Trip Start Dec 03, 2008
Trip End Oct 14, 2009

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Flag of Chile  ,
Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Soon we were in the town Arica, Chile. Now Peru is one hour ahead of the Midwest, and Chile is two hours ahead of Peru because of daylight savings time, so we had a little time change to get used it. We got there just after some buses had left for Iquique so we had to wait about 2 hours for the next one. We couldn't read the menu at the restaurant so we ate ice cream and drank beer. Not sure if we'd have wanted to eat there either so it was probably for the best. Next was the 5 hour bus ride to the coastal, desert, mountain town of Iquique. The hostel we wanted to stay at was full so we went to our second choice. An old man named Domingo answered the door and showed us to our room, it wasn't too bad until I went in the bathroom and saw a dead cockroach on the floor - but at least it was dead. We are stationed in the historic district of town. It was straight out of an old Clint Eastwood film. Wood-planked sidewalks and old saloon looking buildings on either side. It was built in the early 1900's during the nitrate mining boom. It is a pedestrian walkway with trolley tracks down the center. Half the buildings are abandon and the others are hotels or restaurants.

One night, we were enjoying a beer outside at a restaurant and a woman came up to our table in a hurry and held out her hand - that was filled with band-aids - she wanted to know if we wanted to purchase any. Humm? No. The weird thing is she went to a bunch of other people sitting outside the bar and people were actually buying them. What? We still don't understand that one. Brian's thinking they must be laced with some kind of drug - but they were still wrapped. So that was the first time we've had someone try to sell us band-aids before, not to mention in public at a bar.

Okay, so we understand trying to use your talents to make money (aka Paris Hilton...hehe, just kidding), but were confused when a man came up to the restaurant (same night as band-aid lady) and stood 10 feet away from our table and began beating the side of his guitar a few times as though he was trying to get a bug out of the center of it and then walked away - we just looked at each other like...ok, but 5 minutes later came up to our table and held out his hand. Sorry, buddy, no can do. He got mad and called us something but oh well. Did I mention that the bar we were at had LIVE music playing and you wouldn't have been able to hear someone play the guitar outside - much less banging the side of one?

So we spent 5 days at the Iquique beach. We originally were just going to spend two and move on but we loved the beach so much we had to stay. But we just couldn't stay at the old man's hostel anymore. So after the 2nd night we moved on down the beach to a Backerpackers Hostel. It was a very good choice. This place is made for young travelers - they had a kitchen we all shared, games, outdoor area, BBQ, pool table. All sorts of things that help people meet each other. The best was making dinner every night in the kitchen with 10 other people. It was fun to talk about where people have been and where they're going. The funny thing about our room was that our bathroom was bigger than the bedroom. The bedroom was dark and didn't have any windows and the bathroom had 2 huge ones and a ton of open space. So, we spent a lot of time in the bathroom.

It was a good decision to travel to South America during our winter. We went right back into summer and with summer comes the long days that I was missing in Chicago. The sun wasn't setting until almost 9:30 so our routine was to have a beer on the roof and watch the sunset with other travelers, play a few games of cards, and make dinner at about 10 pm. Time really flew by everyday with the time change and all.

The best part was that our hostel was directly across from the beach. Now I'm used to the beach being busy in the morning and in the afternoon people leaving about 3 or 4. But here, the time to go is 4. The local people showed up at 4 or 5 and stayed until after sunset. The water was cold but felt great in the 90 degree heat. We did pretty good about not getting too much sun. I figured the last thing I wanted was a nice sunburn before a 24 hour bus ride to Santiago. Brian spent a lot of time in the water body surfing - some of the waves were absolutely huge! One day a big seal swam right by him. It was amazing. He'd pop his head out of the water with a month full of seaweed, look around and dive back down. Up until the seal we hadn't seen any significant sealife so we were surprised when on the same day Brian got stung by a jelly fish - a huge one! Good thing it didn't hurt as bad as we hear they usually do. His leg was red for the rest of the day but that's about it. I had offered to pee on the sting as that is supposed to help the pain, but Brian quickly declined. No, I really wouldn't do that - I bet I could have found someone that would have though.

The locals in Iquique have very unique was of celebrating Christmas. Even though we only were there until the 21st, it was amazing how much celebration we saw. The locals decorate their trucks and then load them up with big speakers/amps and people dressed in Santa clothes. They drive around town blasting music and throwing candy at anyone within an arms throw. They did this day and night the entire time we were in Iquique. Once we weren't even really watching them but they threw a big wad of candy at us anyway and yelled Merry Christmas. It was awesome!

As with everywhere else we've been in South America so far, Iquique has it's fair share of wild dogs. Although the dogs in Iquique seem to be more sexually active. I'm not sure whether it's the warm weather, the sandy beaches, or the beautiful sunsets, but they give a new meaning to doggy-style. (Brian wrote this). There was a house dog at the second hostel we stayed at. One night, a lady brought over her dog and we were entertained the whole night watching them chase eachother around. So funny!
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