A few miles north of La Serena is a village called Chungungo. We didn’t actually go into the town but it is worth talking about. The people of Chungungo had had a problem with water scarcity for some time but experienced almost daily fogs. In the early 1990s large fog catching nets were erected. Originally the idea was to help create a forest that could harvest its own water but the townspeople asked for water to also be diverted to their village. While we were driving back from Punto Churros we saw one of the fogs, known locally as camanchaca, starting to roll in.
La Serena has 26 churches, all in various shapes, sizes and denominations. La Serena is Chile’s second oldest city and there is a strong Italian and Spanish influence in the architecture. It is vastly different to the chaotic randomness of Valparaíso and doesn’t seem to have the same problem of stray dogs roaming the streets. Which is fortunate for Lena because she seems to be some sort of dog magnet. On a few occasions dogs would deviate off their normal course to walk behind her. One particular dog followed us across La Serena and was dubbed Pebre.
There aren’t as many buses running through the streets as we see in Valpo and people who live out of the city centre have to rely more on private transport. We strolled around the Japanese Garden, which could do with a little bit more TLC. It’s very hard to maintain the gardens when the locals have trouble reading the “Keep of the Grass” signs and kids are allowed to chase swans around.
We went through the free museum. It’s only a small museum but has great displays. There is a Maoi from Easter Island, a mummy, several shrunken heads, weapons, fossils and some old crime scenes showing the bones of people killed in battle.