Tongoy’s little Hotel Amaru


Looking across a muddy field, I saw a beat-up stone fence with a sign on it. I walked up, went through an entrance, and found a small paradise – three little bungalows set within manicured lawns and waterfront. The proprietor, Carlos, was fulfilling his lifelong dream of creating a tiny resort entirely devoted to the bird estuary and wetlands adjacent his property. These particular wetlands were a major stopping point for masses of migrating North American and Amazonian birds.

For three days I was in the realm of birds. Birds at a scale and with a beauty I never knew existed. Out of the north come 300 bright red-beaked “skimmers,” the entire flock flying an inch above the water’s surface, lower beak cutting the water’s surface to scoop up minnows.

I was the only guest, and spent all day learning from Carlos.

At lunch and dinner, I walked across town to an open air restaurant on the beach. Tables on the sand. No one was around there either, and I practiced Spanish with the waiters. On the way back, I sat for a bit in the dilapidated little town park and stared at the graffiti on the fence.