Tuesday 1st July 2014
La Paz, Bolivia to Arica, Chile
Up at about 6:45am today, then we went down to breakfast in the hotel and also took our excess luggage to the hotel storage area as we will be back in La Paz after our 12 day trip up from Santiago, Chile. After we finalised our packing, we caught a taxi around 9:00am from the hotel to El Alto Airport in La Paz, arriving there a bit before 10:00am. We then checked in and waited for our 12:40pm flight. It was about 45 minutes late leaving and by the time we reached Arica in the far north of Chile and then cleared immigration and customs, it was about 2:45pm. on the way we had met a couple of German ladies and we shared a cab to the city with them. Once we had checked into our hostel, we discovered that our bags had been gone through, locks broken and contents of medical kit and toiletries bags emptied out into our bags - nothing seems to be missing though. We went out for a walk to explore the town and on the way back we met the German ladies again and had a drink with them and arranged to meet tomorrow. We then had dinner in a local restaurant (atmosphere good, food not so good) and then back to the hostel and to bed around 11:00pm. Day fine and overcast in Arica, about 17C maximum.
Wednesday 2nd July 2014
Had breakfast in the hostel this morning and walked down to the town about three blocks away. It was overcast this morning (apparently always is at this time of year due to the cold Humboldt Current just off the coast) and only about 9C, and we met our new friends Marty and Angelica at about 10:00am and had a look in the cathedral which was built by Gustav Eiffel and transported to here piece by piece from France and then we walked south from the town along the sea front. There is a huge hill here called El Morro del Arica and we walked past that and out to the Ex Island Alacran (ex because there is now a road out to it and a sea wall next to it). The waves were huge and we watched the sea breaking over and on top of the sea wall for a while, then walked along about a kilometre or so. We then walked back and had lunch in a very fancy restaurant overlooking the sea, relaxing there for a couple of hours while we took in the view. When we left our friends we planned to meet again tomorrow for another walk. Then back to the town where we attempted to pay for a day trip we are planning for Friday, but couldn't get it done. The travel agent said we should pay at the hostel, so once we went back there, they couldn't quite manage it due to "phone difficulties". We will try again tomorrow. Because we had such a large lunch, we didn't need dinner, so we caught up on our blog and picked photos and then to bed around midnight. The afternoon was much sunnier and nicer than the morning and it was an enjoyable day.
Thursday 3rd July 2014
This morning we had breakfast in the hostel, coffee, cereal, yoghurt and a warm toasted roll with cheese and ham. We then went to the travel agent in the town and tried to pay for our day trip tomorrow - no luck again, their computer wasn't working - come back before 2:00pm we were told.... We walked down and met our German friends and we decided to walk up to the the top of El Morro del Arica. It is a very steep walk but not very far and at the top there is a statue of Jesus with arms outstretched - a recurring theme in South America, not very original, but impressive nonetheless. There is also an interesting war and arms museum at the top that commemorates the War of the Pacific that Chile fought against both Bolivia and Peru in the 1870s-1880s. Arica used to be part of Peru before the war and south of here used to be Bolivia. By the time the war was finished, Arica was in Chile and Bolivia had lost all access to the sea. There was a famous battle fought here in Arica where the Chilean army stormed the heights of El Morro del Arica, no mean feat. Lots of soldiers died here, but Chile won the war. Don't think Peru and Bolivia have ever gotten over the loss. Anyway, David looked through the museum there while the ladies admired the view from the heights. After we walked down, we went to another museum that had only been open a few years down in the town. A man who was building a hotel/restaurant found bones on the property and the archeologists discovered that the bones were part of an ancient cemetery - some of the bodies were naturally mummified by being in contact with the very dry air here and some were mummified with mud and paste etc. It was a very interesting display and the museum was built on the site of the find, with the bodies in situ but under a glass floor. We then went on to have lunch in the town and David finally paid for the day trip that's happening tomorrow. After lunch, we said farewell to our friends (we probably won't see them again as we are out tomorrow and leave early Saturday) and then walked out to catch a bus to go to the Archeological Museum at Azapa about 12km from Arica. When the bus didn't come, we asked a taxi driver for directions and he told us we needed to catch a yellow taxi about 200 metres from where we had been waiting. So off we went and within about 10 minutes were on our way. We walked from where the driver dropped us off to the museum which was absolutely amazing. There were so many mummies there, including the famous Chinchorro mummies that have been carbon dated as 7000 years old, and the displays were brilliant, setting out clearly the history of the people in this area. After we had looked through the two parts of the museum, we walked backto the main road and hailed a taxi back to town - we knew the ropes then!! (about the taxis here anyway). Back to the hostel for an aperitif then out to dinner - had chcken and chips in a little restaurant then home to bed around 11:00pm. Cooler today and overcast most of the day.