Our bus ride from San Pedro to Atacama to La Serena was twenty hours long. But it was the BEST BUS RIDE EVER. We spent the extra money and upgraded to premium. Essentially, it was like sitting in an extremely comfortable chair with a TV and someone to serve you snacks. YES. Speaking of snacks, they served us some soda that has the most unfortunate name ever. Mini Pap. Um, when I drink soda, I don’t want to think about women’s health. Maybe that’s just me. I didn’t drink the soda.
We arrived in La Serena in the morning. La Serena is a lovely resort town, with a cute downtown shopping area and a nice beach. Our plan was to spend the day lounging on the beach, but the weather was overcast. Fate was not on our side. Instead, we walked along the beach, stuck our toes in the water and ruffled the feathers of a few sea gulls by charging at them.
We stopped at a restaurant on the beach for lunch. In my four years of Spanish classes, I managed to learn and promptly forget many vocabulary words. I remember the word for seafood, which is great. I do not, however, remember learning the words for the different types of seafood. Being that we were at a beach front seafood restaurant, it was an issue. Even with an english menu, we still had a miscommunication. And instead of getting the crab, like we had wanted, we got the seafood chowder. So I guess it didn’t really matter that I didn’t know specifics.
La Serena is the first place in South America that we’ve been to that has money. Chile is the richest country in South America and is close to leaving its third world status behind. La Serena has a huge mall, a movie theater, and the ultimate status symbol– a McDonald’s. Because we didn’t have anything to do, we decided to check out the mall. It was Christmas come early…literally. It felt like being at home. All of the Christmas decorations were up. There was even a mall Santa!
We found ourselves at the movie theater and on a whim decided to see the new Bond movie, Quantum of Solace, in English with Spanish subtitles. Side note: what does Quantum of Solace even mean? It makes no sense. We got popcorn and drinks. Now at home, when you order a medium soda, you get two liters. Here, you get a very small cup. The movie was good, but for me the most interesting part was seeing the scenery. It takes place in Bolivia, but was apparently filmed in Chile. Regardless, what you see in the movie is really what it looks like in Peru, Bolivia, and Northern Chile. Being that it was the three week mark of our trip, it was nice to have some familiar experiences. Going to the movies, etc. And the next day before our bus to Valparaiso, we may or may not have stopped at McDonald’s for some REAL french fries. I don’t know, I can’t remember.
I love Valparaiso, called Valpo. The multicolored houses spill out of the hills and look like they’re built on top of eachother. It’s right on the water and has some beautiful beaches and spectacular views. Because there are so many stairs, the city has a number of ‘ascensions’– or rather, rickety old lifts that put your life on the line for thirty seconds but give you a great view of the city when they do.
Yesterday, we spent the day at the beach with a couple of American kids staying at our hostel. We had a great time, and, like always, I got an awkward looking sun burn to go along with my farmer’s tan. Score one for me! Our wonderful day yesterday came at the price of my stomach. And today, I have ‘stomach issues’. Don’t worry, Mom. I’m fine.
Tomorrow we take the two hour bus ride to Santiago. Santiago is our last stop in Chile. I honestly have no idea what to expect. I keep hearing mixed things. I’ll let you know.
Only two more weeks left on the trip! I don’t know how we’re going to fit everything in.