly didn't want to continue to subject myself to the torture of the bugs, and Sam and Kim both seemed to agree. It was time to head back.

When we got back to where we began, we still had some energy left and didn't want all of our effort to get to the area to be in vain. On the way to the park this morning, we had passed an area where there were some waterfalls and decided to walk there. Although the 6 KM walk to the falls was over a clearly marked road, it was still pretty miserable. The horseflies wouldn't leave us alone. If I could have made them go away for just ten minutes, I think I would've been OK, but the constant buzzing made me lose it. It got to the point where I didn't even care about seeing any stupid waterfalls anymore. The only thought that my brain could process was, "I have to get rid of these flies."

The visit to the waterfalls was very quick. We walked around a few walkways, snapped a few pictures, and immediately got out of there. Because of the bugs, I didn't even realize how great the scenery was until I looked at my pictures later in the day. Finally, after what seemed like a lifetime, we were sitting on a quiet bus on the way back to the hostel.

The horseflies still managed to make their presence known to me even after I was away from them. Every time I felt a tiny twitch anywhere on my body, I immediately slapped it without thinking. Every few minutes, I thought I could hear the buzzing in the background. When I was in my hostel that night, a bunch of girls started speaking German at a table near mine. The three different conversations that were going on at the same time once again put the buzzing back into my head. I thought that somehow the flies had snuck in to bother me some more. I tried to go to bed, but as soon as I shut my eyes, all I could hear were the flies. I think I'm scarred for life.

The photo album for this entry is here.

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