Days 19 & 20 – Tuesday and Wednesday March 15 & 16: Puyuhaupi Pleasures
Tuesday morning dawned with continuing rain and fog, cold gray and grim. We felt pleased not to be riding, particularly after the grueling day getting into Puyuhuapi. We were lodged in small but cunningly contrived cabins, four riders in each, less than a hundred yards from the shore. The cabins each had a kerosene heater, but there was apparently a shortage of kerosene, so some went cold. The main communal space had a great room with tables for meals and an upper mezzanine level with further lounging space. So while we lounged, Dario and Tikka set about cleaning the drivetrains of the bicycles, which all had troublesome accumulations of grit and mud. In the afternoon all but Bram and John went off on a misty hike in the clouds and rain to catch sight of a hanging glacier. By the time they returned, wet and tired, it was dinnertime and we feasted again.
Wednesday turned into an amazing treat. It was raining fairly energetically, but during a short pause in the showers we gathered outside on the road to pose a picture for Ray’s Mother, Rita, who turned 100 (!) today. Meantime, David arranged for us all to go by boat in the late morning to a hot springs about 10 miles up the fjord. So about 10:00 we set off in a covered boat maybe 25 feet long, powered by an old outboard Evinrude 50hp motor. It took an hour on the water, passing miles of deserted, lush and beautiful shoreline – even in the clouds and rain – to reach our destination. We expected something like the rather dilapidated hot springs we had visited on our trip from Lake Yelcho, but our first glimpse of what was in store for us was the sight of a huge white power yacht, perhaps 130 feet long, anchored near the mouth of an inlet. A sleek inflatable was zipping across the water towards the yacht; we thought it might be ferrying royalty.
In any case, as we rounded the heavily wooded edge of the protected inlet we saw our destination: the Puyuhuapi Lodge and Spa. From half a mile away we could see that it sported wooden towers and sweeping verandas, that it was unmistakably upmarket. An iconic moment: among the boats moored at the dock off to the side was a pilothouse sailing ketch, cutter rigged, some 50 to 60 feet long. Imagine our amazement as we docked and disembarked our water taxi to enter this extremely luxurious resort, marvelously appointed and gracious. Oh, the sweetness.
Inside we were welcomed and shown the heated spas. The inside one, beneath a three-story glass roof, was perhaps thirty by forty feet, with a swim-up bar, a secondary jacuzzi, and yet another, smaller, private round spa. Three opted in for the indoor experience. The rest of us followed a long wooded path to a pool-like outside spa, and beyond that, a grotto spa just up the hill from a squarish very hot spa that looked out over the inlet. After an hour and a half, totally prunish, we showered and headed for a mid-afternoon lunch in the main lodge. The smiling waiters were dressed in tight bitten white jackets; the tables were covered with linen table clothes and napkins; the glasses sparkled even in the gray light.
By the time we returned to Puyuhuapi in our boat we were ready for a nap. Then it was time for packing, dinner, and getting set for our next ride. Rumor had it that it included riding up over a pass with 33 switchbacks. But for the moment we felt like Roman gladiators, paid ahead of time.