Saturday, April 11, 2009

In Arica

Well, as long as I'm spending another day here in Arica, and am feeling too lazy to pull on a wetsuit and go sufing, might as well get a few more thoughts and observations about this little outpost of a town on the Northern edge of Chile.

Arica is actually a thoroughly pleasant and tranquil town. Generally, most travelers just make a brief stop here on the way to/from Peru or the Lauca National Park. The place is certainly helped by a nice quiet Sunny Days hostel, run by Ross, a New Zealander, who can provide a wealth of information about the area, rent a bike or a surfboard, give you a ride to the bus station at 6:30 in the morning, and provide a nice hostel bed, along with some of the best breakfast I've had yet. That (and the fact that I don't need to be in Cuzco for another five days) was actually the main reason for me to have stayed here an extra day - just a chance to relax (and upload pictures). As for the rest of the town? Well, it's a regular stop for cruise ships, so it's got a lot of people running around trying to convince the passengers to go along with them on a tour of the city. Not sure why you'd pay to go though as you can walk around the entire city in about an hour, and here all the highlights you´ll find:

There's a 110m high rock overlooking the city. Christ the Redeemer sits on top. Did you forget it was a Catholic country? Yesterday was Good Friday, a national holiday. A procession of people went by our hostel at night singing, holding candles, and carrying a cross...

Arica's a beach town, hugging the Pacific coastline - look out from the top of the big rock

As mentioned in the last post, the sunsets over the Pacific from the top of the rock are pretty spectacular too

There's a couple of guns stationed at the top of the rock, guarding it, I presume?

Speaking of guns, this was the scene in the middle of the city the first day I was here... Don't know the details, but this used to be either Bolivian or Peruvian territory, and I believe the soldiers were commemorating the conflict with Peru, which apparently left both sides feeling rather sore

There is, of course, a nice church in the center of town too

Arica's pretty serious about protecting your lungs too - smoking's bad, mmmkay?

Additionally, about 10km along the coastal road South of the city, there are some limestone caves created by the waves eroding the coastline, so yesterday, I picked up a bike and pedaled my way down there to have a look:

Waves splashing against the rocks on the way South

And the caves right in front of the water

And from 'it's a small world department,' it took me coming to Arica, Chile to find a most unexpected acquaintance - Tatiana, a woman, also from Moscow originally, currently residing in Connecticut and good friends with my aunt who lives in New Haven... Oh, and Tatiana's son had gone to the same school as I did back in Russia, and they know my former English teacher quite well, the one I had rather wanted to look up while back in Moscow last summer... Well, I suppose you travel long enough, you are bound to run into all kinds of fascinating people!

Well, that's about it, honestly. I'll relax here for another day today, then tomorrow, it's off to Peru! Hope the buses run on Easter Sunday... Did get a chance to upload another batch of pictures, now that I'm done with Chile: Chile in pictures.

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