Public Service Messages from Arica, Chile
Trip Start Jan 15, 2010
27Trip End Nov 09, 2010
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Where I stayed
We really liked our almost week in San Pedro de Atacama and when it came time to leave we went to the two bus companies in town to check on how to reach our next destination - Arica, Chile. One had a "promotion" going on, which sounded nice until we heard they likely stopped at every farm on the way. We ended up choosing the slightly more costly bus (still cheap), with the hopes that it would take us across the country in style and more quickly. We forgot one key question!!! When we got to the bus, it had NO A/C - and felt like it had been baking in the hot desert Atacama sun all day long. It was too late at this point, so we resigned ourselves into our seats and strapped in for the nearly 10 hour ride
We arrived in Arica, Chile almost exactly as planned at 6am the following morning. The bus was hot and a bit ripe (thanks to the partially functioning toilet in the back), but it was at least on schedule. As directed from the Arica hostel we had booked, we were able to strap on our backpacks and head off into the dark (6am is still dark at this time of year) and walk about a half mile to the hostel. Sunny Days Hostel would be our home for the next two days. Ross, the New Zealander owner of the place told us he would be up prepping breakfast and to just ring the bell when we got there. We did just that and sure enough Ross greeted us and invited us in. He's clearly done this entire routine before with arriving backpackers from Atacama, so he showed us our room and invited us to nap for a few hours and return for breakfast after some better sleep than we got on that bus. We did just that, sleeping 2-3 hours and still waking in time for what we would quickly "vote" was one of the best breakfasts to this point of our journey
Breakfast would be one of our highlights for being in Arica. There really was not too much more that attracted our attention with this small beach town on the border of Chile and Peru. Perhaps if we had given it more time for exploration we'd have learned more about it, but we quickly determined we'd be moving on from here quickly. We met some fun couples, one from Finland that we would travel with to Putre and La Paz and another from Australia and New Zealand that we shared dinner and travel stories with in Arica.
On the one day that we walked to town we passed several walls across from their fish market that seemed to be broadcasting public service messages about cleanliness and food eating habits. At one point in history Arica had some serious PR achievements too, as the main church and some other buildings in town were designed by the same Eiffel that did the slightly more famous tower in Paris.
All in all, it was a short stay and a nice transition for moving on to Putre in the high mountains. Ross was a very friendly host that served up a great breakfast and a welcoming smile.