Desert Sky, Dreamed I Saw A Desert Sky....
Trip Start Jun 15, 2004
105Trip End Jun 15, 2005
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Have to get up at a horrible 5.30am (why did I choose an early flight???) to catch the airport bus, which took over an hour last time, to catch my 8am flight. Bus took half an hour this time, so I was early.
Managed to sit on the right hand side of the plane, which was good, as you see the arid coastline going along the north of Chile, with kilometre after kilometre of huge plunging cliffs down to the sea, with no vegetation in site - its all desert.
Reach Arica, and its a simlilar picture - sand, sand, and a bit more sand. Caught a taxi from the airport, and whether it was a legitimate taxi was called into question when he pulled off the road and took another route when he saw a police checkpoint ahead, but I arrived safely enough to the town centre - dominated by McDonalds and a shopping mall - you could be anywhere in the world, though McDonalds arent that prevalent in Chile
Find a cheap hostel - a bit of a dive, but couldnt be bothered to look elsewhere, and then wandered Arica. Surrounded by desert mountains, totally without vegetation, and the place seems a bit darker, more, and more aggressive beggars than hitherto seen in Chile.
The dominant beggars are the Indian women, in their distinctive flowing dresses, who work in packs - you can see them working the street.
Nevertheless, place grows on me a little
Sunday April 10th 2005
Walked down to the docks, where there are maybe a dozen beached fishing boats - major seagoing ones, so it looks a little surreal, a boat graveyard. Unsure how safe it is here (Im a little out of town by now), but nobody hassles me, and by the time I find the Sunday market, the place has definetly grown on me.
The market, with its trumpet playing band at the entrance, has hundreds of stalls, selling pretty much the same stuff, but bought my new favourite chocolate bar, the Super Ocho, and had a "meat" empanada - an empanada is similar to a pasty, and is a bit of a Chilean speciality (and in Argentina as well so Im told) - It cost me next to nothing...hope I dont come to regret it!
Walk up the hill / mountain (110m!) that dominated the city, for nice views, of various graffiti, some official, some not, inscribed on the mountain sides, and a huge statue of Christ, Rio style.
Back to the city, and to the pub to watch the Colo Colo (my new chilean team) - the bar is packed out, buy my beer, and peanuts from a guy who struts around the bar with a basket of them, a cowboy hat, and apparently from a different era!
Somewhat excitable bar, and when Colo Colo equalise in the 38th minute of the secoind half, absolute chaos on the pitch - clearly the supporters cant get on, but that doesnt stop every coach, photographer, ball boy, riot police, cleaner, etc, running on the pitch for a mass fight. Two sendings off later, the second half finished, 1-1, after 53 minutes!