Published: January 3rd 2012August 16th 2010
We flew from Santiago to Iquique on Sky Airlines - their office is based in Santiago and very accessible.
We were to be in the care of the Guides and Scouts of Iquique. We arrived at the (teeny) airport to find two taxi drivers battling it out on who was supposed to be picking us up! We got in the taxi - having no idea where we were going but we were eventually met by some women who were in charge of looking after us for our stay - Lify spoke perfect English so communication wasn't a problem and the other two Spanish speakers were easy to communicate with despite the language barrier. We were lucky enough to be staying in an appartment which was for rent which was small but perfectly adequate for 6 people and it was nice to have our own space for once! We were taken to meet the leaders that we would be working with so we all attempted to introduce ourselves in Spanish! Day 2:
We had a leisurely day and wandered the town to discover more. Iquique is a coastal town in the Atacama Desert and is sandwiched
between the Pacific Ocean on one side and a gigantic sand dune on the other. Due to the strange location of the city there was mass panic in the wake of the Chilean earthquake of 2010 when the threat of a tidal wave forced the inhabitants of the city to cram up the one road leading up into the desert above the sand dune. Luckily a tidal wave didn't strike but every street corner has direction signs in the case of tidal wave. Another interesting thing about Iquique is the layout of the town. The front strip is well watered, full of morning joggers and dog waters but one block back a shanty town stretches right back into the desert.
We spent the afternoon hanging out on the beach where we were accosted by yet another of Chile's overly friendly stray dogs. Me, Liz and Lynne got horrifically lost and confused trying to buy large white paper and ended up in a Sodimac Homecenter store accidentally ordering 20 rolls of wallpaper!
In the evening we were taken out for a night on the town. This involved drinking the Chilean drink 'Pisco' which is like whiskey with lemon juice
and a raw egg. We were a bit unsure about the raw egg but it turns out it makes it taste so much better! Kat and Dani got dragged into being taught Chilean swear words and at that point we decided it might be a good idea to move onto the club. For some reason we were escorted straight away to the VIP part of the club but we soon moved to be with everyone else. Our eyes were rather opened by 'Regaton' dancing which was described as 'Sex with clothes on' - very true. Youtube it if you don't believe me! Day 3:
A ridiculously early get up considering the late, late night last night. We were picked up by various people in cars (and squashed in like sardines) and taken up into the desert to Alto Hospico which is a poorer township just outside of Iquique. Here we were introduced to our very first Chilean Scout meeting. In some ways it was really similar to ours over here with songs and games but the main differences were the regimentedness and the fact that girls and boys aged 6-18 meet all together. We were treated like celebrities
and plied with gifts. The rest of the day whizzed by in a crazy blur of visiting what felt like every scout group in the city, including one who were having a Regaton party! Day 4:
Today was our first day of proper work. We all piled down to the beach and were joined by 80 Golondrinas (the Chilean equivalent of Brownies), a banging sound system and several newspaper reporters. We spent the morning teaching the children games and songs (and learning some ourselves), being interviewed and generally soaking in the sun. In the afternoon we moved to a nearby school where we ran sessions with the children on Guiding around the world, what it means to be a Guide and what a Guide can do to help change the world. It was a fantastic success and we were rewarded by a show of national dancing and what felt like hours of paparazzi-style photo sessions. Day 5:
Today it was time to leave Iquique which was pretty much too much for us to bear! We caught our flight to Santiago which was with PAL Airlines. We were very apprehensive about the flight as we had been
told that when LanChile had finished with their planes they sold them to Sky, and when Sky had finished with their planes they sold them to PAL. We didn't have breakfast just in case the plane couldn't handle it! We made it back to Santiago in one piece - complete with our handwritten boarding passes and not before having discovered that they kept their breadrolls in the plane's loo! Things to know about Iquique: Getting there:
Best done by plane, it is possible by bus but it will take you 24 hours, so it depends on your itinerary and budget. In our case we were on a tight timescale so we flew. LanChile, Sky Airlines and PAL fly to Iquique from Santiago. Other flights come in from Peru and Bolivia on their way to Santiago. Getting around:
Iquique is relatively flat so getting around by foot is easy. Buses are a bit confusing as they are in most of Chile but taxis are reliable and safe. Things to do:
Visit the tax-free port for a bit of shopping, walk along the sea front and paddle in the Pacific Ocean, visit a casino, take a trip into
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