La Serena is a town nearish to the coast which is pretty uninteresting (well, nothing you haven’t seen before) but it is a launching pad for tours to interesting areas surrounding it.
The only photo we took of La Serena because you don’t visit La Serena to see La Serena.
Dona Juanita: Chile’s finest margarine in a bag. Many other strange things come in plastic bags too such as jam, yoghurt, mayonnaise and olives. I think there may be a jar shortage…
A two hour bus up the Pan American highway is the small town of Chorros, very close to the Isla Damas which is a protected penguin reserve. Eeeeeee penguins! The boat took us out to the island itself, circled another larger island crowded with birds and then took us out into the ocean to search for dolphins. Didn’t see any dolphins but a whale surfaced and snorted around our boat for a while.
The ‘shags’ were interesting because they are always in pairs, we didn’t see any single ones. They mate for life and have a permanent residence somewhere in the rocks. As there were hundreds of them some of their homes were just a tiny bump in the cliff they could grab onto.
Fun Fact: Boobies have frontwards eyes and extra strong necks so they can dive for fish.
The sea otters were tiny! We thought they were babies but the fully sized ones were only the size of a small cat. Urgh cats (you’ll find out about the cat next blog post). They were very shy so we could only get a few dodgy photos from a distance.
The home of pisco (aka pisco sours) according to Chileans…even though Peru has a town called Pisco… Depends on who you ask.
We went to a pisco distillery. As it turns out, pisco is just distilled wine. The red label uses local wood tanks and the fancy black label uses french oak barrels. Underneath the distillery, however, lies pure evil.
The actual story isn’t too far from that really. There is some legend that the boss of the distillery went away and when he came back he partied for several weeks with his friends in this dungeon with music and debauchery. He wrote poems for each of his friends and dedicated a niche in the wall to them full of wine (or pisco?) bottles. Nobody ever returned for their piles of wine/pisco and we are not even sure if there is anything in them. We heard the story mostly in spanish and didn’t really know what was going on down there.
Not sure if this mermerlada was bagged or jarred…should have investigated further.
For reasons as yet unknown to humankind a giant gas bottle was leading a Zumba class in the middle of town.
Next stop: San Pedro de Atacama a desert town high up in the mountains.