|Valdivia and Puerto Montt|
We drove back down to Puerto Montt the way that we had come up, with a detour to visit the coastal town of Valdivia. Valdivia is a sleepy town on a bend in a river that leads to the sea. Some of its Victorian architecture survives, but it isn't really a tourist destination.
The most interesting feature was the covered market by the river. The tarpaulins spread over the metal frame of the structure colored the fish and vegetables garishly, but it was interesting to poke around and look at the unfamiliar whole fish and to compare the differences between North American varieties of fruits and vegetables and their locally grown counterparts.
Chilean Sea Bass (below)
Fish market (above); Assorted fish and shellfish (below)
The best part was finding a platform overlooking the backside of the fish stalls where the fish sellers were feeding the innards and scraps to seagulls, cormorants and seals. The seals would flounder up on the dock and bark until they were fed; they were cute, but they were also very fat. The cormorants would land on the railing, carefully keeping out of the way of the seals and the fish sellers, and beg food as though they were chicks. We saw one hop into a pail of garbage and gorge itself before it was chased off by the proprietor. The seagulls would fly along side and hover and try to steal the pieces that were tossed to the seals. If one caught a strip of fish, there would be an aerial battle as all the other seagulls tried to steal it for themselves.
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