After visiting the blooming Atacama desert and beautiful National Park Llanos de Challe, we decided to visit La Serena. It was on the way to Ovalle, where we needed to be for our first South American Wedding - and it turned out to be perfect timing, because we arrived just in time to see a folklore festival, that was happening just that weekend. But lets talk about La Serena first :)
La Serena was founded in 1544 and it's the second oldest city of Chile, with a nice neocolonial architecture. We arrived a bit late in the evening, looking for a camp that we found in our guidebook - only to find out, that they closed 3 years ago, together with other camps - to make space for new hotels. So much for latest edition of the guidebook.
The city has sort of a good vibe - we felt very relaxed and welcome here. The best you can do is head out in the evening for a walk around the city center. Small streets, beautiful houses, guy playing on a guitar in a park, beautiful sunset... What's not to love.
The next day, we went to explore the coast, much to Janka's happiness - it was full of shells. We walked along the coast, resisting the urge to go and swim in the ocean - it was quite cold.
As we had a Japanese garden - Parque Japones Kokoro No Niwa - just a block from our hostel, we decided to have a look at it. Ivan was unhappy a little, that he would take better pictures during the sunset, but you can't always be everywhere during the sunset... :) Nevertheless, it was a perfect place to relax a little. :)
We wanted to leave La Serena and continue to Ovalle, but while we were walking around, we have noticed a few posters for the seventh year of a world folkloric event (Mundial de Folclor). When we found out it was happening that day in the evening, it was clear that we have to go there, so we stayed one more day to see it.
That evening, we were chatting with two American women that stayed at our hostel, a paleoecologist and a botanist exploring the Atacama desert, asking them if they felt the earthquake that happened a week before. During that talk, the whole hostel started shaking... :D Strange coincidence - there was another 6.9 earthquake, but now we were used to it. As our friend told us - "Welcome to shaking Chile."
After a "shaky" night and another beautiful day in La Serena, we made it to the folklore festival. We quickly realized it was the best decision we could have made. There were folklore / ethnic groups and music from Peru, Chile, Colombia and Brazil. It was unbelievable, just see for yourself.
When we thought we've seen it all, the beautiful dresses, dancers, all the differences between the countries - that's when this folklore group from Peru came and took our breath. Based on the huge applause they received, they are probably very popular - and we quickly undestood why :) It was completely different to all the other countries.
Their costumes were magnificent, the dancers showing their skills one by one in front of the others, as if trying to prove who's the best dancer. It was just incredible and the stunts were getting better and better. I had to add a video, too - have a look :)
But in the end, there was a cherry on top of the cake. With the biggest applause, the Chilean group arrived. I'll let the pictures to speak for themselves. :)
Next time, we'll go to Valle de Elqui to taste Pisco - a Chilean / Peruvian type of Brandy, distilled from the finest grapes in Chile. Stay tuned :)