Worshipping at the Church of the Spanish Senorita


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South America » Chile » Coquimbo Region » La Serena
December 28th 2008
Published: September 30th 2017
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Cool fountain, taken at Plaza Tenri, I think.
Geo: -29.9008, -71.2448

I feel like crap. I found a hostel worker and told them that I wouldn´t be making the tour today. I lay in bed until about 9:30, then grabbed some breakfast. The hostel serves up some wicked buns, and some jam with big chunks of kiwi. The coffee was horrid - instant coffee is the standard in Chile, and it was funny to note that the hostel had a menu of breakfast items that could be had for an additional charge, including a pot of "real coffee". At least they acknowledge that instant Nescafe is garbage!

I wandered over to the big, modern mall over by the bus station in search of an additional pair of shorts, only to find that it didn´t open until 11:00, so I popped over to an internet cafe for a bit. I ended up buying a pair of shorts at the mall once it opened - if you took away all the Spanish-speaking people, you could mistake it for any mall in North America. I had hoped to find some good choices in the food court, but it was all crap like KFC and burger joints. I decided to instead grab a picnic and
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Iglesia de Las Carmelitas, with what the guidebook describes as its "magnificent" carved doors. Uh ... ok ... I´m not sure what the guidebook considers to be magnificent, but apparently it´s equivalent to what I consider to be crap! I´ll never understand why guidebook authors always feel the need to embellish the truth. If it´s crap, call it crap, and don´t try to sugar coat it!
head down to the beach, near the faro (lighthouse).

It was a pretty long and hot walk - probably about 25 minutes. There was supposed to be a big grocery store along the way, just off the main street, but I ended up missing it. There were a number of little mercados, but they only sold soft drinks and junk food. The walk was quite nice, as there is a pedestrian area running down the middle of the boulevard, which was lined with green spaces and a number of replicas of ancient Greek statues.

I received a few "Chino" stares as I walked, even a taxi honking. I was surprised that the taxi driver didn´t drive into a pole, as he cocked his head almost 180 degrees to stare, as he drove on by. For those that don´t know, Chino is the Spanish word for "Chinese" , and a Chino stare is what I call it when I travel to a place unaccustomed to seeing those of my type, and the locals end up gawking at me.

Near the faro was a snack bar selling ... kebabs! Yes! It´s been too long since I´ve had one! But unfortunately, it had been
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Church, just off of Plaza de Armas.
adapted for local tastes, and wasn´t that good. Of course, the ones in Europe are invariably adapted for local tastes, but I still find those ones yummy.

The chicken was quite saucy, but had a bit of an odd flavour ... it wasn´t so tasty and while packed with chicken, there was little else inside - no veggies, or my beloved kebab sauce. I had a bit of a miscommunication with the lady - I asked for a fresh Papaya juice, but knowing that Chileans add a lot of sugar to their juices, asked for something sugar-free. So instead, she brought out a bottle of peach juice that was labeled "reduced sugar". Oh well ...

I continued reading my book of poetry ... I think Pablo Neruda would turn over in his grave if he read some of these English translations! In some cases, my knowledge of Spanish isn´t sufficient to disagree, but some of the side-by-side translations are blatantly incorrect, either adding words that shouldn´t be there, getting it completely wrong, or instead providing the meaning that the translator felt Neruda wanted to convey. Isn´t the point of poetry to allow the reader to experience it as the author
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After downing the first of the napolitana empanadas at the market, I grabbed some watermon juice from the fresh fruit juice stand nearby - very tasty and refreshing.
wrote it, in its purest form, and decipher the author's meaning for themselves, or perhaps even find their own meaning?

I hoped that the beach bumming would make me feel better - it was pretty dead at 14:30, but really picked up at 16:30, when the locals came out to enjoy the sun. The water was quite chilly, so I didn´t go for a dip, only waded along the shore. It was a pretty windy day, so the idea of being whipped by the wind after a dunk in the cold water didn´t appeal to me, especially since I was sick. I also checked out the faro, which wasn´t terribly exciting.

I spent a few hours sunning and napping before having enough of the rays, and strolled back to the hostel, past the kebab stand, where I grabbed what was supposed to be a ham/cheese empanada. The lady had a horrified look on her face as I bit into it - a total over-reaction, because all that transpired was that she had mixed up two orders. I told her that I didn´t care, because the beef one I received was still pretty good. Onions, ground beef, egg ... tasty, except
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From the empanada lady, I also tried a Navideña, which was a glazed, doughy ball of crap, covered in crunchy candy sprinkles. I opted to try her glazed orange cake instead of her banana cake, which turned out to be a mistake, because while good, it simply didn´t stand up to her awesome banana cake.
for the odd olive buried inside, which I simply spit on the grass as I ate and walked. I washed it down with some cool, freshly-made melon juice. So good ... even though it was a tad too sweet. I sizzled under the hot Chilean sun as I walked back ...

Back at the hostel was a Canadian dude from the Yukon Territory. He´s escaping from an even colder place than me! There was also a guy from Kansas, now living in Santiago, who I chatted with briefly. I showered and took a bit of a siesta, when Sophie returned from her tour and immediately departed to catch her bus back to Santiago, after quickly saying goodbye. Too bad, because she was a friendly girl, and not having any plans tonight, I wanted to see if she was interested in grabbing a picnic down at the beach.

Not having anything to do, I strolled back to the city centre. Not many people come to La Serena to see the city itself; it´s more of a base that people use to make day trips elsewhere. Though it´s a pretty small town, I managed to take a fairly lengthy stroll around town to
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Bottle of water I purchased at the hostel. I've never seen this before in bottled water - it's carbonated and has a little spritzer you use to fill your glass. Terrible, because the pressure was too much and water always sprayed all over the place.
see the Iglesia San Francisco and the Iglesia de Las Carmelitas.

Back to Plaza de Armas and the adjacent market, in search of souvenirs and food. I ran into Mario again ... and suffered through another lengthy, one-sided conversation. Of course, it was my own fault for not finding a way to escape, but my eyes simply glazed over and before you knew it, over 45 minutes had passed. He´s really a nice guy, just not someone I feel like chatting with for too long. He spends a lot of time on the internet, and is quite the wealth of knowledge when it comes to different cultures, and world politics.

I was quite surprised to find out that he was only 31, because he looked more like he was 45. I should´ve known, however, because yesterday his description of the life of the average lower-income Chilean sounded quite harsh. Just from his body language, you can tell that he's endured a tough life.

I finally had a chance to grab some food at the market, and went back to the same lady who sold me the excellent banana cake last night. I tried a hot dog pastry which was kinda
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The beautiful Claudia Bassols. One food writer who blogged about "Spain: On the Road Again" actually wrote "Does Spain have the most flattering natural light in the world, or is Claudia Bassols just that gorgeous?" Sorry, but Spanish women are just that gorgeous! Everyone who knows me has heard me rave about the stunning natural beauty of Spanish women. The delicate features, the deep and seductive eyes, the alluring gaze ... but still, there's something with Spanish women that goes beyond the physical. It's the mannerisms, the elegance with which they move, the manner of speech, a certain demureness that is incredibly attractive ... For me, there is no accent more beautiful than the Spanish spoken in Spain, or English tinged with that same Spanish accent. The majority of Spanish women I have met just have a very proper, beautiful way of speaking. And beyond all that I have listed ... there is something about them that defies categorization or description, something that stirs something in your soul ... watch a few episodes of the show, and you'll know exactly what I mean! Friends have asked me in the past about my "affinity" (obssession is a word more often used) for Spanish women. Truth be told, it's not that these qualities are only found in Spanish women - I've met many women that have all that I've previously discussed. It just seems like almost ALL Spanish women have it. If only I was this passionate about engineering - I'd have won a Nobel Prize by now!
crappy despite the fine pastry dough, and a napolitana empanada, filled with cheese, tomato, and ham - almost a Chilean version of a pizza pocket. Yummy!

After downing the juice, I returned to the empanada lady for a few more napolitana empanadas. Her pastry dough was incredible, and unlike any other empanadas I have had before. In fact, subsequent (and VERY numerous) empanadas on this trip never quite stacked up to hers.

I quickly devoured the empanadas while walking back to the hostel, and had also picked up a few desserts from the same lady. Back to the hostel for the first bit of journal writing on this trip. The hostel has a great, homey kind of vibe, and a nice courtyard to relax at. I thought of the old lady and her empanada mastery, and wondered if she had a beautiful granddaughter, who had learned the craft with as much skill ... ahh ... to marry someone who could make empanadas like this!

I was excited to go back to my dorm room because earlier, I had seen evidence of two new female roommates, and a few Spanish-language fashion magazines scattered about. Would there be some Spanish señoritas to practice my Spanish with? No! Unfortunately for me, it was two Aussie girls who had been studying Spanish in Chile and thus spoke fluent Spanish. D'oh! Is it too much to ask for, to have a couple of beautiful Spanish senoritas for bunk mates? Apparently, the answer is yes ... but even more reason to return to Spain a sixth time this summer!

I had some difficulties sleeping tonight, as I've been quite sad today - though I'm not a religious man, I've recently been attending worship the past several Sundays. This would be the first Sunday in quite some time that I missed it. What exactly have I been worshiping? A show on PBS, entitled "Spain: On the Road Again". It's basically a culinary tour through Spain, but what exactly is it about this show that I worship? The food? No. The beautiful Spanish landscapes? No. Claudia Bassols, the beautiful Spanish actress from Barcelona who co-hosts the show? CHECK! I've been to many of the places featured on the show and eaten much of the food - I've had enough of both, but will always return to Spain, simply to admire the stunning natural beauty of Spanish senoritas, that is epitomized by the lovely Ms. Bassols. And if for some strange reason she is reading this blog - Claudia, will you marry me?

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