Sunday June 30: La Serena
A Lot of Bees
I was off a day. Tomorrow we'll spend the day in La Serana, and on Tue is the eclipse.
Last night was not a good night. For the first time on the trip, I did not sleep well. I slept OK for the first half of the night, but when I awoke around 3am as I have been doing, I never managed to fall asleep again. My best guess was that perhaps it was a bit too warm? We couldn't get the A/C to work. Perhaps they turn it off for the winter. I had opened the window while we were up, but I closed it when we went to bed.
Interestingly, I was talking with another client, and she said that she slept poorly because she was freezing. It would be funny if our room was too warm and hers was too cold.
When we went down for breakfast, about halfway through, I noticed that they had a large water-bubbler style of water jug that people were using to fill up water bottles. I think that this was probably what the guy had been trying to say to Amy, so we could have gotten the bottled water without having to pay for it.
We got up and out with no problems. I tried dozing a bit on the bus as we left. I might have waited a bit longer because we spent a lot of time on the bus, and in most places the scenery was not that interesting--sort of like the American west--a lot of dry scrub.
We drove for about 3 hours, I think. They had brought coffee and water for tea, and they had some muffins, but by the time I decided to check it out, the hot water had run out.
We stopped at this place for lunch. This was one of the few lunches they were providing. As seems somewhat typical, it was a very large lunch. We first got a sort of vegetable course, and then this was followed by a big slab of beef and some rice. I'm not normally a big beef person, but I thought that the beef was wonderful. It was tender and tasty, not chewy at all. Afterwards, there was dessert. There was also a patio outside with a good view of the valley below, which seemed to be an agricultural area.
One casualty was that when Amy was getting off the bus, she stumbled and fell, and ended up cutting up the palm of one hand.
One interesting incident is that we were talking to the people across the table from us. She used sun screen all the time, and I admitted that I should but didn't. Then I said something to the effect that this means that I'll probably die of skin cancer in 20 years and that she won't. She replied to the effect "I hope so". Then there was a slight pause and she realized how it might be taken; i.e. rather than hoping she wouldn't get skin cancer, she seemed to be saying that she was hoping that I would. Of course it was an innocuous remark, but it was funny seeing her get embarrassed.
After lunch, we drove a short distance to a large and apparently fairly new winery. We got a short tour, which wasn't much, and then we had a wine tasting. I thought it was going to be a little bit of a lot of wines, but it was really just a small glass of a white, and red, and a sparkling wine. Apparently these were fairly good wines, but I personally didn't much care for them. They also had trays of food. I liked the goat cheese and crackers, and the cherry tomatoes. I tried something which I thought was essentially a gummy candy, although I was surprised that they would include something like that. I found out later that it was actually candied papaya.
After this, we again drove a short distance to view some ancient petroglyphs. I found this a bit underwhelming. Most were barely recognizable as anything. Much more interesting was a large bee hive, pretty much exposed, nestled between two large rocks. It was about a foot wide by maybe two feet tall, and it had the honeycomb just sitting there exposed. I was rather surprised, because I don't think there are a lot of flowers around most of the year. Perhaps because of the cold, or because the sun had just set, but the bees were pretty much staying in/on the hive and not flying about.
All day long, we had been driving through a lot of nothing. It reminded me of driving from Great Basin to Yosemite out west. We were heading for La Serena, and we were wondering what it would be like. We saw some lights on the horizon, and we thought that perhaps it was our destination, but we drove past it.
Then at one point we crested a ridge, and in front of us there were lights as far as one could see. It was a fairly large city. I thought that obviously this was La Serena, but it turns out that first there was a port, and then when we went a bit further north, it turned into La Serena.
While we were driving, I overheard the staff talking to a few couples. They were going to be staying elsewhere from the rest of us. I was thinking that they drew the short straw, but now I think they they drew the long one. They are apparently staying where the other group (the one going to Atacama) is staying. We're staying in "cabins", which are essentially mini-apartments. There is a downstairs with a kitchenette, and an upstairs with two bedrooms and a bath.
This place is not the greatest, despite how it first looked. There is no real heat in the place and it is fairly cool. There is a portable propane heater, but the directions are all in Spanish, and I couldn't figure out how to get it to work. Perhaps the propane tank is empty. I'm wondering if I'm going to be too cold tonight.
The toilet valve was disconnected from the lever, and I had to fix it. But then Amy plugged up the toilet. I just called the guy over, and he apparently is off searching for a plunger.
To make matters more interesting, I had overheard the person talking to the people going to the other place saying that they should dress warmly, and bring sunscreen. They also said something about a penguin tour.
So I asked our guide after we had checked in. He said to meet at 9 with pretty much what we wore today. However, when we came back from dinner, we found a note on our door saying to meet at 8, wear warm clothes, and bring sunscreen. So I don't know what is going on, or exactly how warmly to dress.
Our breakfast looks like some bread, butter, and jam, and three things of yogurt.
It is almost 11, and I would want to be heading off to bed, but we're still waiting for the guy to come back to deal with the toilet.
I can't help but think that the other group is staying at a better place (we couldn't stay there because there wasn't enough room). I hope that I am not too cold to sleep tonight.
Actually, things just got more interesting. I ran into our neighbors and asked if I could use their toilet. It turns out that they have no power. Also, it seems that we had that note on our door, but no one else that I talked with has one. So I don't know what the significance of that is.
The guy just plunged our toilet, and he is in the process of replacing our propane tank. I went to tell Sam that the toilet was now available, but she is already asleep.