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Published: March 8th 2014
3 March 2014 – Monday – Arequipa, Peru to Arica, Chile
Notes: Mostly desert. Oasis with grape vines. Joan busted for carrying a banana. Through Yura, the cement capital of Peru, desolate and ugly mining area.
We rode another bus for 7 houses along the Pan American Highway from Arequipa to the border town of Tacna in Peru, where we caught a collectivo that took us to the border crossing between Peru and Chile. The driver assisted us and the other three passengers with the process of checking out of Peru and checking in to Chile. (Joan got busted with a Peruvian banana but was allowed through with only a warning!) Then he drove us into the town of Arica and dropped us off at the bus station. Our hostel was across the street from the bus station. We dropped our luggage in our room and went to a nearby Pollo Brasso to share a typical roast chicken and chips dinner, accompanied with a 1.5 liter bottle of Coke. We polished off the entire bottle of Coke, a whole chicken, and a small mountain of french fries.
On our journey we passed through the mining town of Yura,
which is a desolate and miserable looking place. In one of the valleys we also passed some irrigated fields where grape vines were among the crops being grown. Most of the trip, however, consisted of vistas of brown dirt and sand for as far as we could see.
4 March 2014 – Tuesday – Arica, Chile
Notes: Walk into city centre and up main pedestrian shopping street than out along the coast to the beaches. Nice lunch at El Buey on terrace overlooking Pacific. Visited two buildings designed by Eiffel of the Paris Tower fame – one a church and the other a former Customs House now a Cultural Institute. Visited the Mummy Museum,. Shopping on the high street; beach towels and a flashlight. Walk back through Thompson Street market. Irish street names. Tickets for early bus to Iquique tomorrow.
Arica reminds Joan of Darndale in Dublin. We walk through run-down neighbourhoods into the city centre which only reinforces her displeasure. We walked along the waterfront to the port and the two buildings here that were designed by Gustav Eiffel of the Tower in Paris fame. One of buildings, a former Customs House, is now a Cultural
Institute. The other building is a church that was produced in Paris and brought to Chile and assembled there to replace a church destroyed by a tidal wave caused by an earthquake. Both buildings contain his trademark metal support structures and spiral staircases.
We walked further out along the coast to a couple of beaches and then had a nice lunch on a terrace overlooking the Pacific Ocean at El Buey restaurant.
We also visited the Mummy museum. In 2004, while digging in the area of the foundation of a new hotel, a burial ground was discovered containing mummified remains. It was decided that the mummies remain in situ and a museum was built around their graves and the hotel was sited elsewhere. The museum is very interesting and a bit creepy in that the graves are opened and covered by a glass floor so you can walk over them.
Arica contains two streets named after the descendents of the migrant Irish, Patricio Lynch and Bernardo O’Higgins.
Bernardo O'Higgins (August 20, 1778-October 24, 1842) was a Chilean landowner and one of the leaders of its struggle for Independence. He was the illegitimate child of Ambrosio O’Higgins,
an Irishman who immigrated to the New World and rose in the ranks of the Spanish bureaucracy, eventually reaching the high post of Viceroy of Peru. Although Bernardo had no formal military training, he took charge of the ragged rebel army and fought the Spanish from 1810 to 1818, when Chile finally achieved its Independence. Today, he is revered as the liberator of Chile and the father of the nation.
Patricio Lynch (18 December 1825 – 13 May 1886) was a Lieutenant in the Royal Navy and a Rear Admiral in the Chilean navy, and one of the principal figures of the later stages of the War of the Pacific, a war fought from 1879 to 1783 between Chile and a united Peru and Bolivia over disputed territories. His father, a former Colonel in the Army of the Andes, had settled in Chile from Argentina and he was the grandson of Patrick Lynch, an emigrant from Galway to Buenos Aires in the 1740s. Patricio has been nicknamed the "Last Viceroy of Peru" and the Chinese slave-labourers he liberated from the Peruvian haciendas, called him the "Red Prince" because of his red-hair.
(Each Chilean town and city seems to
have major streets named after these two descendents of Irish immigrants.)
We walked the pedestrian high street and Joan did some shopping and I sat on a bench just behind a very busy market stall selling knit products like dolls and bibs and watched the Chileans passing by. We also walked through the Thompson Street artisans market and then trooped back to Darndale to catch the early bus south the next morning.
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