As we have been traversing this long sliver of land called Chile, towards the cooler Lakes District and the daunting Careterra Austral, we have been trying to find out how this place actually works. One of the best ways to do this is to stay with Chilean people and the fantastic Warm Showers network makes this a relatively easy thing to do. So far we have stayed with Aldo and his family in Coya, just missed staying with Pascal (French) and his Chilean partner in Curacautin (they were on holiday) and the last couple of days we have been with the absolutely delightful family of Juan Jose, Carla and their 13 month old daughter Olivia in Pillanlelbún, just North of Temuco. The way it works is that people all over the world who are interested in cycling, or who have done their own cycle tour, or are just hospitable, register on www.warmshowers.org and their location is then shown on a map which other members can browse. You then make contact through the website if you want to stay. It works well and in Chile their are several lovely hosts spread throughout the country.Juan Jose and Carla used to live in Santiago but 2 years ago decided to escape the city and get a place to live with space for growing vegetables and fruit, and time to enjoy life. They first got new jobs in Temuco and then found an amazing house by a river only 30 minutes commute from town. To us their lifestyle looks idealic, they have space and peace and a beautiful house, they are building a well for the garden and they have made some good links with local families who help with childcare for Olivia while they are at work. We met Lina and her 12 year old daughter, and another lady called Carmen, who cooked us food and looked after us during the day. We hung out with the gorgeous Olivia, and Leo marched everywhere following their dog and trying to feed it apples, until eventually calming down and sitting playing with Olivia in that slightly awkward way that 13 month old children have where you are never really sure if they will throw things at each other or be 'nice'
And after a lovely time at their house they gave us a lift to Lican Ray, a town on a lakeshore overlooked by a large snow capped volcano. Lovely people.