I know it's tedious telling you all the little details, but am pleased to tell you that I was finally reunited with my bag when I arrived into La Serena bus terminal. Also managed to check into a nice little hotel - down the road from the one I had intended to stay at first. It's not actually listed in the Lonely Planet South American Handbook, but I would recommend it. It's called "Hostal D'Gregoria", on the street "Andrés Bello", a block from "Hostel El Punto", and very near the bus terminal. It's a homey place ran by Don Walter, including free (big) breakfast. It's also a travel agency, and I wasn't too keen that he tried to sell me a tour. But you will see, a couple of days later, why I would recommend it nonetheless.
Had been looking forward to La Serena, not only for the beaches, but apparently it offers more variety of food than the norm up north. AND! there was a listing of a veggie place. Well, half an hour later - of walking up and down the same street, finally managed to locate "El Refugio Vegetariano", which had more the appearance of a pub. The owner having a smoke outside told me, yes, it used to be a veggie place... Two years ago, by any chance?? Of course.
Luckily a resturant further down was kind enough to be experimental with their menu, and made me a huuuge pasta, with real vegetables. Guess it's worth the US$6 they charged. Right, no dinner for me tonight!
With my belly full, took a walk down to towards the beach. It was a lot further than I had expected. About twenty minutes into the walk, a man overtook me from behind... which was fine. But he lingered a step in front of me, and tried to strike up a conversation. Would rather be left alone, thank you very much! So put on a pretence of not understanding him, but made a little more effort later, cos I felt bad that he was trying so hard. Unfortunately there was nothing available nearby to break away from his company, so had to endure another forty minutes of awkwardness. Probably not quite on both sides, as when he finally reached his apartment ("you want to come up and see??"), he asked if I would like his email. Bluntly replied "no" (why would I want it??), and had to lessen the hurt on his face by explaining that I couldn't write in Spanish. Hmm, I think I prefer the "coldness" of the Europeans - at least you could walk down the street in peace!!
The beach was pretty enough (again on the Pacific Ocean!!), but not much to do (unless you have your own parachutes to do some kite surfing, as some people were enaged in doing... awesome!). It was windy, I wasn't dressed for swimming - the water's too cold anyhow. There were some bars and resturants dotted along the beach, but mainly it was residential. So was already heading back to town before sunset. Not much to do, so went to eat dinner. Hehe.