His tower is a bit more famous

Trip Start Jul 02, 2009
Trip End Jun 28, 2010

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Flag of Chile  ,
Friday, October 23, 2009

The bus from Iquique to Arica took about five hours which will give you an idea of how much territory the Peruvians lost to their Chilean neighbours in the War of the Pacific.  Given my failure to view Isluga, I was especially keen to book onto a tour of Lauca National Park.  I would have liked to do a two-day trip but (initially) was unable to find any operators prepared to do this.  Having booked a day trip I was then told by another agency (who quarter of an hour before had told me it was most definitely impossible)  that they could now do it.  However, I'd already paid the other people and in any case the price per day, even allowing for the need for overnight accommodation, was steep. 

Arica is at sea level and the Lauca tour takes you up to 4500m which is not what the experts recommend for a day trip.   We stopped at this little church on the way in and made another stop later for some local altitude sickness therapy.  I'm not sure if it had any effect but it was a hot drink and didn't taste too bad so I wasn't going to complain.

The blue sky had disappeared by the time we got to the main photo stop in the National Park.  I was beginning to feel the altitude and was less disappointed by the lack of sun than I would have otherwise been.  Kirsten and Barbara are two German students who had been studying in Santiago and it was Kirsten who took my pic in front of Parinacota.

I managed to get a couple reflection shots, taking advantage of the stillness of the water in the absence of wind.  We then made another stop at Parinacota village where peversely the sun had started to emerge.  At this stage I was really feeling yucky and had just about lost all enthusiasm for taking photos or interacting with those around me.  I wondered what it would like to go up Everest without oxygen.  Or Sherpas.

Then it was back to Putre and I managed a shot of two deer through the window on other side of the (moving) bus. 

The next day I visited the Museum San Miguel de Azapa, which is out of town in the Azapa valley and well worth making the trip for.  I didn't take any pics of the mummies inside but rather liked the museum's setting and got a couple outside. 

You can't miss El Morro de Arica which is to the south of the town and looms over it.  As you'd expect, the view from the top is excellent.

A battle was fought here betweeen the Peruvians (who used to own Arica) and the Chileans (who now do).  At the start of the battle the Peruvians held the high ground but the Chileans successfuly dislodged them from this formidable defensive position.  Looking at the terrain I couldn't help thinking that the Peruvians must have somehow snatched defeat from the jaws of victory (maybe they got lessons from the French).  It was good to see that Pinochet had forgiven the Peruvians even if the Peruvians had not forgiven Pinochet.  El Morro de Arica is a bit of a tourist trap and I saw a bus that might have fans of South Park looking elsewhere for transport through the Andes. 

I wandered back down into town and passed the San Marcos church which is made of iron and was designed by Gustave Eiffel.  I'd been in Plaza de Colón the night before where they were appeared to be running Arica's got Talent, thankfully without the tiresome B-listers who make up the judging panel for the dreadful British equivalent.  You can see bits of the stage that hadn't been taken away in the pic.  

The flight back to Santiago provided some unexpectedly good photo opportunities since it wasn't as hazy as I'd expected it to be.

Most flights from the north of the country to Santiago stop at Antofagasta and I soon spotted a C-130 and AWAC.   The C-130 actually belonged to the Argentine Air Force and I was very curious to know why it was there.  My theory was that Michelle Bachelet and Cristina Kirchner were planning a joint invasion of Bolivia to confiscate the entire sweater collection of Evo Morales and put him on trial for crimes against taste and fashion.  Branson, beware!

Then it was back to Santiago and there were good views of the Andes on this leg of the journey.

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