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Published: December 2nd 2012
Most of the next day was spent on the bus to La Serena. As we mentioned before the buses in chile are lovely and comfortable, and although it was an 8 hour journey, it was not too traumatic! A far cry from our early morning experience on the local buses where we nearly got thrown through the doors with our backpacks on, trying to walk up the bus as the driver threw it round the corners! The only problem with the long distance bus was that despite the fancy headphone systems and tv's the films were not only dubbed in Spanish, but with Spanish subtitles, big problems hey!
When we arrived in La Serena, we made the easy walk to the hostel. The hostel was another tiny little B&B style place, and we checked in with no problems. It was late afternoon, so we went for a quick walk to get the lay of the land, as we only had until 4pm the next day in this small tourist town, we walked to the Main Street, which was empty, and had a walk round some shops, (finally replacing our broken trainers!) had a quick drink in a small bar we
found and then went back to the hostel. By the time we were ready to go out for tea, it was just after 9. We asked the owner to recommend us a restaurant that was not too expensive, when we were told that it was a bit late really and most restaurants were closed by this time on a Saturday! We eventually found a basic grill style place with a menu purely in Spanish and staff who spoke no English at all, and muddled through! Things were a bit better on the bar front and we were able to find a nice bar to go for a drink before heading back.
The next morning we had planned to go for a walk around the centre of the town and have a look at some of the churches it Is known for. What we hadn't considered, was that all of the churches would be in constant use throughout the morning (it was Sunday). We tried to go into one church at just after 10 when mass was due to start at 11 and it was already heaving. So not only are all the shops and museums closed, the churches are in
use all day! So after a bit of a walk around the abandoned streets and the outside of some churches. We went to the beach (the main attraction of this town). It was cloudy when we got down there and still only about 11am, so the beach was empty. They hire surfboards and wet suits for pretty cheap here, so James kitted up and headed for the waves! (I on the other hand needed to watch the bags, as we had been unable to leave anything important at the hostel after check out, so I sunbathed, and read my book....I mean watched James surf! The waves we pretty big and it was a bit of a mission for James in his first solo surf, but in the end he managed to get up a few times (more than the local lads who joined him later on!).
We went for a lovely late lunch, trying some local seafood favourites like ceviche and gratin of razor clams, then walked back to head for the bus station. It has been a long time since our last overnight bus experience (Vietnam we think!) but we were expecting a better experience this time. However it was a 16hour bus.. .fun times!
La Serena is a nice enough beach resort, but when we were there nothing was happening, we found it just a convenient way of breaking up the journey from valparaiso to San pedro de atacama. We are having a great time in chile so far, but it is an experience for us! Where as in Asia, we got by with pigeon English and pointing at things, in chile most people speak only Spanish, and do not slow down for your benefit, They just talk at you like you understand! The menus are frequently not translated and we are having to get quickly better at Spanish. Luckily James came to this with a little Spanish knowledge which has got us a long way! We are learning lots of useful food words, and are much better at tackling a menu now!
The bus did not start brilliantly, as I started with migrane symptoms about 30mins in, spending most of the trip with my eyes closed trying to avoid making things worse! We had assumed we would be stopping for food as we did on the last bus, we didn't, cue the staff bringing us a ham sandwich and a drink on the bus, perfect veggie fare! Then we managed to get a good amount of sleep, however this was limited somewhat by the pain of not being able to straighten our legs and of being woken up by extreme ear pain in the middle of the night due to the road being over 3000m altitude. Eventually we made it in one piece, after having been woken up by a breakfast bag with orange juice and a biscuit being dropped on us! It's time to start our time at great height, with San Pedro de Atacama at 2600m!
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