Surf´s Up

Trip Start May 16, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Arica, Chile - June 28th - June 30th, 2007

Day 44

Arrived in Arica at 7am just as the sun was rising.  Upon speaking with local tourist info guy I found out that today happened to be the final day of competition in the Rip Curl Pro.  So I quickly got to a hotel this time right on the beach and got myself to the competition.

Upon arriving the competition was well into the swing of things.  I got to see the semi-finals and the final.  There were heaps of locals there.  So it appears as though the Chileans in Arica also really enjoy their surfing.  The waves were quite good and of decent size.  Many times the surfers got into deep barrels and would make it out, which was very impressive.  The competition showcased many of the best surfers in the world such as Kelly Slater, Mick Fanning, Joel Parkinson, the Hobgood bros, and Andy Irons.  The final ended up being between Andy Irons and Damien Hobgood.  Some great surfing took place with Andy Irons winning.  Once again this was another amazing moment on my travels being able to see the final day competition of the world championship series.  My gut instinct to travel to Arica proved to be correct.

After the competition finished I decided to keep walking to the southern beaches of Arica.  I walked along to Playa El Lauch & Playa La Lisera.  The scenery was rather strange.  The city is actually surrounded by sand dunes and the beaches I thought are certainly not as nice as the ones back home.  The sand here is a dark brown.  I guess white sand beaches do actually look much nicer.

Coming back into town I ventured to a very nice park called Plaza Vicuna Mackenna.  The park had some lovely palm trees and a nice water fountain.  Continuing on I went up the hill to El Morro de Arica.  This hill provided great views of the surrounding areas.  Up on the hill there is also a big statue of Jesus.  The South Americans do seem to like statues of Jesus or Cristo Redentor in high public places.

After a bit of a stroll around town it was time for lunch.  I fuelled up on some rather good pizza.  Then I headed north.

My walking tour took me to the northern beaches of Arica.  I went a bit of a long walk to Playa Chinchorro and Playa Las Machas.  The waves here were rather small and nowhere near as good as Isla de Alacran.  But I was simply happy to see beaches again.  I realise that I am a born beach bum.

For some reason I decided to stay at a hotel here, which is nice to have more comfortable bed and private facilities.  However, it does mean that the social aspect is gone.  As such I decided to head out into town have some dinner and see what the locals are like.  In the first bar I went I struck up a conversation with a few local lads who were both had a keen interest in rugby and surfing.  However, they spoke very little English so it was a little difficult trying to communicate.  However, we all somehow understood each other in the end.  After a few drinks we went to the big party on the beach (El Lauch).  It seemed like this was the place for all the supporters of the surfing contest.  Everyone seemed to have been at the competition during the day.  It also seemed like everyone was wearing some brand of surfing clothing (Quiksilver, Billabong etc.).  Quite a good crazy party.  I also met a very crazy Chilean guy who gave me a copy of a local punk rock band.  The band is Los Miserables and seem to be quite good.  Once again the travelling life has proved to be very random, which I like.

Day 45

Got up to get some culture.  I decided to visit the Azapa Museum.  To get there I had to catch a colectivo (a cab or taxi that leaves when it is full).  The ride out of town is about 20 mins.  The museum hosts a range of Incan artefacts.  However, the drawcard of the museum is the mummy on display.  I was told by the tourism office that this is possibly the oldest mummy in the world.  I am not sure if this is correct or not and havenīt bothered to investigate.  The museum was good but it was very small so it didnīt have a great deal to maintain my attention.

After getting back to town I simply decided to check out the waves again at Isla de Alacran.  But they were not as good as the day before.  But still nice to chill by the ocean again.  After which I cruised around the town.  The town itself is not that nice looking, I think there is a bit of a dirty feel.  But maybe I just get that from the brown sand dunes surrounding the city.

Later on I enjoyed having my own room on the beach with the sun shining down.  It was actually warm enough to loose my shirt and soak up the rays (at last).  The afternoon and evening were quite peaceful and relaxing which was actually quite nice.

Day 46

Got up early to catch bus to Arequipa, Peru.  Got to the bus station at 7am.  Apparently to cross the border from Arica, Chile one must catch a colectivo (or at least it is easiest this way).  So I have now experienced another land country border crossing (this will become old hat in no time).  Upon arriving in Tacna, Peru we found out that there were no available buses for another 4 hours.  However, this time flew past.  I was happy to leave the bus station in Tacna as it was rather dirty and depressing looking (possibly like many bus stations around the world).

The landscape over here really seems bizarre to me.  There will be many kilometres of sand dunes and desert then once in a while there will be lush green towns.  But I must say once again travelling over the mountain range of the Andes provided some amazing scenery.  The bus arrived in Arequipa at around 7pm, so today was a shorter commute than my other trips.

Checked into my hostel which was very central and convenient to the main attractions.  From Arica I had been travelling with a German fella.  So once checked in we went across to the local eatery.  The steak meal here cost $9 soles or about $3 US.  Bargain, but was also absolutely delicious.  A great convenient local find.

After dinner went back to the hostel.  Met some hilarious Israelis and had a few drinks.  We started watching a movie called Turista.  Which is about western tourists travelling in South America (Brazil) and experience the worst that travelling can provide.  I was told it is a bit of a horro movie like Hostel or Wolf Creek.  Why I would want to watch that whilst I am travelling in South America, I have no idea!  However, the movie would not play so we avoided witnessing any bad bits, which was probably good.  So instead we decided to head out to the local club with it being a Saturday night.  The place is called De Ja Vu which was a good place however it didnīt warm up til late on.  So here I am in a new place with new friends having a great time.

Day 47

Time to head out and see what Arequipa has to offer with a traditional stroll.  I must say that I really like the look and feel of this city.  The city is called the white city or blanca ciudad due to the many white buildings made from volcanic rock called sillar.  Plus the weather was actually fairly warm when walking around in the sun.  And I in-fact thought it too warm to wear shoes.  Ah so nice to be able to walk around in thongs again.

One of the jewells in the city is the main square called Plaza de Armas.  The square is very nice looking with the central water fountain, trees around and some nice looking buildings on the sides. 
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