La Serena

Well, Ben & Nathan will both be pleased with this update.  As I’ve done practically nothing, Ben will be happy with the boringness.  And as I think I got asked to leave a pub so that I could be beaten up – Nathan will be happy with “playing something we all know.”

So – left San Pedro.  Fairly lengthy bus ride to La Serena – arriving the morning of 04 Aug.  Off bus, and a few touts pushing their hostels.  Tell one lady to wait until I get my bag.  She follows, still jabbering away, and eventually gives me her card.  I start walking – hopefully towards town.  Turns out yes.  Try to find cheapest hostel in guide book – closed or shut down.  Go to hostel of the lady tout.  Sweet – big double bed, very comfy, huge room, television, stereo, a populated bookshelf, and french doors onto courtyard.  Also – free internet, decent hot shower, and tour info.  Go for a walk, find a cafe with tables on street.  Eat lunch, drink cerveza, listen to a jazz band set up on the street nearby.  All good.  Find the museum – closed.  Walk towards shore, with a cerveza break halfway.  Actually toilet break – but figure I should buy something at the restaurant to be polite.  Watch the guy with the job of guiding cars in and out of carparks.  Amusing and frustrating to watch.  Seeing as this guy is forced to do this as a living, for tips – I’m guessing he’s never had the money to own a car.  And probably has never actually driven a car before in his life.  And it’s fairly obvious.

Get to the beach.  No swimming allowed.  A fake castle – which is listed as a tourist attraction on my map.  Doesn’t bode well for the rest of them.  Back to town, and find my first “local’s bar” in quite some time.  Small, with old men drinking nothing but cerveza.  All good.  One chap speaks fairly good english, and we chat for a while.  Watch what I originally think is one old man pretending to give his friend a big kiss.  Later, realise that he was actually biting his cheek – leaving two decent cuts.  Talking to another old man, hear that the two are workmates, have been for 15 years – and that there is going to be some biffo tomorrow.  This old man himself is talking about how he’s going to fight the biter.  My english-speaking friend eventually leaves, leaving me to drink alone – fitting in with the others doing the same.  A fairly young guy comes in, and asks me which state I’m from.  I tell him I’m not american.  Dodgy looking chap, we talk for a while.  Then – I think he tells me to leave.  Or asks me to go outside?  Maybe so he and friends can fight the gringo?  Maybe he was just inviting me to another bar – not entirely sure.  Either way – I decline the offer.  He leaves, and I force myself into another cerveza – to delay leaving.  Eventually leave, get back to hostel – realise I’m a little too ‘tipsy’ to go out for dinner, or to book the tour of the nearby valley I wanted.  Luckily, discover pro-wrestling on the television instead.  Then – a fair bit of time on the free internet, hearing about Ben’s criminal family stealing kaimoana.

05 Aug – get up and go to book my tour with the nice blonde girl at the tour agency.  But it’s closed.  Realise it’s Sunday – and very little is open.  Go to the handicraft market, which has heaps of restaurants specialising in seafood on the 2nd floor.  Breakfast – isn’t seafood.  Then – back to the museum, which is open – and free entry on Sundays.  Sweet.  Same stuff as other museums.  More pre-Columbian pottery/art – again very very reminiscent of Maori equivalent.  And then – the prize of the museum – a moai.  Big bloody rock head.  Pretty cool.  Ben & Pen – we can cancel the trip to Rapanui now as well.  Seen a moai.

Then – to some markets.  Rather similar to Hong Kong – right down to a Pirates of the Caribbean costume set with awful awful english translation, and probably unauthorised use of the cast members on the packaging.  Back to the restaurants over the other market – and this time get myself some kaimoana.  Stuff I didn’t recognise – and eating it all raw (except for marinating) was probably not the best way to introduce myself to new types of shellfish.  But, manage to finish it off, with the aid of a few pisco sours.

Back to hostel.  On the way, a guy stopped me on the street, and gave me money.  Took me aback a little, as I was preparing to say “no” for when he would ask me for money.  He turned the tables.  Odd – possibly a guy I gave a cigarette to last night?  (Yes family, am smoking at the moment – as it aids in befriending the locals.  Almost certain to stop when Pen arrives though.)  Free internet for a while – managed to upload a few more photos.  Playing kiwi music through the stereo – pretty sweet.  Then, find a cafe which is open – and have some dinner & cerveza.  Go back to the “local’s bar” on the way back to hostel – to check on status of yesterdays biting incident – but it’s closed.  Back to hostel, and decide to skip the organised tour (been doing too many of those recently – a sign of my travel weariness?) – and to instead catch a bus tomorrow morning straight to the valley myself, and do it independently.

And that was La Serena.  Managed to write a fair bit about having done absolutely nothing.  Was going to fill it in with a rant, but no need to, I guess.  I have an excellent rant about snakes brewing in my head.  I bloody hate snakes.

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