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KERENA en LA SERENA

Serena, Chile

The overnight bus left Terminal Rodoviaro at 22:41 and arrived in La Serena at 5:30. Thankfully, I had a chill Chilean lady sitting next to me on my overnight bus from Valpariso to La Serena and was able to sleep as soundly as I could on the bus.

Planning ahead for once, I e-mailed a place recommended by Jank, Maria’s Casa to advise them of my arrival at a ridiculous hour. Despite the name, this place is run by 2 brothers. One of the brothers said, yes there would be a room ready for my arrival.

It was only 2 blocks uphill and tucked into a side street. Once I found it, I buzzed the door once at 5:37AM. Waited. Buzzed 2 times. Waited. Tried again. Waited. Ten minutes later after repeating this without success, I was annoyed. I held down the bell to have it continuously buzz all the while feeling bad that I was waking up everyone except for the idiot who was supposed to answer the freaking door as promised.

Finally, a dude looking as equally annoyed as me opened the door wrapped in a blanket. He told me that they were completa but I had a reserva. Shrugging his shoulders, he said there a room for TOMORROW night. How did that help me? I need one for TONIGHT. He was not the brother I had e-mailed apparently.

I was fucking livid and walked off into the dark to try my luck. 2nd option had a sign next to the buzzer notifying those that the reception was open ONLY after 8AM and to not to even consider ringing before. 3rd option same thing. FUCK!

Walking along the dark trash-littered streets was painful, not from the weight of my pack. The problem was sore calfs from running in my Vibrams the day before. Running quasi-barefoot fired up the calf muscles that have been dormant due to having to wear my butch boots in the snowy conditions.

The other thing that made walking in the wee hours of Saturday AM was the drunk men peeing on buildings and stumbling around. As I passed a bench, a couple was making out and getting ready for penetration. I was too angry to be amused. My exhausted/girly-side wanted to cry and my testosterone-side wanted to punch anyone who crossed my path.

My rational-side told me to get off the streets by hailing a cab. The bastard would not bargain and charged me the late night rate of 2 mil CLP (~$4) for a ridiculously short distance. He tried to drop me off across the street from the terminal. I said, “No, para 2 Mil, en frente!!!” I also would not pay him until he lifted my heavy pack out of the trunk and put it on my shoulders.

Back at the terminal, I thought maybe I would just head to Vicuña in Elqui Valley which was next on my list and only 50 minutes away. By then, I would surely find a welcoming place. Looking at the schedule, I was dismayed when I saw buses were not starting for another hour. As this damsel in distress searched for a bench to pout on, she ran into her knight in shining armor or at least a man holding a shining sign advertising a place for the night.

Usually, I do not trust people advertising their hotels at the bus terminals since they are usually overpriced. Gustavo had a kind and friendly face. His place, MAYGUS HOSTAL, incorporated his and his wife’s name, was centrally located in downtown La Serena with a private room with bathroom with WiFi and use of the kitchen for 10 Mil CLP. SI!! He gave me a ride back to town and a tour along the way. Once there, he took my bags, showed me my room and told to sleep, he would check me in later.

Within seconds after setting my alarm, I passed out around 6:30.

At 9:45, my alarm and grumbling tummy woke me up. I brought my loaf of my million grain bread I from Janak’s wife’s bakery, my banana and my Velo Rouge mug to the kitchen. Gustavo was boiling water and making avena for him and his wife. As I toasted my bread, we chatted a bit. He poured me a cup of avena and coffee and offered me honey for my toast. I accepted and shared a few slices of my toasted bread.

It was cold and foggy outside. I was cold and foggy in the head. The beach could wait after another wee nap.

Crap! I awoke at 2PM. Not wanting to waste any more of the day, I bolted out of bed and into the shower. At least my adrenaline did not let my body realize it was still cold and I was showering with moderately warm water.

Once outside, it was still foggy but I made my way to the beach. Along the way, I passed a tranquil Japanese botanical garden. Then, I crossed over a busy road with a bridge taking me inside a packed shopping mall. It looked like it was either Black Friday or Christmas Eve in the States. No, just La Serena on a Saturday. Outside, people lined up with shopping carts piled high alongside the taxis eager to be filled.

On the opposite side of the road from the mall, there was a man was selling wooden planters he had made. I thought of my dad. They reminded me of something he could easily make and sell if he just would flip on the enterprising gene that is buried deep in his being. I have warned him and my mother repeatedly, if they ever end up having to live under my roof, my place will turn into an artisan sweatshop.

Leaving the commercial center, I ended up on a treelined path that lead to the beach. Spotting a lighthouse in the distance, I now thought of my mom. She loves lighthouses. Whenever she visits a place, she must see the lighthouse too. If you did not know this about her, you could easily figure it out by seeing all the lighthouse paraphernalia decorating my parent’s house. I laughed, my dad plays with wood my mom is obsessed with phallic objects! Like mother, like daughter. I dig phallic objects too but mainly by discovering what pops up randomly in nature (ex see photos on 2/4 & 4/1).

As I walked along, a random homeless dog came up to greet me. He was friendly and sweet but was dirty and covered in scabs from being attacked by other dogs. I love dogs but refused to pet him but he was not bothered by this and continued to happily walk with me down the trail and as I explored the beach.

Even though it was a Saturday, there was no one was on the beach. It was just me, Sucio, and several extremely bored horses. Up close, the lighthouse was crumbling. There were shells of condominiums that looked like they were started a decade ago and then the project was abandoned. The beach looked dirty rather than sandy and there was litter strewn everywhere. I was rethinking my early morning run along this beach tomorrow. Not so zen.

Another reason the beach was so dead, besides the shopping frenzy and the fog, could be the Chile vs Bolivia futbol match was about to start. Maybe all the excitement was in the bars. I decided to go back to catch the game. Sucio stuck with me.

A few territorial dogs came running to attack him but I protected him by hurling several rocks. I felt bad for the poor dog. He was a little bitch since he would not use his cajones to protect himself. As soon as I stumbled across a little tienda, I grabbed a large bottle of water for me and hoped to pick up some dry dog food. They had none so I bought some bread instead. The little guy was happy and wagged his tail so hard I thought it would fly off. I feed him. He grabbed a spot in the grass to eat and digest. Before I left him, I begged for him to grow a pair of cajones and stop letting himself get bullied.

Not only was there a run on the malls, there was a run on beer and cash from the ATM in the grocery store. I had to check several ATMs before finding one in a Pharmacy to spit out money.

Next, I was on the hunt for a place to have a beer and watch the game. I had been Sucio’s bodyguard and now I was wishing I had backup. Where were all the strapping Aussies and Brits that I could usually count on for back-up and eye candy? Picking a place required strategery. I found a Chilean version of a sports bar that had a mixed crowd with a few other women. Over a Kuntsman beer, I watched Chile take down Bolivia. I was late to see the first but was able to witness the second GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAL! Game over and so was I for the day.

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