Wednesday, August 21, 2013
The next morning we made our way along the beach road to find our camping site. Camping Sumaki is close to the north end of the playa about 200 meters down a dirt road so we were hoping it would be quiet and relaxing after our hair-raising drive from yesterday. But when we arrived the place was busy and overflowing with teens. It turns out that the campground is owned and managed by Christians and on Sundays they run youth revival meetings. We were assured that it ended at 5pm. Winston had a wonderful time introducing himself to all the kids and making new friends. He even sat and visited with them in the music hall, he was sorry to see them leave! We spent the next couple of days exploring the city and planning the next part of our trip into Bolivia. Arica is really not typical of a border city. In some ways the people whose families has lived in the area for years consider themselves as much Peruvian as they do Chilean. The city belonged to Peru until the Battle of the Pacific and did not become a territory of Chile until 1929. There is also a very strong pre-Colombian indigineous culture which is evident in the number of geoglyphs in the region and in the Azapa Valley which has some of the world’s oldest known mummies on display at the museum. But we spent our days roaming the beautiful and surprisingly clean beach. Nestled into a bay, the brown sand beach stretches for about 3 miles and the water was clear and very much suited for surfing with rolling waves. But it is still too cold without a wetsuit so Tom resisted the urge to go in with his boogie board. I mention clean beach because the biggest disappointment of the Chilean beaches is that they are not very clean. Apart from the beaches close to Santiago, the rest of them heading north are quite dirty with trash and debris from the tides which is not cleaned up regularly – if at all. After the sparklingly clean beaches of Brazil and Argentina, it is hard to get used to the trash and more disturbingly, the people don’t seem to care. Only in Antofagasta at the surf beach we stayed did we see people try to make a difference and pick up after themselves. We also checked our route into Bolivia. This will be the highest we will take the motorhome and at some of the passes including the one to the border we will be over 15,000 ft (2,800 meters). Also, the road is steep, winding and loaded with trucks, so it will make for an interesting journey to the border. We are also going to take it easy and slow. One reason is for us and Winston to acclimatize to the altitude and the other because of the motorhome. We plan on making the 100 mile to the border over a four day period with the first stop being before Putre at a posada (inn).