The drive from Santiago to La Serena was absolutely gorgeous. There are mountains everywhere in Chile—from smaller, brown hills to massive, snow capped mountains. The colors vary as much as the topography—bright greens, almost like an electric lime green, dull browns, robins egg blue sky…it is a complete pleasure to take all of it in. There are a lot of vineyards alongside the hills/mountains...it is amazing to see how far up the grapes go on the mountains! There weren’t many houses during the drive, just blotches of small towns along the way with small shack-like houses painted in yellow, blue, green…you name the color, there is an entire house painted it in Chile. They really make American houses seem “boring.”
A man came through the bus selling “dulces” (sweets) and Vicki (another volunteer who is working in Coquimbo) bought 3 of them. I had a bite of one, and it tasted like matzah with dulce de leche (caramel). Speaking of food, the food here is very bland...with A LOT of salt...even the pastries. TONS of bread/empty carb calories…so, needless to say, I’m hungry often and eat a lot. The fresh produce (fruits and veggies) is great here and easy to come across. There are produce markets scattered basically everywhere in Chile, so we always made sure to have fruit on hand. Hot dogs (completos) are HUGE here…the Chileans looovvveee their hot dogs (with every condiment ever created, too).
The first part of the drive was mountainous, the second part was coastal water and mountains, the third part of the trip was more rolling hills/plains (and still mountains), and the last part, going into La Serena was very unique. Coquimbo (the town right before La Serena) was a break from all of the rural driving--tons of houses piled one right next to the other, sweeping across the countryside. We stopped about halfway at a small town for lunch where we had lunch (I don't know the name...sorry!). Instead of eating at the food court, we went across the street from the bus station to some side shack restaurants. I got an empanada con pino (a mixture of meat, onions, sometimes eggs, and olives). It was fresh out of the oven and delicious…and about $1.50. This entire drive kept my attention—the scenery just kept changing. Chile truly is a beautiful country with so many different sights to offer.
Here are some videos from the drive...WARNING: if you get motion sickness, have caution while watching these...
About an hour outside of Santiago
Somewhere between Santiago and La Serena
A typical Chilean town