View from the hill!

View from the hill!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Chilean Coastal Towns

I can´t bring myself to leave Chile!

In Iquique I had heard very mixed reviews of Arica, the next coastal town that I had planed to visit on my way north. At the Iquique Backpackers Hostel many other travelers warned not to even bother going to Arica. But I have just extended my stay once again and am wondering what these people were talking about, I had orginally planned on staying one night but am going on my 3rd night now. I am glad I didn´t listen to their advice and skip Arica all together!

One of the things about traveling and staying in hostels is that the people you are with can really affect your opinion of a particular town or even country. Although I absolutely loved my hostel in Iquique and the location (just steps away from the beach) could not have been better, I did not form any really great relationships there. I had met an Austrian guy on the bus from Calama to Iquique so we shared a taxi to the hostel, hung out on the beach together and watched the sunset from our awesome rooftop balcony. But he was moving on after only one day, so once he left I was again on my own. The hostel was full of other South American´s who were traveling in big groups. This meant that the times when you usually meet people (cooking dinner in the communal kitchen, watching TV in the lounge and drinking out by the BBQ) was a bit difficult because they were all already in their own little groups and were speaking spanish.

As soon as I arrived in the Arica Surf House I knew that this was going to be ¨home¨for a few days. I was greeted by the smell of ANZAC cookies and four friendly girls wishing me a happy Australia day. After eating lunch with them I went out for a walk to explore town. Another South American beach town, really nothing special but I have come to realize that all of these little towns are similar, and not all that exciting. The beach is quite a hike from the hostel, there is a huge port in Arica and you have to walk past the port to get to the beaches. Arica is known for its surf, and specifically for the Ël Gringo wave, which people come from all over the world to surf. High above the town sits the Rock of Arica, the Morro de Arica, is a steep 30 minute climb from the hostel and has been our nightly sunset viewing spot. On top of this rock you can see the entire town of Arica and beaches that span as far as you can see both north and south. The past two nights the 3 australian surfers (Stuart, Lockland and Drew) along with Jeff, a surfer from NY, have gone up the hill together and seen some amazing sunsets.

21 De Mayo is the main pedestrian street and it is lined with cafes, shops and fruit vendors. There is also an amazing grocery store there so the first day here I stocked up on groceries and have been cooking everyday, and making fresh fruit smoothies after lazy days on the beach. Last night was my first night out since Ecuador. We started by drinking wine as we watched the sun set then once back at the hostel we played some drinking games (incliding uno!) and then headed out to a discoteca right on the beach. The clubs here do not even open till 1am and people dont usually go till 2 or 3. It was a fun place, but I actually think I enjoy just hanging out here at the hostel just as much.

Tonight will be my last night here and then tomorrow I am going to take a collectivo to Tanca (across the Peru border) and then a bus on to Arequipa. I am en route to Cusco to see Manchu Picchu and then headed to Montanita, an Ecuadorian beach town, to end the trip with a few more relaxing days on the beach.

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