We arrived in Pucon after an 11 hour road trip. Driving was broken up by regular stops at Pronto (pictured), a local quick stop gas place that would at home on Route 66 with its chips, soda, and burgers.
We are passengers with Dragoman, an England-based travel company owned in part by Intrepid. Dragoman specializes in overland trips and features in-house designed and built semi-custom passenger vehicles fashioned out of Mercedes lorries. They hold 23 plus a crew of two who are trip leaders, not guides. Each truck is given a female name. Ours is Rosita.
The seating is upright, most facing forward though there are two small tables suitable for games, writing, or snacking. There are clever storage areas, a library, a safe, tables and chairs, tents, a tank with purified water for consumption, and full propane kit for cooking.
The ride is a little noisy and not comfy after the first ten hours. The truck's rugged reliability allows us to travel roads untouchable by tourist buses.
Our leaders are well trained. They are qualified to repair almost anything on the truck, as long as parts are available. They are good drivers and attentive to the passenger needs.
Everyone "volunteers" for a truck/camp duty: sweeping, setting up tents, dumping trash, and so on. Mo is a "Cinderella," assigned to sweeping and mopping the floor each travel day. I am chief of the safe, the only one other than the leaders given the combination. For security reasons, we refer to the safe as the pub. Therefore I am pub landlord.
We sadly discovered that our truck leaks in several places in heavy rain. We hope duct tape and better weather will take care of the leaks
Of 28 nights, we will have 18 hostels and 10 camps. We are told we may have a tent option at some hostels. I am most excited about camping. We will wild camp in remote areas and if the skies are clear should be able to enjoy the Milky Way, the Southern Cross, and other objects. And it should be quiet, very quiet. But not too quiet.
There are disadvantages to truck travel. We enjoyed mixing with locals on trains and buses in Europe and India. We won't have that option here. On the other hand, there is remote site access and the opportunity to develop comradeship among the various age groups and nationalities.
Speaking of age groups, a young woman said to Mo after our rafting activity, "You're so inspiring. I think you're my mom's age, and she'd never be out here doing this."