Monday, January 8, 2007

On the beach in Viña del Mar

For our second day in Chile we decided we had better hit the beach and do some swimming in the ocean. We took the metro from Villa Alemana straight to Viña del Mar on the Pacific coast. The trip took about 25 minutes and wove through deep valleys covered in cacti and massive succulents. Pretty impressive scenery for a public transit system. When we got to Viña del Mar it was hot, but we didn´t really notice it due to the lovely offshore breeze. We really noticed it that night when we realized we got some pretty sweet farmer´s tans! Wandering along the ocean front we spotted some huge animals in the sea, just off shore. Getting closer we realized they were pelicans. Unlike the ones we saw in California a few years ago, these ones were massive! We watched them glide just above the water in sets and then swoop up, become a straight point and dive in for a quick meal. It was an incredible sight. We could have watched them all day, but a thatched umbrella and lounge chairs were calling for us. The breakers were quite large and after a few minutes in the sun we jumped in. The push/pull of the tide was very strong and Sandra managed to get turned upside down more than once. It was a rollercoaster ride with the waves coming from ankle deep to suddenly over your head. And the water was cool and refreshing - not too unlike the summer temperatures on our beaches in Vancouver. We spent a good part of the day in and out of the sea, basking in the hot Chilean sunshine, and wandering along the beach we came to a massive pier filled with people fishing over the rails.

Some had poles, but most had a simple roll of line and a large hook that seemed to do the trick as we saw boxes of fish all over the place. Dusk came around 8pm and with it came the teenagers, musicians, gypsies, and street performers all crowding the boardwalk along Avenida Perú. The beaches were full of youngsters playing fútbol and footbag. The feeling of a festival was strong, but it was only a regular weekday night on the coast. It seemed like everybody was out and about enjoying the beauty around them and it was a blissful walk back to the metro and onward to our home away from home.

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