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Day 8 - Burning feet & Stargazing in La Serena

CHILE | Thursday, 25 January 2007 | Views [2575]

La Playa = beach. My feet = burnt to a crisp due to the black sand here which retains heat like nothing else. I reckon we could have cooked lunch on the sand!

Today we went to the local beach here in La Serena which is a 30 minute hike from our hostel, only to reach the swimming area to be confronted by a 20 foot sign reading "It is not allowed to swim on this beach" (the Chileans best attempt at Spanglish :) but we swam anyway as the locals were out in the water. I didnt have confidence in the lifesaver on the beach as all he had was one of those plastic life preservers like Pamela Anderson used to hold back in Baywatch days.

The water was not what i expected, murky brown but not dirty as such, but ice cool which was a nice change from the dirt sand that we trekked through to get to the water. Its amazing to look to the horizon and at one end see the water for miles and then the other you can see the mighty Andes stretching around the coast. I still am amazed each time i see the outlook of the Andes as back home im used to a flat horizon.

After the beach we ate the Chilean equivalent of a meat pie for lunch, the empiñada. Its like a mixed bag of spiced meat, olives, eggs, veggies & if you ARE REALLY LUCKY you get sultanas in yours as well. Like most things it sounds strange but tastes quite good. Doesn´t quite beat a four n twenty though! Ang and i sat in the shade and watched the myriad of Chilean mullets walk by - i have never seen so many mullet haircuts in my entire life and i have been to Cessnock & Kurri......

In the afternoon we walked to the local Mercardo del mar (fish markets) and bought a massive fish for bbq dinner. Its called the reinetta, which is the local speciality. The old fish monger was bang on with his recommendation - we enjoyed the fish on the bbq for tea which had the appearance of tuna but tasted like the best salmon you can buy in Oz. I think we paid the equivalent of $2 AUD for 4 large fillets. We laughed at the bloke from Newcastle, UK who burnt the crap out of his whole dinner after us. Those guys really dont have much idea when it comes to the barbie!

At 9pm we were picked up to head out to the Astrological Observatory in nearby Viñcuna (about 62ks from La Serena). In typical south american style we drove for about 20 ks and then stopped in a dark alley where the driver asked for all our payments for the night (we had previously paid a deposit) before he would drive any further. We are getting used to this kind of dodgy behaviour now though so it didnt freak us out.

We arrived in Viñcuna after driving through some of the Andes which are just amazing at night. The town has recentñy switched all its light globes to ensure the best star gazaing from the observatory. When we booked the tickets in the afternoon we made the mistake of calling the tour the "mamaloco" tour (which means mums crazy) instead of the "mamalluco" tour (which is the name of the observatory) but the Chilean guy at the office didnt mind too much and had a chuckle at our expense.

The observatory was amazing - imagine huge black mountains covered in fog sourrounding a huge white building with 5 or 6 great telescopes that allow you to see all the stars. Aparently the star gazing is even better in Galapagos so we cant wait to compare. We spent 4 hours there looking at the 88 constellations, seeing the moon up close (i got a great photo through the telescope), seeing Saturn and leaning about Orion and all the different twinklers in the sky.

AT 1am we met back at the bus and out mate Herñando treated us to snack time (which included their version of twisties, chips & nuts all in the one packet....hmmmm) and a Pisco sour which was the strongest ive tried. Its like limoncello i guess - the kind of drink that surprises your throat with how strong it is!

After a long trip home we crashed into bed at 2.30am and were grateful (once again) for the late starts here in Chile.

Until next time, keep watching the sky!


Stargazing at Mamalluca Obervatory, La Serena

Stargazing at Mamalluca Obervatory, La Serena

Tags: Beaches & sunshine

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