With the sea wolves in Valdivia

We were unsure where to go from Pucon as we wanted to pass by Chiloe on our way South but we were not particularly drawn to Puerto Montt and Puerto Varas – as far as we knew the most interesting thing about them were the surrounding parks, but we had already set our minds on the parks further south.

So we bought oursevles some bus tickets to Valdivia, the city of sea food and sea lions. We knew there was a direct bus from there to Chiloe and we hoped we could get an overnight the same day. It was supposed to be a 3hr ride, but the bus broke down in the middle of nowhere so it became more like a 4.5hr ride. We were shocked by how calm people were when the bus conductor came to tell us we’ll be stranded there for a while. Some of them were even able to joke about it: ‘So are you gonna give us any coffee?’

When we got to Valdivia on Wednesday afternoon we were in for a surprise: the next bus to Chiloe was on Friday! We did not want to spent all that time in Valdivia, plus we wanted to head South as soon as possible, so we got some tickets to Puerto Montt instead as the buses from there to Chiloe were supposed to be much more frequent. We had a few hours to explore Valdivia so off we went, following Boca’s directions, to see the sea wolves.

And indeed we saw them! It was the first time any of us were seeing sea wolfs in their natural habitat, and we were delighted to spend some time chatting with them. They seemed to do nothing but sleep and occasionally play (although their play looked more like a fight), but even those moments were very short as the heavy mammals quickly got tired and had to rest again. Considering their massive bodies and very little flippers, that was no surprise at all! It appeared so difficult to even move on land (although we know they did pretty well in water)… It was for that reason that Boca and I decided that given a choice, we would not want to be sea lions… :p

After saying good bye to our friends we moved over to the seafood market, where we were overwhelmed by the huge variety and oddness of the creatures fished from the sea. It was again something we had never seen before, and we were walking around in awe. We were so shocked by how cheap the things were as compared to other places and we ended up buying a smoked trout which turned out to be delicious. We were hungry enough by this point, so we walked into the first restaurant we came across and Boca got to finally order her Curanto – a specific Chilean seafood dish she had eyed and was determined to have!

Our bus was at 6pm and it was now past 5. We knew it would take us about half an hour to walk back, so we thought we’d eat quickly and then hop on a cab. When our food eventually arrived we were shocked by the huge size of the portions. We’re not ones to waste food though, so we struggled to finish and at 5.40 we left the restaurant with our bellies double in size and the wallet much lighter (even though the seafood dishes were cheaper than in other countries, we still paid double what we were used to paying in Chile). We started back and kept hoping at least a taxi would pass by. Ten minuted later we were still walking, and this time with a bit more anxiety about whether we would catch that bus or not. It was around this time that I started running – not an activity you’d want to do with a full stomach, a backpack AND a frontpack. It must have been quite a sight!

When I was close to the terminal I took the wrong path and found myself on the wrong side of a 1 meter fence. I quickly evaluated how long it would take me to go around, and that was not an option. So I gathered all my strenght and jumped the fence, just in time to see the shocked face of the security guard on the other side. Surely this was not a scene he got to see every day :).

It was 5.58 when I got in front of the bus and, gasping for air, I told the bus conductor we’re supposed to be on that bus and my friends are on their way. Later, when on the bus, Boca looked at me: ‘So I saw you starting running… and I thought to myself God… what did she eat???’

Ah, such a fun day! We were so happy we had decided to go through Valdivia, even though things didn’t turn out as planned. But who cares about plans anyway, when there’s so much more excitement from surprises!:)

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