We calmed down after the wild rush at Valparaiso with the help of an 8-hour bus ride towards La Serena. La Serena is a city, that is situated about 1200 km away from our final destination, the Atacama Desert. It has a 22 km long beach. It is also close to the observatory Mamalluca.
We settled in and, even before visiting the city center, we arranged ourselves a visit to the observatory that same evening. The streets look like the Bulgarian pedestrian zones so it was no surprise that we crossed the street at a red light, thinking that it was safe. The drivers seemed used to that kind of antics and were not impressed at all. We ate, pulled sweaters over our heads and headed for the observatory.
Our goal was to observe the southern starry skies guided by a professional astronomer. We used our naked eyes but also took advantage of one of the telescopes. This part of Chile is one of the few areas in the world where it is dark enough to see a lot of near and distant stars. The dark is preserved by cars turning off their headlights and continuing on only on hazard lights. The telescope becomes unnecessary. We had never seen so many stars, such a Milky Way and nebulas visible to the naked eye. For obvious reasons we don’t have photographic material, but we have the precious memory, which we’ll never forget. Without us noticing 1 AM came around and before we got home it was almost 3 AM.
|Weird, but it is not a pedestrian zone|
The weather in La Serena, just like in Valparaiso, was warm, but cloudy from the morning to 3-4 o’clock in the afternoon. After that with an uncanny accuracy the clouds disappeared and the sun shone in the blue sky. It was time to visit the beach.
We watched the sunset from the balcony of the hostel, because just before we had to get our photos taken for the Bolivian visas. The photographic studio was one of a kind – they took our pictures with an old camera looking uncannily like a soap dish and within a minute we each had 6 shoddily cut pictures. Also the hairdresser was absolutely unique. Snip-snip with slightly dubious scissors and comb and we were ready for a professional photo session – that’s what we get for that price.
It is time for dinner and we are preparing to see the penguins tomorrow. La Serena turned out to be a calm and pleasant city with many churches and a huge beach, not to mention the beauty that can be observed within an hour or two of the city.
This article was brought to you in English by Marta Petrova.
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