Saturday, 22 May 2010
Week 3 - La Serena, 2 days of coach travel & Kissing!
Hello everyone, I am now in one of the most surreal places I think I have ever been to (San Pedro de Atacama), in the very north of Chile, in the desert! But more of such tales next time. Before I head off to the warm salt lakes and watch the sunset in 'moon valley', I have time to recount my tales of getting here!
There is no talk of OT now, it's just funny travel stories for the next week or two! So after my wonderfully homely stay in Conception, I took a bus at 11:30 on Wednesday, which got me into Santiago at around 18:00. With no bus available for La Serena for a few hours, I ate a quick Mcpollo sandwich (yes from MacDonalds), and used the internet of a while. My next bus took me from Santiago at around 20:00, and arrived in La Serena at 02:30 Thursday morning. Now, arriving in a small town in Chile at 02:30 is not really recommended, especially as most of the hostels listed are closed from midnight to 7am. So after checking out three very closed hostels, I gave in to staying at the only open hotel I could find (whilst carrying all my worldly goods remember!). I found a place for 18,000 pesos (25 pounds), though he only charged me 15,000 - good job seeing as I´d be checking out in a matter of hours! A tiny tiny room, that even a child dwarf would struggle to spin round in, at least offered me a comfy bed, a similarly tiny TV, and somehow a fully sized wardrobe! I got a few hours sleep, before getting up and having an amazing hot shower, which more than made up for the hobbit style room! I quickly returned to the bus station to buy a ticket for that evening at 22:05 to get to San Pedro.
So I now found myself with 10 hours to kill in La Serena, and as the overcast skies seemed to tease me with rain, I had an idea. Always when in doubt, alone in a strange place, and short of inspiration there is only one place to go! The town square! known here as the Plaza de Armous (spelt incorrectly!). I was not to be disappointed, as there was some kind of official parade going on, with what seemed like military personal parading past some high ranking officers (I could tell this from their uniforms), and then just as I got my camera ready for some pictures, the parade changed drastically from military personnel to school kids... I started to feel a little uncomfortable taking pictures of hoards of kids in their school uniform, so I quickly moved on! But here's a few photos I did take before being escorted away by the police!
So I had come to La Serena as I was told there was a lovely beach! Just what I needed I thought! There may have been little sunshine, but I was determined to get there, and a tall white lighthouse led me to the following scenes.... I´ll let the pictures tell the story, because otherwise my review of the place will get me into a lot of trouble with the Chilean tourist board!
I was after to meet a lady from La Serena ( but I didn't know it at the time), and I was saying how crap I thought the beach was - to which her response was - 'well it´s nice in summer' - well those comments were about as useful as a chocolate tea pot I thought as seeing how we are now in Autum/Winter here in Chile!
I soon returned to the town, as the local stray dogs looked like they eyeing me up for dinner, and I was fed up of interrupting couples kissing every ten metres or so on the way to and from the beach. I did stop to watch a very local football match that was happening opposite the University, and was clearly very one-sided. I saw one team hit 3 goals in twenty minutes! The town of la Serena had some quaint little streets, churches, markets and numerous places to eat, and so I can imagine it is a nice place to be in summer, but I was glad to be heading on.
With yet more time to kill, I headed to another little backpacker's hideaway - the Mall. I was able to look around, get an ice cream, and even find a bookstore with internet. I had a brilliant quick skype chat with a Colombian OT, before finally heading back to collect my bag, and get my bus!
This bus was supposed to be at 22:05, it actually arrived about 22:20, and had me worried that I missed it already. On the bus (Tur-bus) they gave us a little snack - a sandwich, drink and crisps, nice touch I thought, before we all were given a blanket and pillow, and a kind of half sleep let me drift off. Over 12 hours later we had finally arrived.. well I thought we had, only for the driver to start telling me something in Spanish, and giving me a piece of paper with a number on it. I was told to get off the bus and wait... it turned out that we were not quite at my destination, despite 12 hours on the bloody bus already. We had stopped in some god forsaken town in the desert, and had another 4+ hours to go! Oh My God! I was not a happy bunny! But with no choice, but to use the break for a quick toilet stop, I made the most of this 30+ min refuelling break. I now had learned to carry my own toilet paper, but it didn't stop me stealing half a roll from the toilet block - I mean come on, you just never know here!
Ok, I´ll leave the news from San Pedro for another time, but I do want to have a little rant (moan) about all the kissing here! I spoke with a Canadian mining engineer about this, who has lived in Chile for almost 2 years. At first seeing all these apparently happy couples (of all ages) kissing in almost every public place conceivable, is kind of sweet! On the street, in the subway (even when you are almost sandwiched between them), and in every park there are kissing couples! I´m all for public displays of affection, but this goes to the next level, of what I am used to seeing. Maybe it's because I´m traveling solo, or maybe because I´m not used to such open snogging, it's just that people seem to give each other free dental checks with their tongues EVERYWHERE you go! There is just no escape! Ok rant over!
Enjoy the pics from La Serena and especially pics form the bus ride through the desert!
Regards from Chile.