After an amazing four days in Pucón, our program had a group retreat arranged in northern Chile, so we hopped back on the bus to enjoy a few days in La Serena. Remember how Pucón was 14 hours south? Well, what goes down…must come up. (That’s how the saying goes, right?) After 14 hours back to Santiago, we got on another bus to go 6 hours north to La Serena. It was a long time to spend on a tour bus, but with good friends and a beautiful view of the mountains I couldn’t complain. It was great!

There’s a reason that this city translates to “serenade.” Northern Chile is known for its desert climate and beautiful beaches, which means tank tops and lots of suncreen! We arrived and got situated in our cabaña (cabin), and that night we headed to the Observatory Serena. In order to reach the altitude where it was built, we (of course) went on another bus ride. Now, I know that there are some amazing places to stargaze around the world, but I think La Cordillera is one of the greatest. The stars looked like little berries that I could pluck from the sky, and I even got the wonderful opportunity to see Saturn through a telescope the size of my room. We learned about the constellations on this side of the hemisphere, and even some ancient Inca constellations, like one in the crystal clear shape of a llama.

The next day Mela and I went to the fería to buy some papaya candies, which La Serena is known for. I am not a big fan, but some people drool over them.

Later we went to the Restaurant Solar, where surprisingly enough all of our food was cooked by the sun. It was a really interesting and economic process…the pots of rice, or chicken, or veggies, get put into a makeshift “sun oven” and when the solar panels are turned toward the sun, it reaches about 180 degrees. So, there it sits for several hours, and then bam—dinner. It was a pretty tasty, traditional, chilean meal. Thank you sun!

After dinner, we went on a tour of a Capel factory, where they make pisco. If there’s one thing you should know about Chileans…they love their pisco. It’s a drink similar to vodka but much sweeter. Capel is the most well-known brand of pisco for those youngsters looking to buy a more affordable bottle of alcohol, but they also produce Alto del Carmen, which is more refined. We got to see and learn about the fermentation process, and the best part? Samples. My favorite was the mixed toffee cream!

Unfortunately, our time in La Serena was cut short by our adventure in Pucón. The next day we had to leave, but hopefully there will be more opportunities in the future to explore northern Chile. And if you ever get the chance, GO : )

Peace and love,

Sarah

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