A deliciously lazy start to the day with a breakfast at a decadent 9:30 and still being sat at the breakfast table at 10:30! Travelling is an amazing experience but it is rare to have a slow start to the day and we both enjoy our “sleep-in” (a little more fun with the Anglo-American language).
The computer, a sofa and log burning stove are more than sufficient to pass the rest of the morning as we upload some of Nik’s beautiful photos to the blog and make arrangements to visit the Bolivian Salt Flats. We also start to look at how we get fit in some time in San Pedro de Aticama in northern Chile after 3 separate guests at our accommodation recommend it….suddenly 3 months in S.America is feeling awfully short!
The new Anglo-American partnership is again chauffeured into town ahead of our afternoon trip to see penguins and we arrive to find a rather unusual protest in the town plaza. There are lots of pairs of shoes recently painted red scattered over the pavement in what we think is a way to highlight the impact of domestic violence though the hand written notes on the floor beneath some of the shoes are not that clear.
Lunch in Cafe Tapiz follows. A really great place that offers kooky interior design, old big band music playing on the stereo, Twinning’s English Breakfast tea and great food. Food in S.America, and Chile in particular, has cheese as a fairly consistent ingredient – though strangely they don’t appear to have a particularly wide variety of types. Whilst cheese is a wonderful food sometimes you need a break so in attempt to avoid it Niki orders tomato soup….epic failure as it arrives with melting strings of cheese stirred in.
A minibus takes us on an hours drive outside town to see a penguin colony and we meet another american on the bus – Beth from Minnesota in the Mid-West (despite being in the middle of the country). Like Joe and Kristina, Beth has been in S.America for a few months and is soon to head back to the US after completing her exchange programme as part of her undergrad in communications.
Beth hopes to go into journalism once she graduates and does a bit of sports journalism already (and unusually for an american plays rugby and ‘soccer’). We have a brief discussion about sports during which I mention cricket, which returns a wonderfully comic response from Beth as she confuses it with Polo – I don’t think that lack of knowledge of cricket is going to be a barrier to a career in US Sports Journalism.
The colony is home to Magellenic Penguins that are unique in the penguin world as they live underground in burrows. Wind swept is a huge understatement when describing the location and as a result the wind chill factor is significant, so much so that the 1 hour 15 minutes we have feels about right. There were one or two scattered round the scrub land slight in shore, but at this time of the day the adults are returning to shore after collecting food to feed the young and when you get to the beach there are around 100 of the beautiful creatures.
Young penguins still have a furry coat and are mostly lying flat to the ground whilst the adults are stood on the beach, walking in the amusing way that only penguins and Charlie Chaplin can pull off or playing in the surf. Whilst I think you see far more on the island this is a great experience and we can get within 10 metres of some of them – particularly the four that walked off the beach back to their burrow trying their best to recreate the Abbey Road album cover.
After the tour Beth joins us for dinner and the 5 of us eat in a restaurant called La Marmita (sadly for Niki they don’t serve any Marmite inspired dishes). Another lovely evening of great food and conversation – with the topic of language and cultural differences between the UK and the US, and even within the US (with San Fransisco, Alaska and Minnesota represented) causing amusement and laughter.
Back at the B&B the four of us take a ‘selfie’ on Mauricio’s phone and set it as his home screen before exchanging details and saying our goodbyes.