The fringe of the desert

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The fringe of the desert
La Serena, Chile

La Serena, Chile

19/07/12 – 20/07/12 – La Serena, Chile

La Serena marks an obvious change in landscape for Chile because quite suddenly we’re climbing mountains and vegetation is replaced by scrub and desert. And walking from the bus station to our hostel the buildings have taken on a desert mud-brick style as well. Everything is low profile, except the 28 or so churches that adorn many of the street corners of the town. And it’s the second oldest town in Chile after Santiago, so there’s an obvious depth of history, punctuated by architecture of wood and sedimentary stone.

The paradox of La Serena is that it has a surf beach coastline, but it peels back past the town to sand dunes and there’s that sandy haze of the desert in the air the whole time. The beachfront would be nice in summer I suppose but there’s that post apocalyptic sentiment, somewhat void of people, hotels closed for the season, restaurants boarded up. The Avenue Franscisco De Aquiire is palm lined but quiet and runs back into town through a major shopping metropolis.

Our hostel is nicely crafted and has a fabricated desert fire-pit setting in the common areas. And it’s a theme that for the first time for us, stretches into the streets and market architecture. The grayness of the town is colored by the historical churches on the corners and in the plazas and the culturally savvy coffee shops that you can find at the back of plazas or alleyways.

There’s a great market and decent shopping but there’s not much else to hold us as we continue our journey into the Atacama.


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