>I’ve been attempting to write a post about my vacation all day. For some reason, the creative juices just weren’t flowing. Then I realized…I’m having trouble writing about what I did because I didn’t do much of anything.
I spent eight days in La Serena, which is a city located around 6 hours north of Santiago on the coast. It is Chile’s second oldest city, founded by Fransisco de Aguirre. Serena is known as the beach town, while it’s neighboring city, Coquimbo, is known as the port. Kind of like Viña and Valparaiso, if you’re familiar with those cities. Serena is known as being somewhat expensive, and popular with foreign tourists, especially Argentinians. However, F. and I were on a budget, and we were able to find inexpensive lodging in the city center. We stayed at a Hostel for $7.000 pesos/night. No, it wasn’t right next to the beach, and we had a shared bathroom, but it was fine and only took us about 10 minutes and $350 pesos to take a micro to 4 Esquinas, one of the most popular beaches.
I spent most of my time either: sleeping, eating or lying on the beach. Not too exciting, but VERY relaxing. We also watched Jazz at the Serena Jazz Festival, went out to La Biblioteca, a bar known for its Terremotos (white wine with ice cream), visited my friend D’s VERY NICE recinto privado, where she works for Cerro Tololo and took a day trip to Valle Elqui. Of course we also visited La Recova, which is a market place in the centro, as well as many other ferias artesenales (craft fairs).
I think one of the best things about Serena is the weather. Sometimes it was cloudy in the morning, but by 2:00 the sun came out and it was the perfect temperature, not hot like Santiago. At night it cooled down and it was such a nice break from the heat of the city. Right now I’m sitting in my stuffy bedroom with the fan blasting, wishing I was back in Serena.
The day trip to Valle Elqui was great. It’s so beautiful there. Valle Elqui is known for pisco (hard alcohol made from grapes), papayas (not the papaya you’re thinking of, something way better), Gabriela Mistral, and UFOs. We of course visited a pisquera, where they make pisco. We visited one that only makes pisco for export, and the bottles sell for around $60 in France. It was called Pisco Aba, and you can only buy it in the airport in Santiago (or in France, of course). I won’t bore you with the pisco making process, mostly because our guides weren’t that great (let me just say that the Ben and Jerry’s factory tour is way more informative!).
The papayas that I am talking about is not the tropical fruit that is kind of orangey-pinkish and (in my opinion) gross. It is a small fruit that looks like this. And delicious. It also has many great qualities, and is even used in the medicine for some sort of disease (sorry I can’t be more specific…my memory is failing me).
Gabriela Mistral was the first woman from Latin America to win the Nobel Prize for literature. She was a poet born in Montegrande, a small village in the Valle Elqui. We visited her tomb as well as the school where she was educated and the church where she was baptised.
You’re probably wondering about the UFOs. Acording to Marcelo, our guide, scientists say that Valle Elqui has an unusually strong magnetic force. Esoterics believe it is because here is where “Cosmic Energy” enters the earth and then leaves through the Himalayas in Tibet. For this reason, there have been many UFO spottings here. In fact, Chile is one of the countries with the most sightings of UFOs in the world. For this reason, there are a lot of “hippies” (Marcelo’s word) that inhabit the Valle and many centers of meditation, yoga and healing.
Oh, I forgot one. In addition to UFOs, you can see another thing from space pretty well in the Elqui Valley. As in the stars. Cerro Tololo is located there, and my friend D. is analyzing data colleged from that telescope. There are also a lot of observatories for tourists, but we didn’t go to any of those.
So, that was my vacation. Very relaxing, kind of educational. Overall, a great time. Now I’m back in Santaigo and trying to figure out where to work. I guess it’s better to have three options than zero, but it’s still causing me to stress out a little!
PS. If you want to see more photos, they are on facebook.