When the things don’t work out the way you want but you still enjoy it – in La Serena
After visiting the beaches of Viña del Mar and the cool town of Valparaiso, I made my way to La Serena. I took a bus at 22.45 from Valparaiso and I arrived to La Serena at 5.30 am the following morning – on the 21st of March 2012.
I could not sleep on the bus at all. Weird! I was so looking forward to spend another night on the bus as I enjoyed my trips in Patagonia before. But this time, I didn’t know how to sit/lie down to fall asleep. I guess I was just restless and a bit nervous as the guy from Couchsurfing who was supposed to host me, turned out to be a proper asshole so I decided not to stay with him and the night before hopping on the bus I told him so and just took a photo of the map of La Serena centre to know where to go to find some hostels.
Yeah, to say I was a bit pissed off would be an understatement. If I knew it, I could have talked to other people on Couchsurfing before or just to send a couple of emails and get free accommodation in exchange of my reviews. Like this I did not have anything booked and I even had to pay for it! Lovely!
So I arrived to La Serena at 5.30 am, I bought a ticket straight away to San Pedro de Atacama for the following night and so cut off my 3 days in La Serena to just 1 night and 2 days. It fit both me and the guy from San Pedro, my new host, who told me to come already on the 23rd instead of the 24th March 2012.
I asked a taxi driver the way to the centre and started walking that way.
I was looking at all the hostels and lodgings on the way but or they were all closed until 8.30 am or 9 am, or full. I took a pee behind one of the big trees at the street with the backpack and the bag and the camera bag on me as I couldn’t make it for any longer. Yes, I learnt how to do it with 30 kg on my back. I walked to Francisco de Aguirre road and decided to sit down there in the park surrounded by white statues and wait for another 2 hours for the hostels to open.
Now, I was completely in a peaceful and good mood which I didn’t understand myself. But why to get stressed if traveling is something like this – adventures? I ate my banana and went online on my mobile phone (yes, the first month of free limited Entel internet). Three dogs came and sat by me. I must have looked like homeless. It got a bit windy and cold so I put a jacket on and sat on my thick trousers I used while hiking to Glacier Martial.
After 5 minutes I saw a security guy from the building in front of me to walk towards me. I was expecting him to say something like I couldn’t stay there, but he came with a smile on his face and asked me if I wanted a cup of tea or coffee 🙂
Of course I said yes! He walked me to the Ministry of Education, the building where he worked, he switched off the cameras so he didn’t have problems because of me, and together with another security guy they made me a cup of hot tea and tried to get the password for wifi for me. They didn’t find the password, but at least I was very comfortable on the sofa, sipping my tea and writing an article about the hard life of the miners in Lota and preparing the photos for the Southernmost town Ushuaia article. And I could go to normal toilet like a human being and not somewhere in the bushes!
At 8.30 am I took my stuff and walked around some hostels. Found a nice one, not the cheapest one though but for 10,000 pesos got a room with 2 beds for myself, with breakfast and wifi in Hostal Pacifico. Very clean, with a huge living room where I waited on a sofa for my room to get ready for me at 12 pm. I was online and really enjoyed it. Scheduled 2 articles and ate. Once I got my room, I took a nap of an hour.
Then I walked around the town, it is full of churches, there is one every 5 minutes of walking, such as Cathedral, Iglesia Santo Domingo, Iglesia San Francisco, Iglesia San Agustin or Iglesia La Merced. But after visiting so many wooden churches in Quinchao Island and those during the ride through Chiloe island, I didn’t feel like visiting any more churches so I just took some photos from the outside. I visited Plaza de Armas which is always the main square in almost every town in Chile. There was a nice fountain and children playing. I liked the vivid atmosphere of the town with many students and no tourists.
I had lunch in thee cheapest restaurant I found CC Herrera at Balmaceda street where for 1,200 pesos (less than 2 euro) you got bread and the main course after just 3 minutes of waiting. I asked for fried fish with rice and salad and was served by a guy who tried to look like a girl. He was not operated yet, he just behaved like a girl. He/she was the first of this kind I saw in South America and reminded me of Thailand.
When I bought some food for dinner in Santa Isabel supermarket, I went back to the hostel to leave it in the fridge, put my bikini on and walked some 25 minutes to the beach. Through Francisco de Aguirre street I came directly to Faro Monumental – the Lighthouse which is a famous icon of La Serena town and found a space to lie down on the beach. It was very easy, there were just a few people at kilometres of the beach. I wanted to sunbathe and swim but it was not that hot, was windy and with waves as everywhere on the West Pacific coast of Chile, so not good for swimming. So I took a nap and wrote my diary.
On the way back, when it started to get chilly, I wanted to visit Jardin Japones – Japanese Garden, a nice park, but they close at 6 pm. Shame! But anyway, to pay 1,000 pesos just to enter a park is something I don’t like. Parks should be free!
So again I went to the hostel and spent the whole night watching my Slovak TV series and talking to a guy from Lima from next door who went to buy me Lays chips when he saw me watching a movie, so sweet 🙂
I went to sleep at 00.30 am, so soon after ages! And set up my alarm clock at 9.30 am to have breakfast. I slept like a baby, so needed it! Enjoyed fresh hot bread with marmalade for breakfast as usually I eat porridge with fruit 😀
There was not much to see in the town as I didn’t feel like going up any of the miradores – viewpoints (e.g. Cerro Grande, Campus Colina El Pino) nor visiting the museums (Museo Arqueologico de La Serena, Museo Historico Gabriel Gonzalez Videla, Museo de Arte Religioso) so I talked with my mum on skype. As always, she made my day!
I was hungry again, yes, I could eat 24/7, so I went again to the same restaurant and ordered my favorite cazuela de ave – chicken soup. Bought some expensive dried fruit at the street, walked around the market at Francisco de Aguirre with Balmaceda street and walked a bit around the Museo al Aire Libre – Open Air Museum at Francisco de Aguirre street with 30 white statues from European and Chilean sculptors. Yeah, the same place where I waited the previous morning.
My plan was to spend the afternoon at the beach to get some tan as for the next 2 months I will not go to any beach until somewhere in Peru. But it was cold and cloudy, so I couldn’t go. Yeah, another thing that didn’t turn out like I wanted. Actually nothing did in La Serena. I didn’t even go to visit Coquimbo town. And until 5.20 pm, I was online again, cooked spaghetti and packed. After 10 minutes walking I got to the bus station and took a bus at 6.30 pm to San Pedro de Atacama which was late 25 minutes.
So this is how I spent 2 days in La Serena, the second oldest town in Chile after Santiago, founded by Juan Bohon in 1544 and refounded by Francisco de Aguirre in 1549. I did pretty much nothing and still enjoyed my stay in here. Nothing worked out the way I wanted, didn’t get any tan and didn’t see the places I planned to. But sometimes, days like this are needed when traveling. And I don’t regret it. I enjoyed it.