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While I was busy not hating La Serena, the idea for a short daytrip developed. Actually we had wanted to go to the elusive and hard to get to Fray Jorge park, to wander on white sands and probably get sunburnt and thirsty. But since it was a long weekend, there were no rental cars to be had, and while morale was high, money was low, and the cost of getting to La Serena not insignificant, and so we decided to bus it to somewhere instead.

That somewhere turned out to be Guanaqueros, a nearby town with a horseshoe-shaped beach and a few seaside restaurants. But first we had to take the bus downtown, and as luck would have it, we got a chuncho, or Universidad de Chile soccer fan for a bus driver.

Then we took the obligatory faded-paint-on-the-boat photos with the name of the town in plain view.

And we did not eat any ostiones (scallops) or piures (Pee-UR-ay, red sea squirts), but I suppose they are on sale sometimes. Scallops I can handle, but I had one and only one experience with a piure, and actually squirted lemon in my mouth to wash out the taste. Not even the nearby cat would accept one from my hand. So no great shakes on the non-availability here.

And I love a house with a mural.

And giant faces.

The ocean was calm and the boats floaty.

We schlepped up the road to the mirador. (lookout point)

And finally got the hard-fought view, whereupon we met a family walking down, oh, a flight of stairs, which would have made the whole thing quite a bit easier.

On the way there, we had taken a for-real bus, but on the way back, we were standing where we thought perhaps a bus might come, and a guy drove up, said “Coquimbo, Serena,” meaning that he’d take us to either, and we hopped in, along with a family of 4.5 (mom quite pregnant) and a lone woman, and made it back in about half the time (about 30 minutes vs. an hour), for about the same price (5,000 CLP, or $10, if memory serves). It probably sounds foolish from the outside, but this is fairly normal in Chile, which you probably remember from my recent ride from Pomaire to Melipilla in a panel van.

My friends and I talked about how, given the town’s proximity to La Serena and how lovely and calm the beach seemed, that it must be cheek-by-jowl-by-towel there in the summertime, but off-season, the town was perfect.

Conclusion: Guanaqueros a win.