Our arrival in La Serena early in the morning was quite surprising for me. I can't believe hostel owners are already at the bus station at 6:30AM trying to persuade residents into staying with them. We had made no reservations so we waited to hear what all of them had to offer and ended up going to Hostal Gladys, as I had recognized the name of this one from research I had done before. For $CH 4000 ($8) a night, the three of us would share room, have access to the kitchen and free internet. Pretty cheap! Even though we all slept on the bus, there was still more time to sleep in the morning :)
After our short nap, we got up to eat some breakfast and then went out to one of the travel agencies to book a tour to see a Humboldt penguin colony and to see an observatory by night. Thanks to where we were staying, we received a discount on booking both the tours because of some connection that the owner of our hostel, Gladys, had with the tour agency. Visiting the old centre of La Serena takes no time at all as it
is only a few blocks around the main plaza. I quite liked the downtown core of the city. Beautiful, tiled streets, a well lit plaza, a market to buy all regional goods, stores, cafes... this place has everything is such a compact place. Being compact however, meant that we had extra time in the afternoon before our trip to the observatory so we walked down to the beach area to check out the lighthouse and relax a bit.
In the evening, a bus from the tour operator picked us up at our hostel and brought us to the Mamalluca Observatory outside of the town of Vicuna. The skies over northern Chile are suppose to be the clearest skies in the world, and this night would not disappoint. Our guide explained the southern ski to us in great detail and showed us objects, such as Saturn, star clusters, and red giants through a telescope. No North Star down here... just the Southern Cross to guide yourself around the southern ski. Most of the things I say were not new to me, but it did spur my interest in Astronomy again.
The next morning, the bus can for pick us
Recova Market in La Serena
Seemed to be a lot of stuff made from papayas in this market...jam, syrup, alcohol, etc..
up at our hostel to drive us to the village of Los Choros to visit a colony of Humboldt penguins, sea lions and maybe even some dolphins. The tour was conducted in a fishing boat and driven by the fisherman himself. Our guide was a biologist who was doing this job because there was nothing else for him to do. A biology major giving this kind of tour is a really good thing, as he was able to give us lots of information about everything. Not long in our journey out to the islands where would find all these animals, the dolphins started swimming around us looking for food, so they were not in a very playful mood :( We first made it to the sea lion colony and these creatures were pretty vocal. Not the first time I have seen these guys either, but still very impressive! On our way along the island to find the penguins, the dolphins came along again but this time were in a much more playful mood :) Still damn hard to take pictures of though. Where the penguins are usually, there were not too many of this day but there were still some
waddling along the coast line. Always exciting to see penguins! Off to another island we went, and this one we disembarked on to walk around it for an hour before jumping back in the boat to head back to Los Choros for lunch, which was included in the tour.
Too bad that we are on a tight schedule at the moment as Alejandro and Linnea have to be back in La Paz to work by next week, so we were off on another night bus to Antofagasta. However, I have to decided to revisit the city when heading south after my friends leave. I think I could call this place home!
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