Arica – Final days of Chile

The non-punctuality of the overnight buses in South America is something that you sort of get used to. They are never on time and there have been instances where they’ve turned up an hour late. Driving into Arica, me and the 2 lads I was travelling with were told that we would arrive for 8 in the morning. Although early it was still a good time to grab a taxi and head to the hostel as the reception staff would be awake and eager to take us in. However the bus drove into the bus depot at half past 5. Even the most alert receptionist would probably not answer the door when rung, but undeterred we hailed a taxi and gave the address and by 6 we were outside the hostel. Ringing the bell, we heard a dog bark in the background and 10 minutes later a dishevelled Chilean opened the door and looked at us through half asleep eyes.

“We have a reservation” I said and then apologised for being so early explaining about the bus.

“Come in and you can have that room to sleep in until proper morning” he said, pointing to an opened door on the second level of the open planned hostel.

I tried to give a smile that screamed thank you and we carried our bags up the stairs towards the room that we had been given and collapsed due to a lack of sleep on the bus, while the guy obviously went back to bed to carry on his dreams.

Arica was our last destination as a trio before we headed off on our separate ways and although we were only there for 36 hours, it was going to be adventurous! Getting our heads down we soon all drifted off.

I awoke a couple of hours later feeling refreshed and left Mike and Harry with their sleep. Walking downstairs to the courtyard, i realised that it was past 9 o’clock and I was the only person around. No wifi code anywhere to look at Facebook or emails, I just sat in a chair waiting for anyone to come in and start working. it wasn’t until 10 that someone came to put out the breakfast which actually started at 9 and then more and more people started waking up. I’m not too sure if it had been a wild party the night before but everyone looked rough, apart from the dog.

After a decent breakfast and more importantly, getting the wifi code, I started going through my messages and once complete then the 2 lads came down feeling refreshed as well. Although they had taken the trip to Arica as more of a stop off to break up the long bus journey to Peru then still had to book the next trip and that was what they wanted to do, as well as investigating the city.

At the bus terminal they booked their tickets for the next day while I looked around for where I should be going next, which looked like it could be Bolivia and the capital La Pas. Once they had the reservation in their hands we went for a wonder and as the city was well known for surfing, we had brought our towels and headed for the beach. After our previous experience of a Chilean beach we weren’t expecting much but was pleasantly surprised at clean sand and blue sea in a small area. We sat at the beach cafe and had a bite to eat with a beer and then set our towels out to grab some rays. We even had a dip into the sea which was not as warm as I thought it be, but this was the Pacific, or is it the Atlantic? Not entirely sure but it was cold. After bobbing up and down for 5 minutes my body started to get used to the temperature and enjoyed a decent swim, the first since Philippines. In total we spent about 2 hours just chilling and doing a fair bit of people watching before we got a bit bored. So cleaning up we headed back into town. On the entrance to the place is a smaller version of Christ Redeemer that is in Rio, and its on top of a hill. Being the backpackers that we were, it was a long climb to the top, mainly due to the fact it was so steep! The view of Arica from the top was amazing and seeing Jesus with his hands out gave a good impression of what to expect when I got to Rio. Looking down on Arica, you could actually tell the place was well designed and had plenty of open spaces in the main centre of town. With the late start, then the beach and then the long climb and a stop off in Mcdonalds it was time to head back to the hostel.

It was our last night together and alcohol was expected, as well as a BBQ so a quick trip to the supermarket and a few people from the hostel joined us. In fact one of the guys gave me advice that I should go to La Paz as it was a decent place and quickly made a note of the hostel that he recommended. To say I got emotional that night would be an understatement. Spending 3 weeks with Harry and Mike was the longest on the road I had spent with fellow backpackers. Even though they were only 18 and 19, they were mature more then me and had sensible heads on their shoulders. We shared the same sarcastic sense of humour and they gave me fresh eyes for backpacking and seeing adventures. I know that in my time travelling I have met some amazing people but there are a handful that I can say I have truly clicked with and these 2 guys had been perfect travelling buddies, from celebrating my birthday in style when I first met them to celebrating in style on our last night, to cycling deserts to sharing crap buses over a long distance. The next day I travelled with them to the bus terminal and although we had got there early so we could say our goodbyes (very gay) to each other, there was a bit of confusion which ended in them in the back of a car with passports having extra paperwork and being driven away. A very short farewell and think in the long run if it had gone smoothly then there would have been one of us going… “Somethings going to happen!”

For the first time in about a month, I was left on my own again and I knew that I had to get on with it, the goodbyes when travelling are the worst when you meet decent people, but I headed back to the hostel and knew it was the perfect time to chill out, spend one more night and go wild with updating my blog as I had put it off for so long. It was my last night in Chile and it was still a surprise that I had turned up in the country but had thoroughly enjoyed it. I feel that there is not that much difference between Argentina and Chile in climate, in culture and in community so it didn’t really sort of click in that I had done 2 countries even though I had done the border control and had different money in my wallet. Bolivia was going to be next and I had mixed feelings about going there. With the limited knowledge that I had of the country being full of cocaine drug barons and not even knowing any cities or towns there, I knew it was going to be a new experience but I also knew that it was coming to an end…….

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