Published: August 16th 2012August 16th 2012
Day 304 Friday 10th August
It is a shame that most hotels just have to have something wrong with them, this place has been a good hotel, right up to check out. At 6.00am we are checking out and there is an annoyance small but still it is a pity. The hotel conversion rate is 2.8 for US dollars to soles when every other hotel has been 2.7 and if you use Mastercard they will not do it in US dollars so basically it is a rip off. After some consideration we pull out the last of our US money, which includes the 100 dollar note no one in Peru would touch (it is not counterfeit it is just Peru will not except $US100 bills) and she accepts of course she had no choice because we will not give her anything else. Outside the streets are quite and we think we may have to walk to the Plaza but as usual a taxi appears out of nowhere and we are on our way to the bus.
For those that are lucky/unlucky enough to have a copy of our vast itinerary, from today it may not be much use to
El Morro De Arica
you as we are running clean off the pages. Our original plan was to move on to Bolivia but instead we are doing northern Chile which we missed late last year. All going well we should pick up on our route somewhere in Bolivia, but for a little while we are free wheelin.
The bus company is Oltursa and has a similar setup to Cruz del Sur, but not as polished. The trip is through the most desolate countryside which is so dry. On the flat sections we see plots of land marked out with stones or just lines drawn in the dirt and within the boundaries small huts or even just a few bricks, we are not sure but it seems like a land claim. Further on we come across some green patches with crops and livestock, not sure where the water is coming from, but maybe the “land claim” people hope it will head their way and they can farm their dry land.
We arrive in Tacna about 1.30pm and decided to get a collectivo across the border instead of trying to get the afternoon train. We ended up paying too much but at
Iglesia San Marcos - Cast Iron Church
least we were underway within a short time, the driver stopped at the Peruvian checkpoint and waited for us to get stamped out and then it was onto Chile which involved a stamp in, a quick check of our bags for fruit and for our driver to pickup a BBQ really not sure where it appeared from. He and another man struggled to get it on the roof and then opened my (Shelley) door to stand on the door sill so he could tie it down. This would not been an issue other than the fact we were crammed in so me being on the edge I got a crotch in my face, travelling you learn to take these things in your stride so I turned the other way to see the huge exposed stomach of the other man thankfully further away but close enough to see that he suffered from a bad rash. I got to know these two men a little more than I had wanted I know you have to be friendly when travelling but this was a little too friendly. The drive from here was under 30km to the town of Arica a coastal town in
Iglesia San Marcos
Chile, we were lucky the collectivo dropped us off right near the hotel we had chosen of course the BBQ was also been dropped off here.
Back in Chile we have to get used to the huge jump in prices, initially I looked at the room and was going to say no way it is too expensive then I remembered where we were. We hit the streets to see what is available and stopped at a little local type café and ordered a hamburger each. We got a plate with 3 hamburger patties and a huge pile of chips each and no bun I thought she said plato as she walked away so was not surprised. Hamburger Plato is exactly that no bun as you have the plate to hold it all, the content does change from place to place and this one did not have anything healthy like salad. On the way back to the hotel we stopped at the supermarket for supplies and then turned in for an early night. Day 305 Saturday 11th August
We are now back in the land with cake for breakfast and this hotel did not disappoint, the
Old steam train
lady served us a nice toasted sandwich with ham and cheese and on the table was a slice of cake each. This town does not have a lot to see but one of the major attractions is Iglesia San Marcos a Gothic-style church designed by Alexandre Gustave Eiffel and fabricated in Paris in the 1870s and then shipped here to be assembled. The cast iron church is now showing signs of deterioration but still looks pretty. This town is quite nice compared to a lot of the border towns we have been through.
Because we are once again on the coast the area is shrouded in the sea fog until early afternoon just like Lima, but what really surprised us was how cold it is. We had sort of expected temperatures in the high twenties, but it felt like the low twenties. We stopped for a sandwich at a café in the mall for lunch before wandering around some more. Arica has a great lay back feeling and it is the perfect place for us to take it easy for a couple of days. The town is also full of “colourful characters”, one of which was a guy who
sat out the front of café talking to a coke bottle like it was a phone. We can’t get a decent connection on our laptop but this guy was able to have a good chat on his coke bottle…figures.
For dinner we started out having a couple of drinks at a bar and ended up staying for dinner and a while afterwards. It wasn’t till we were heading home and thought about what we had paid for it all that we realised that they had made a mistake on the bill and had got a good discount on the night. Usually we are ripped off so it was nice for a change to get it wrong the right way. Day 306 Sunday 12th August
Another day in Arica and another day of taking it easy. We considered hiring a car for a day and going for a drive but instead bludged in town for the day. Had a slow start to the day and then went looking for warm clothing for Shelley to help her get through Bolivia. As usual Shelley saw and tried on heaps but didn’t buy, but it was a good morning window shopping. The big retail shops were open but nearly all the small ones were closed. Stopped for a coffee before heading home to watch the Olympic closing ceremony. The one big bonus for our hotel room is a huge flat screen television and we opted to spend the afternoon to watch the big event.
For dinner we headed back out to see what was open. Because we are now back in Chile we have to get used to the change of hours and the fact that not a lot is open on Sundays. Ended up settling for “Schop Dog” or as we like to call it “Slopdog”. This is a chain restaurant/bar that serves fairly mediocre food and it’s principle food is piled plates of chips, meat, cheese, hot dog and eggs. We went the least offensive pile of chips, bacon, steak and sauces, washed down with a pitcher of beer.