After La Paz and the Bolivian highlands, Arica, our first stop in Chile, was quite a shock. Imagine a city, actually more like an oasis, bordered by the Pacific Ocean and the desert. Imagine, 30C all year round. Imagine quiet streets, cars that actually stop at red lights and a supermarket. We were in shock, after Bolivia.
The first thing you learn in Arica, is to take it easy. Actually, the first thing you learn is to put a lot of sunscreen. But after that, you realize that you have to do like the locals. Walk a bit in the morning, let´s say between 10 am and 12 pm. Eat. Sleep for a few hours after that: all the shops are closed after lunch, anyway. Then wake up at 5 pm, have dinner no earlier than 9 pm (restaurants not open before that) and hang out in the streets until midnight (which is only two hours after sunset after all).
We really took it easy.
One thing we really wanted to do, though, was to check out the plane tickets. Our next stop was going to be Santiago, the capital. In 2002, we took the bus there and it was a memorable ride: 32 hours non stop in the desert, one day and two nights in the bus. We did not want to do that again. But thanks to discount airlines, it was actually cheaper to fly. And faster too: only 3 hours. We booked our ticket with Sky Airline and relaxed while waiting to go South again…