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Northern Chile

Short visits through San Pedro de Atacama and Arica


After 3 days and nights in the Bolivian desert it was time to have a shower and wash some clothes phooooeeee! We cross the border into Northern Chile and head to the closest town, San Pedro de Atacama.
At 2440m above sea level and surrounded by volcanoes San Pedro’s town square and adobe houses preserve a colonial feeling despite the hoards of outa towners stopping by for a short visit before taking on the adventures available in the surrounding terrain. The town felt like a bit of a tourist trap as the fumes coming off the credit card thickened with the elevated prices…...
We enjoy an evening or two wondering around cobble stone streets, snacking lightly in cafes, but get the next bus to Arica, a coastal town 20km from the Peruvian border, a site where Chile and Peru battled in the war of the Pacific. There was a strong army presence in Arica.
Steve was chasing a nice swell but was boardless having left his boards in Lima for the whole Inca trail trip thing. ‘It’ll be right I’ll be able to rent a board and a wetty, could maybe even buy me a ¾ steamer cause I’ll need it when we get to Chile yeah!?’ he says. Well I’ll let him tell the story from now on in……
Yes not a good idea but anyway as you can see from the above pictures Arica was going off the day we arrived. Offshore!!! 6ft?? 4 guys out??????????. Was hard to tell how big it was and how many people were out but I think I could see 4 dots on the peak.....Get me a board and a wetty I AM OUT THERE!
8hrs later I was still boardless, and slightly psychotic would probably be an understatement. The search started by meeting the guru of Arica, a big wave charger, can’t remember his name, who hobbled around the house holding his back going ‘aw man yesterday was pumping’ and….’dude they’re my babies sorry I can’t lend 1 to you it might snap…’ Ok….I stormed off going ‘sheesh not even the old yellow one!’ ummmm, I get back to our hostel and am asked by the hostel manager, who spoke in Spanish of course, ‘Como estas?’ Well not so good today. I explained to him in my spanglish the current, very desperate situation and it turns out he was holding a 6’6 rounded pin for an AUSTRALIAN girl who was down the coast a few hrs - He calls her to see if I can borrow it - ALRIGHT put her on the dogs bone I’ll talk to her, fellow Ausie should be easy right! But not alright. She didn’t pick up.

I tried surfboard shops - they had boards to rent but without fins, I tried Mr ‘but they’re my babies’ big wave charger for fins - nope sorry. AND still no answer with the Australian girl after 4 attempts.

FOR 8HRS we searched for rent-a-board dudes on adjacent beaches, back and forth between surf shops and locals and our hostel and we must have covered about 12kms. What did I do to deserve this torture the surf was cranking!? What ever it was I was defeated. I could have bought a board but the arvo had gone onshore so we just sat and watched it……

Wow Steve was not in a good mood, and ended up putting me in an even worse mood with all his 'I didn't surf Arica' blues. The next day he went for a jog really early to blow off some steam and we didn’t sleep well. He returned as we woke up..... ‘3-4ft pumping and no one out, lets get the f&^k outa here’ he grumbled. And we did, we all got a ride in the coolest collectivo ever across the boarder and then caught the next bus to Arequipa - Peru’s second largest and possibly most beautiful city.

Anyone for some choco bum snacks or some freshly squeezed frog juice?

Posted by jessnsteve 03:33 Archived in Chile Tagged backpacking

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