Saturday, August 15, 2015

8/11-12/15: Dad's Arrival and Punto de Chorros

Dad arrived today! His flight wouldn’t arrive until 12:40, so I slept in and just chilled in the morning. Cristian (my Couchsurfing host in La Serena) lives only about 4 blocks to the airport, so I walked there to get Dad. I hadn’t looked at a map since yesterday morning, so got a little lost, but found the way before he got here.

We went to the city center to finish doing whatever there was left to do. We walked around, saw some of the markets, visited the Regional Museum with lots of artifacts from Easter Island – I definitely want to go the next time I’m in Chile.

There was also a tiny one-room gallery of religious art in the church off the Plaza de Armas that took us only about 10-20 minutes to get through.

Unfortunately, we weren’t able to book a tour to anywhere due again to the weather conditions, but one tour agent was nice enough to teach me how to get to Punto de Choros independently for tomorrow, so that’s our plan for tomorrow!

We went to the supermarket to buy some food for breakfast the next morning, and then walked into a restaurant for dinner!

To get to Punto de Choros, we were supposed to be waiting at the bus/micro station starting at 8:30. The bus was supposed to leave by about 9, maybe a little later (god knows it always leaves later than advertised). However, the bus didn’t arrive until about 9:10, and the minibus that came was way too small to fit everyone who wanted to go. The driver tried to explain to me that it wouldn’t be possible to go to Isla Damas – the island off the coast with penguins and wildlife that makes the town a tourist destination – but I explained to him that we’d already bored ourselves with the nothing that could be done in La Serena itself, and that we would just go and check it out. To accommodate everyone, we then got in a collectivo to this guy’s house, in front of which he had parked a small bus.

The bus ride there was longer than I had expected – about 2 hours – and when we got there indeed, no tourists expect us were there. With the extra time it had taken to get to the guy’s house (we didn’t leave until about 10), we only had 2 hours to walk around. Luckily, with no tourists around, we were able to walk around the coast and just enjoy the beauty there. The ocean at that point looks really gorgeous, and there are several large stones that we could climb and explore. The shore actually reminded me a lot of the shore that I explored with the other Global Brigades interns in Ghana last summer.

When we headed back to the main harbor, we checked out some of the seaweed-like plants that the fishermen had brought it. A couple of them approached us about going to Isla Damas. I told them what the tour agents (multiple of them) had told me – the conditions of the ocean weren’t good enough. Apparently, though, they were. But to go to the island required at least 8-10 people, depending on the person that told me the information, otherwise for just two it would cost almost $120. That’s a real shame, because I’m sure it would have been really great to see the animals. If the tour agents hadn’t kept saying that, I wonder if we would have been able to do the independent tour.
Still, I think the trip was worth it – the view from the beach is great! We also got to see some birds that were just flying around, and had the whole area to ourselves.

When we got back, we were finally able to book a tour to the Elqui Valley for tomorrow (I was worried because there had been some rain on the way to Punto de Choros), and we bought a rotisserie chicken from the supermarket to eat for dinner, along with two avocados. There hadn’t been much else to eat at restaurants – just the typical empanadas, hamburgers, completos (hot dogs with avocado, tomatoes, and mayonnaise), and chicken. What we did ended up being a lot cheaper and healthier, which was a win on both parts. 

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