We set off on the two day ride from Cabanaconde to Arica, curious as to the adventures waiting for us in Chile. All we knew was that Chile would be the fourth country on our trip, and the most expensive.
That showed early on when searching for hostels in Arica. As we’d penciled in some chill-out time, we were keen ensure that the hostel be decent and have good wifi.
Back in Arequipa, a guy we’d originally met in La Paz, told us about Sunny Days Hostel. A 20 minute walk from Arica town centre, but close to the beach, and with ample bike parking. He also told us about Yoyo, the surfing instructor who lived opposite. Having learned to surf last summer in Norfolk, that got Sam’s attention.
The road to Chile, was long, boring and windy. Straight for the most part, passed endless desert scenes, and military bases. The British and Foreign Commonwealth Office, cautions visitors to Chile about venturing off the road near it’s borders with Peru and Bolivia. Apparently there are still unexploded mines in the region, and the warning signs are not always visible.
The border crossings both out of Peru and into Chile were confusing. There’s a sequential process to follow, but it’s not well sign posted. For those thinking of trying to do the border trick when selling a bike, note that it won’t work between Peru and Chile, because each country asks to see the stamped import slip from the other.
In Chile we were forced to remove all bags from he bike for screening. That was something of a pain, and took us the best part of 45 minutes to remove them all, put them through the X-ray machine and and then reload.
Sunny Days Hostal
When we arrived at Sunny Days we were greeted by the owner’s wife, who promptly poured us some juice and offered us cake. A good start, ruined when I smashed the gate whilst parking my bike.
The hostel has a large driveway with wide gate, but instead of going through there, I was asked to take my bike through the front metal gate. It was slightly inclined and there was a metal bar, that formed part of the frame of the gate, lying along the ground. When riding over it the bike bottomed out hard.
There was an awful metallic clank, and then I was through. I checked the bottom of the bike to find that the impact had slightly bent the centre stand. Nothing to worry about there, but the collision had almost ripped the iron gate of its hinges, and bent the bottom frame of the gate.
On closer examination I determined that the gate was rusty as hell. I can’t imagine a healthy one would have been damaged at all. Ross the hostel owner came out to inspect the damage and was none too pleased with his now single hinged gate. Oops.
Surfing with Yoyo
Arica itself is nothing special. We spent three days there, and that was more than enough. There’s nothing really of interest to see, and town as a commercial centre is poor.
Fortunately opposite the hostel there was a surfing instructor, and with Sam keen to surf the pacific we enquired about lessons. We weren’t expecting quite a character, but Yoyo, the instructor turned out to be a blast, and we had a wicked time surfing.
I’d never been surfing prior, but under his tuition found it easy to catch the wave and stand up on my third attempt. As it that wasn’t enough, we also got to see and some us experience some sea life, as the local sea turtles decided to splash about with us, and the local crabs chose to pinch a few feet.
Back to bike related matters and I found a stripped thread on one of the rack mount holes, which meant inserting a helicoil. Unfortunately there was no access to a drill, so I painstakinly cut and re-threaded the hold by hand. I seemed to have done a much better job than the dodgy fix I had done in Peru when a bolt on the other side snapped off and had to be drilled out.