La Serena isn’t some pueblito in the Atacama Desert—Chile’s second-oldest city is the capital of the Coquimbo Region and it has a population of nearly 200,000 (400,000 for the Greater La Serena).
Yet, it feels like a small town.
Case in point, I was walking on the beach when I saw someone taking pictures of the Faro Monumental with a fancy DSLR. Since he was using a Nikon similar to mine, I thought he was my chance to get the classic tourist shot in front of the big lighthouse.
He obliged me, then we went through the usual “hey, you’re not from here, aren’t you?” routine.
Ah, ah, no, I’m not Chilean, I’m from Canada, yes, it’s winter over there, yes, it’s very cold.
“That’s funny,” the guy said. “There’s another Canadian in town right now! I’ve heard she is staying at the cabañas by the stadium.”
“… that’s me,” I replied, nonplussed.
So there you go. I’m the official Canadian of La Serena.
It’s not like I’m the only out-of-towner around, La Serena is a popular holiday spot, but most tourists are from Southern Chile, aka “Little Canada”, Patagonia, where temperatures are cool even in summer.
I know it’s a complete cliché, but I found locals super friendly and nice. La Serena is the kind of place where, when people ask you if you had a good sleep, they actually care about the answer (I did! Slept like a baby!). It’s the kind of place where, when you ask for directions, the first thing they say is “it’s across the road, look both ways and be careful.”
I liked the people of La Serena.