A Plethora of marine life!

Trip Start Jan 04, 2010
Trip End Mar 23, 2010

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Where I stayed
Hotel Cid

Flag of Chile  ,
Tuesday, February 2, 2010

So our 17 hour bus to La Serena was actually quite manageable. We were both able to sleep for most of the night and woke up fresh and ready to explore the city. We didn't have any reservation but were able to find a room at Hotel Cid, a nice three star that came well recommended in Trip Advisor. The hotel is run by a Scottish man, who we started calling Angus (behind his back). Very nice man who looks a lot like Saint Nick and who was always around to give us recommendations, directions and even some history about Chile.

Before coming to Chile we had been warned from multiple sources that Chilean food wasn't anything to write home about. However, we were pleasantly surprised with the quality of our meals in San Pedro and started to think that Chilean cuisine had been unfairly judged by global food snobs. Our theory was that if you stick with the staples, in Chile's case empanadas, it would be a sure bet. We had been treated to an incredible empanada , a calozon like creation, a couple days earlier and were excited to see how La Serena's varieties matched up. So that evening we found a quiet little establishment above the local market to satisfy our craving. Unfortunately I think we fell into a bit of a tourist trap.  Everytime we tried to order somethin on the menu, they were conveniently out, but had something twice the price available.  The empanada arrived and it tasted like rotting fish and had pieces of shell in it. It was so bad we actually had to buy a pack of gum to get the taste out of our mouths. Lesson learned - when a country has a reputation for bad food it's probably well deserved.

The following morning we woke up bright and early to take a tour to Isla Dama - the reason for our stop in La Serena. Our tour operator was Eco Tourism (great company) and our guide was a Swedish born Spanish guy who looked and acted exactly like Shannon's brothers good friend Dusty (see picture below), so we called him "Spanish Dusty" for the rest of the tour.

In this area of the ocean there is what they call a Humboldt current (a cold current) that produces perfect conditions for lots of biodiversity.The tour drove us to a little seaside town where we got into a tiny fishing boat (all 14 of us) and headed out to see some marine-life.   The ocean was quite rough with some pretty huge waves so needless to say we were a little nervous (but at least we were wearing lifejackets). After about 15 minutes of riding the waves we came across a school of bottle-nosed dolphins. So fun seeing them jump in and out of the water playing around the boat! A few minutes later we moved closer to an island with even more marine-life...this time sea lions! Most were lounging around napping (they sleep 20 hours a day), but we did see some swimming too. We even saw some huuuuuge males who only hang around the group during mating season (men, eh?). Very close by on the same island we saw tons of Humboldt penguins. Very cool! From there we headed over to isla dama for some chill time on the beach, then headed back to land. We had a nice lunch and then headed off to return to town! Another great trip!

After another amazing day trip we decided to relax the next day in preparation for our next long bus trip to Mendoza Argentina (wine country at last!). We are a little nervous as it is thirteen hours and we are in regular class, which means less space and seats that don't recline much. Wish us luck!!!
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