Over the holidays, we joined my sister in law and her family for a camping weekend. Pichidangui is located two and a half hours northwest of Santiago, and while it has several campgrounds and public beaches, it isn’t really a huge tourist destination.
The campgrounds are nothing special – numbered sites with concrete asados (grills), painted picnic tables, and a swath of ground for tents. There are ample toilets and showers, a little camp store that had everything (including kittens), and a large playground. The sites are pretty close together and there isn’t much brush or ground-cover. BUT…the campground we stayed at, Bahia Marina, was housed in a mature eucalyptus forest. With trees towering a hundred feet above us, every drift of wind brought us the delicate and fresh smell of eucalypti leaves.
Bahia Marina was located right beside the beach so a short walk through the eucalpyti trees brought up right up to the sand and waves.
We spent the entirety of the 31st at the beach. The kids splashed in the waves, went body-surfing, built sand castles and moats, and the adults lounged in the sun, drinking beers and reading. It was the perfect day. So perfect that even though I was burnt a brilliant blinding red for the rest of the trip, that one day made it worth while.
The following day, we took a day trip to the nearby towns of Totoralillo and Los Vilos. Both towns were poor and didn’t seem to have much industry beyond local fishing and scant tourism. In Los Vilos, I spent some time exploring the tidal pools on the rocky coastline. This was an activity I gained great appreciation for during undergrad when I took a course on Marine Biology. My school, Northestern University in Boston, MA, owned a marine research station that was located north of the city on the peninsula of Nahant. Once each week, I would take a series of trains and buses north for my three-hour long class, most of which was spent outside, wading in tidal pools.