CC’s mum visits Coquimbo

Our next day trip from La Serena was to be Coquimbo – described in the guidebook as the ‘ugly sister of La Serena’… yeah, well it looked pretty cool to us! We must like ugly things….

We didn’t tell CC’s mum that we were going to make her climb up loads of stairs 🙂 We knew that she would enjoy it once she got going 🙂

…. why all the stairs? Because we were going to make a pilgrimage to Coquimbo’s star attraction – the CROSS OF THE THIRD MILLENIUM! Yes, it sounds grand doesn’t it!?

But first things first…. after our short 30 minute bus ride from La Serena (the two cities are pretty much joined together) we went to the shopping centre – not to buy anything, but for two main reasons…. 1) FREE TOILET! 🙂 Yeah – In Chile it’s important to use free toilets whenever you find them – there aren’t that many… and 2) This shopping centre has a viewing deck! Yeah – check it out….

CC and CC’s mum enjoy the shopping centre viewing deck. Yes, it is a bit cold… another grey day in the La Serena area…

Next stop was the seafront to look for some birds…

The seaside at Coquimbo – not its finest attraction. But there are nice beaches further along the coast – but who wants to go there?

Although there were no birds on the beach, we did find an exciting new animal – previously unknown to man….. A SEA WOLF! Yes, a wolf that lives in the sea…cool or what? Don’t believe me? Here is the evidence….

Prohibited not to feed the sea wolves….

You may notice that it is prohibited NOT to feed the wolves – so we HAVE to feed them?! How confusing?!?! If you understand Spanish, the sign may make more sense as it says ‘Danger. Don’t feed the wolves’. Of course you wouldn’t feed the wolves…. but still, isn’t it amazing that there are wolves in the sea at all!

Well, it may seem like it – but it’s only as amazing as the fact that there are Lions in the sea as well. Yes – Sea-lions…. and in fact sea-lions are called sea-wolves in Spanish, so it all makes sense now, no?

We found a sea-lion (lobo marino) (sea wolf) – and we didn’t feed it.

After the excitement of the wolves, we proceeded along the shore to the fisherman’s market area in search of lunch – but it was mostly closed for renovation and it was a bit dilapidated…. but….. we did get a heron spotting extravaganza! 🙂

Juvenile black-crowned night heron.
Black-crowned night heron.
Snowy egret.

After the heron show we headed up to the main square for lunch, and as if the excitement of the day hadn’t been enough already – it was time for CC’s mum to try a COMPLETO ITALIANO – a Chilean delicacy… otherwise known as a ‘hot dog with avocado, tomato, and mayo’… yes, the Chileans love these…..

CC’s mum CANNOT wait to eat her completo…
Coquimbo’s main square also has a pretty church.

After lunch we were ready for the main event of the day…. the great ascent to the Cross of the Third Millenium!

But in the interests of religious equality – first of all, here is a picture of the mosque in Coquimbo.

The mosque in Coquimbo.

The mosque in Coquimbo is very striking and sits on top of a big hill. There are not very many mosques in Chile (around five apparently… nobody seems to know!)

Anyway – we were here to ascend to the cross of the third millenium, and so off we went!

The Cross of the Third Millenium sits tantilisingly in the distance…

To get to the cross, you leave the main square and head up some steps. You can’t see the cross once you are on the steps – which was a good thing for CC’s mum, as she couldn’t see how far away and high up it was! 🙂

Stairway to heaven…. upwards towards the cross….
CC’s mum on the brightly coloured pathway towards the cross.

Once the steps have finished, the cross comes into view…. BUT IT’S STILL SO FAR AWAY!… 🙁 🙁 CC’s mum was a little shocked at how far away it was – but having come this far, she soldiered on…..

We are now within sight of the cross…

FINALLY, after lots of hard toil, a little bit of guesswork as the signposts had disappeared, a few sit-down stops, and a brief stroll through a market area – WE MADE IT!

CC’s mum was VERY PLEASED! 🙂

Beneath the cross in its full glory.

So, let me tell you a little bit about the cross…. It is 93 metres tall and 40 metres wide… that makes it more than DOUBLE the size of the tiny Jesus in RIo de Janeiro

Yes, it’s very big – and also the hill it sits on is 157 metres above sea level… YES, so we made CC’s mum climb a 160 metre hill – we are mean like that. So all in all we had views from around 250m high.

It was opened in the year 2000 and is made from concrete (you can probably see that….). Some might say it’s a little ugly – but I LOVE concrete structures! 🙂

It has a small museum with some religious stuff in it, and photos of when it was being built. Not only that…you can go up to the top of the cross and be INSIDE the arms of the cross! Yes – inside the cross! Luckily for CC’s mum there are lifts to get you up the cross and more stairs were not necessary 🙂

This was the second time now that we had been INSIDE a cross – yes we do know how to find crosses in South America that you can go inside…. (our first ‘inside-cross’ experience’ was in Uruguay)

Of course the main reason that we go up these things is to look at the views (yes, not for a religious experience…), so here they are..

Looking over Coquimbo from the cross.
The back of Coquimbo from the cross.

We enjoyed very much looking out over Coquimbo, and we even declared that it ‘looked better than Valparaiso’… this is sacrilege to Chileans, so don’t tell anyone that we said that…

Still, all good things must come to an end – and after a while we made our way slowly down the hill back to sea-level and the bus home after a successful trip out to Coquimbo…

CC and CC’s mum head down the hill from the cross.

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