From Peru to Chile, Tacna to Arica

Vue du Morro, Arica, Chili

After one month in Peru, we left this country with a think for Rosa and her family whom made us feel so home in this country. And here we go to discover a new country! And what changes!

from Tacna, the nearby border town in Peru, a colectivo take you to the border, which is crossed without problem if you don’t have any fruit or fresh vegetables (borders officers are very strict to prevent any fruit diseases to enter in Chili). Th bus is filled with Peruvian and Chilean bringing stuff from Peru (which is way cheaper).

And you arrive to Arica, the capital of the area, in Chili. At first sight no big differences with Peru. The city is trapped between big sand dunes and the see, in the middle of the desert. Like in Peru, people are quiet poor around the centre, and many of the habitation are temporal. Neither different is the centre of the city, a bit cleaner, and you can even encounter dustbins! The big differences are in fact the prices. It’s hard to find a budget hostel, so we finished in a “residencial”, dirty and full of coach roaches! Same problem with the food, budgeting means you will be limited to empanadas, churrasco (meet sandwich) or “completos” (THE chilean hotdog, wiener, sauerkraut, tomato, avocado, and a lot of ketchup and mayonnaise).

Churrasco et completo, Chili

You will fast understand that an other difference is that people are more distant and cold. Of course there are notable exceptions, but in many hostels you will have the impression than you disturb the owner by asking him a room.

Cathédrale de fer, Arica, Chili

Like in all the Latin America, French people pocked their nose in, and in Arica you would be able to admire a beautiful iron cathedral designed by Eiffel, after the previous cathedral was smashed by a earthquake. And he did a great job, has the cathedral withstood another earthquake and the associated tsunami which carried a steam boat 3 kilometres inland!

The hill that looks over the city is called “El Morro”, and host a museum about Pacific war (involving Chile, Peru and Bolivia at the end of the XIX centuries). Museum is bad, showing a lot of pieces but don’ explain anything. Later, we learned that this war was about controlling the very mineral-rich desert zone.

Nevertheless, 12km away from the city in the desert, a superb museum is hidden in the desert : the archaeologic museum of San Miguel de Azapa. This one gives interesting insides about populations off the area, from the stone age to the actual Indian communities. The most well known pieces are mummies very well conserved by the dry climate and salted soil.
Death has always been important for Mankind, and first inhabitants of the area used a whole process of strengthening every bones with wood, taking out every internal organs, then using clay around bones, then sewing skin on the top of it. All this work for corpse, and little embryos, 6000 years ago!
A very complex task, which would be simplified over time, and people will just end to be buried in the ground.

Nevertheless, Arica is a very pleasant town!

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