Friday, March 2, 2012

fun with the sun and saying goodbye to Chile

Lining up to re-enter the Peruvian border - pack in tow
well, this afternoon I've left Chile for the 5th and last time. I've zigzagged in and out across the Andes a couple of times, and also treaded the Peru/Chile border crossing twice. Today I was treated to a 25minute (yes, you better believe it!) frontera crossing. This is the same crossing that was closed last week for a couple of days as landmines had drifted onto/near the road because of the heavy summer rains. obviously the new local tourist attraction, as I spotted groups of stopping and milling around the side of the highway seemingly hunting out said mines.

this final visit was close to a month... and I have to say I am very glad to leave. I've spent the last 2 weeks getting rid of stuff; the bike, gear, clothes, tents, sleeping bags rah rah rah. I still, somehow, remarkably and entirely not remarkably have an outstandingly heavy pack. I don't think the little I'll drop off tomorrow In Arequipa will make a difference, but hopefully in the next month I'll be able to give away my camping stuff as I won't be needing it in Nepal. A good aim?... I guess to get to a 10kg pack. Hah! We'll see.
Iquique is beautifully sited between the dunes and Pacific
Amazing desert valleys on the route from Arica to Iquique - the WHOLE of the cost from  north of Santiago in Chile, to like Quito in Ecuador is pretty much this landscape. All 4000kms of it about.

Some shanty houses just outside of Arica. The not so polished side of Chile that they turn from. 

the nice (and at times not so nice) thing has been the desert/coastal heat. It is HOT. the sun burns, and from about 10am to 5pm, it's too hot to do too much. But lucky for me, I went to Iquique in search of markets to sell my clothes (which I sold for about 20% of what I paid for them 4 months ago). Iquique is mildly more attractive than Arica, sandwiched between the dunes and the Pacific. But... it is a beachy summer resort town, and as it's Chilean school holidays still and around Carnival, it was packed to the hilt. Ironically, in 15 months of traveling, it's the first 'proper' beaching I've done. I got to go barefoot running in the morning, morning and afternoon swims to cool down, finding respite in the heat and people with meditation on the sand,  copious amounts of icecream and antics with other travelers I met.

Buautiful puesta del sol - sunset
Playing around!

Chantal, Shannon, Gesine and me

these antics included playing around with the sunset and having mock light-saber fights with illegal lasers. to make use of the beautiful west coast Pacific sunsets (just think... just over the horizon a bit of a ways is the east coast of Australia!), Sunday night saw 4 amateur photographers/models posing and clambering over clam clung rocks to hold, caress, flick, do yoga with and finally, use the sun as a halo. somehow inspired by those endless horizon shots from the Salar I think, and lots of, at times, slightly blinding fun.

the lasers came about as Shannon, a guy from Australia, had heard you could buy 3km range lasers from the duty free zone. this resulted in a rather excited Chantal (from Canada) zooming off at 7pm to get one too. that then resulted in copious (often bad dad) laser jokes and beach antics.

after coming back to Arica for one last day, this morning I went to the Chile post office to send some stuff home and unfortunately not receive my bank card, met Frank for an expresso, then zoomed off to the border.

my great alive with pleasure memory for my last day in Chile? singing and dancing along to the disco that was playing at full volume in the cab on the way to the bus station! It might have had something to do with the couple slurps of delicious (and expensive) Carmenere wine that I polished off before leaving, and very funny conversations with the other people in the cab, but I like to think that it was the perfect finish to my Chilean experience.

Border crossing out of Chile. Lots of lines. It is so much cheaper in Peru, that Chileans cross the border in the morning to shop all day in Tacna (Peru), and then return in the evening. They also come across for medical/dental treatment too as the standards are much higher, and much much cheaper.

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