Penguins, Shoes and Stars

La Serena Travel Blog

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A couple of lost penguins on the right
Heading on south we spent 3ish very enjoyable days in and around La Serena. The city itself was relaxing to wander around, with no real sights to see. We even made it down to the beach and the disused lighthouse that looks like a castle. Oh and we did visit the mall, very flash and definitely evidence that Chile is a lot more developed than elsewhere we've been!

Sunday was spent in a bus to a small fishing town, where we caught a boat with a dozen others into the Humboldt Penguin reserve. Good couple of hours cruising the waves to find sealions and the penguins on an island. Humboldt penguins are very small and constantly look like they're lost or don't know what they're doing, or at least that's how it appeared to us.
Dying leather
Sadly no dolphins to be seen, our guide informed us that they were probably off fishing and would return to the area later to sleep. How these things are known is beyond me. The trip also included a stop on Isla Damas, with its beautiful white sand and clear green waters - very relaxing. Extremely tasty local fish and chips for lunch mid afternoon, before a nap in the bus on the way back to La Serena.

Monday morning Sarah made a pair of shoes, as you do. We were staying at a fun little guesthouse in La Serena that had a resident cobbler called Pancho and his workshop. I had been hoping that we would head off to Vicuña mid morning, but as Sarah was busy hammering, dying and glueing, I just had to wait. It was fascinating to see the process from start to finish - Pancho measured feet, cut the soles and straps before it was over to Sarah.
Finished product
Pattern on the shoes was picked, then hammered into the strap, colour picked and then every piece of leather was dyed, various parts glued and then left in the sun for a while. Pancho guided every step of the way, before taking over to fit the thicker rubber sole and apply the finishing touches. 2 hours after starting and result = a new pair of blue leather sandals for Sarah.

Finally made it to Vicuña by 3pm and grabbed a completo for lunch (hot dog smothered in tomato, mayo and guacamole). 8pm Monday evening we were at the office of Observatorio Cerro Mamalluca waiting for a shuttle bus to take us to the observatory. Full moon meant that observing stars wasn't as easy as normal, but didn't stop us from seeing some pretty cool stuff. Our guide had an answer to any and every question we could think of and enjoyed using the main computer controlled telescope to show us Jupiter (and 3 of its moons), a nebula, Alpha Centauri (nearest star to the Sun) and the moon.
The moon!
The fact that the whole domed roof rotated too meant I was like a little kid. We then headed outside to use another telescope, seeing clusters, nebulae and again the moon up close. As our guide was an astronomy photographer he took some photos of the moon with our cameras to finish with, pointing out where the flag is etc. Found out loads of info and generally had an amazing time star gazing - highly recommended, though made us a little depressed that we live in London with its light pollution.

And that's about us so far. The journey continues south, next stop Viña del Mar and Valparaiso.

t3dvb says:
Hi there! Well the sandals are definitetly worth it Luke, so hope you weren't too disappointed by the wait?! Here there has been the highest rainfall in November ever recorded. Lots of flooding around but not enough for school to be closed. Love the picture of the moon. Dad will think that's very cool.

Take care of yourselves - not long to go now before you can unpack your backpacks.
Miss you lots
love Mum xxx
Posted on: Dec 02, 2009
bandrcarey says:
Wow you two, what a great time you are having and we so admire the diversity of it all from sandal making to astronomy, you are certainly getting to grips with the enormity of all God's creation and some his continuing creation. Bless you and enjoy these very last days in such a different and beautiful part of our world.
Its raining now ready to be fine next week!
I am just off for our last early communion service of the year.
Tomorrow is my last day at school!
Love Mum
Posted on: Dec 02, 2009
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A couple of lost penguins on the r…
A couple of lost penguins on the …
Dying leather
Dying leather
Finished product
Finished product
The moon!
The moon!
La Serena
photo by: wendermilliken