Published: August 9th 2007April 12th 2007
Lonely Planet has summarized that “the most lasting impressions you’ll take away of Chileans is undoubtedly of their renowned hospitality, helpfulness, genuine curiosity and heartfelt eagerness to make travelers feel at home”, maybe this does not apply to Arica…..
I have had the opportunity to visit this northern most city of Chile during the Semana Santa weekend. It’s a port city and also a stopover for tourists who are border crossing to Peru.
Arica is quite a nice place to spend a weekend despites those unfriendly locals and tasteless food. El Morro de Arica, the commercial area at 21 Mayo Street, beaches, the fish market near the Arica Port, Iglesia San Marcos, Isla de Alcran etc are a few interesting places worth visiting.
Iglesia San Macros is designed by Alexandre Gustave Eiffel, the same engineer who got his fame on designing the Eiffel Tower in Paris. I think this is the only attraction of the iglesia because from the look of the iglesia, you cant tell it was actually designed by some engineering-celebrity. He has also designed another building, the ex-Arica Aduana, where both buildings were actually precast pieces manufactured in France and then shipped to Arica to
I have intended to visit Lauca National Park, where we can find snow-topping volcanoes and sparkling lake. Too bad the tour operators did not organize any trip to the park during the Semana Santa. Not sure it’s worth going back to Arica just for visiting the national park; hopefully the trip to Huaraz can compensate what I’ve missed in Lauca……
Also had taken a boat trip for seabird-watching, and the ride was about 45minutes for 1000pesos. We have had a brief encounter with some families of sea lions having sunbath at the sea. It seems like they were also having a break during the Easter Day.
The fish market nearby the Arica port was my favorite place where people were selling fresh catches from sea and also vegetables and fruits. With the sea breeze and friendly birds that were waiting for free lunch, it was quite a nice place to spend the morning just to enjoy the sea lions gig with the local children. The market at Maipu street also a nice place to shop for cheaper souvenirs as compared to those souvenir stalls at 21 de Mayo which are a lot more expensive. The
market is like 10blocks long and surprisingly the street food sold here are more delicious then those in the restaurants.
Another thing surprised me is Blockbuster still doing well there, which happened to be a disaster and already closed down all branches in Peru due to pirated DVDs which scattered all around the countries with only 3soles per no (about RM3)….
Before entering the country, I’ve been told by my Peruvian friends that Chileans are unfriendly. Initially I thought they said it because both countries claim to be the origin of pisco, which happens to be both countries’ national drink. Peruvians have also been defeated by Chileans back to their battles in Arica, and I thought what they told me might not be true.
However, after my third kind of encounter with them, well, at least the Chileans in Arica, there is not single friendly person I’ve met throughout the five days I’ve spent in Arica! All the Latino hospitality that I’ve found on Peruvian has gone without a trace on Chileans! To name a few: the waitress in restaurant (who reminded me I have to pay the 10% tips upon presenting the receipt), the waiter who
pretended to be so naïve to order all the three dishes for only one person (I only asked him to explain what were those on the menu does not mean I have to order all of them, and this happened in the Lonely Planet recommended chifa Ching Huang Tao, plus I am confident that my Spanish is good enough to tell him what I really wanted), the cashier in the botica who is being so impolite when asked her where can I find mineral water, and another cashier in McDonalds who insisted that Two Muffins Menu is different from Menu de Two Muffins and taught me how to order McDonalds combo etc.
(Sorry for being a drama king) And there were thee occasions which happened in different places where the cashier changed the money with always short of 1000 or 500pesos. Well, maybe they have to improve their mathematics or perhaps, their business ethic. I was very surprised that Arica being a touristy city but the locals are not tourist-friendly at all!
Another thing to complain (sorry, I know what I am bullshitting here should go directly to Arica Tourism Board) is the local food. After a few
months in Peru, I thought Chileans will have something good to offer as well. Too bad the two neighbors have a huge difference in their taste buds. Perhaps the only food that I was not swallowing (in order to finish my meal as soon as possible) are the popular empanadas and Big Mac from the giant M. No wander most the Chileanas I met were slim (not bad at all huh!)
Hopefully my idea that Chileans are not tourist-friendly can be proven wrong during my future trip to Santiago. If it doesn’t, at least I have already had my mind prepared and would not be pissed off easily….
There are more photos below