François left us early in the morning for a bus to Santiago, and onwards to France. Bye! On the other hand, Ron and I both needed to exchange some travellers' cheques and buy an onward bus ticket to our next destination, so we hung out together for the day.
We loitered about the town for a while - speculating on how how much the Plaza might have changed over the last hundred years, then headed over to "Jardin del Corazon", a little Japanese garden just behind the Plaza. Ron said that he had tried to go there on his first day, but it was already closed. No luck on his second attempt either - it's closed Mondays. Doh!
So we took a bus southwards, to the city of Coquimbo about twenty kilometres away from La Serena. But our bus took the scenic route, and was on a massive detour. No worries, we didn't feel like we were in a rush anyway - and my guidebook didn't really say much about what was available in Coquimbo, apart from a huge Cross.
Well, when we pulled into Coquimbo, it was clear that there were quite a few places of interest. At the Plaza where we were dropped off, there were some interesting sculptures, which I could only guess to be British related, as they were installed outside a British pub. And no, we didn't go in. There was also a curious tower on the top of a hill, near the entrance to the city. Ron had also spied some boats in the sea, and was inspired to go rowing. And of course, we wanted to go and visit the Cross as well. Though a litle messy and dirty, I really liked it, as it had more character than La Serena.
Lunch was a lengthly affair - first having to establish that the seafood restuarant had something for me, and then translating the menu as best as I could (they were mainly seafood specialists) for Ron. And my rice, salad and chips were much more than I had bargained for, and took me a long while to tuck them all away. So when finally finished, was too full to go rowing. Couldn't really find a boat either, anyway, plus it was revealed Ron had never been rowing before. Right, we don't want to drift too far out in the Pacific Ocean!! (Well, if I rowed, we would be going round in circles anyway!!)
So, we took a quick walk on the beach instead - a rather dirty and smelly place. Found a corpse of a crab, brutally dismembered with his parts scattered about. And no, I didn't take a photo of that. Then headed up the hill with the church/mosque at the top, and tried to decipher the townplanning - which had none. But it was fun, though had to backtrack a few times! A workman near the harbour had told us that it was possible to visit it, but towards the top, Ron was worried that, being a girl, I may not be allowed into the mosque.
Well, at arrival a friendly sign told us that no one could go in. I think you get the message with the "no" written in big type, and we were not to insist on going in. It was really still a construction site, and not quite completed. But they allowed us in to have a look around anyway, though we couldn't go up. Oh well. Was also disappointed to find that it wasn't built to accommodate the Muslim community, but was more of a tourist attraction. Maybe the Moroccan architect in question was travelling, and had a dream about doing something crazy in Chile as a project...??
Pushed for time now, we managed to catch a bus onwards to the Cross of the Third Millennium. It was a millennium construction project - where the three columns of the cross represented each millennium since the birth of Christ. It towered 96m above the hill, offering a good vantage point of Coquimbo and its surrounding area. Our bus dropped us off at the bottom of a dirt track up to the Cross, and Ron wondered if they couldn't have built a better access road to such a prominent structure. It turned out it's because construction wasn't quite completed yet. What was completed though, was the visiting hours of the day. It was closed at 6:30pm (not 7pm, as in my guide), and we were there at 6:45pm. Spent a few minutes taking photos, and then back on the road to catch a bus to La Serena.
We were lucky, a bus pulled up shortly after we got to the stop, and we arrived back into town at 7:45pm, with fifteen minutes spare to collect Ron's washing. But the launderette was already closed (though the lady told us she would be there until eight), and Ron had an onward ticket that night to San Pedro, and I was going to Santiago. What to do, what to do?
Don Walter at the hostal was very sympathetic, and helped explored the various options. It was decided that it would be safest staying the night and going back the next morning in person, rather than trying to get the lady to send the paid washing by bus/post. Apparently I had fire in my eyes - as I get heated up at the injustice of things - but once bus tickets were changed, Ron quietly muttered it was time to buy some petrol to burn the launderette down..! I decided to stay an extra night (Don Walter offered a discount for the night), not only to help Ron get his clothes back the next day, but also because my Chilean friend Agustín (from the weekend at San Pedro) would also be back in La Serena the next day.
So as Ron said, even when something bad happens, it could be a turn for the better...