Dear fellow avgeeks
In a time when many of you must be tired, stressed, or frightened, or might even be grieving the loss of a loved one, I'm sending you all my love and my best wishes for 2021 from this corner of the world.
I hope you'll find comfort in knowing that you are not facing these hard times on your own. I'm sure that - sooner than later - we'll be flying to fascinating places again, filling our lives with wonderful experiences that will help us put this nightmare behind.
I apologize. I should have posted this report more than a year ago because it was the culmination of a series, but the circumstances - and my mood - were far from ideal to write a decent report.
But here we go again! I hope you enjoy this part of the trip as much as I did!
If you missed the previous legs of this series, here are the links. Don't miss the fried lizard or the h*rny Incas!! LOL
🛫 🇨🇱 Santiago (SCL) 🛬 🇨🇱 Arica (ARI) on LATAM
🌄 Bonus: Tacna
🛫 🇵🇪 Tacna (TCQ) 🛬 🇵🇪 Lima (LIM) on Peruvian Airlines
🌄 Bonus: Lima (Miraflores; Historic quarter)
🛫 🇵🇪 Lima (LIM) 🛬 🇵🇪 Iquitos (IQT) on Viva Air Peru
🌄 Bonus: Iquitos (Amazon Rescue Center; Downtown)
🛫 🇵🇪 Iquitos (IQT) 🛬 🇵🇪 Lima (LIM) on Viva Air Peru
🌄 Bonus: Pilpintuhuasi
🛫 🇵🇪 Lima (LIM) 🛬 🇵🇪 Tacna (TCQ) on Peruvian Airlines
🌄 Bonus: Erotic Incas?! (Larco Museum, Lima)
🛫 🇨🇱 Arica (ARI) 🛬 🇨🇱 Santiago (SCL) on LATAM (You are here)
🌄 Bonus: Arica
🛫 🇨🇱 Santiago (SCL) 🛬 🇨🇱 Valdivia (ZAL) on JetSmart (Coming soon)
I will be brief because most of the information here can also be found in my 2017 report on ARI. The main difference is that this time I'm here before 7 a.m. It's still dark outside and the hall looks… spooky!
One of my favorite authors is Agatha Christie. I wonder why she never wrote about a crime being committed in an airport. A lonely baggage claim room looks like the perfect place for murder. No one will hear you if you scream!
I'd better not give you ideas.
To be fair, she did write Death in the Clouds. A rich lady is murdered using a blowpipe and a poisoned dart onboard a flight from Paris to London, and no one sees a thing!
What's that next to baggage claim?
Oh, I see. It's an Exposición temporal (temporary exhibition) about the Chinchorro mummies. But how is it temporary if it was here the last time I visited ARI more than two years ago! Well, you should know something about the Chilean meaning of the word temporary.
In places like Chile some words can have a slightly different meaning. In fact, when Chileans say temporary, we usually mean permanent. Proof to this is this exhibition.
This makes complete sense in my country. Earthquakes, volcano eruptions, tsunamis and other deranged acts of God are part of our daily life, so we build/fix things temporarily but leave them like that permanently because we know that they won't last! What's the point in investing time and money on expensive permanent stuff if you will have do everything all over again as soon as the next natural disaster strikes?! That's how temporary became ingrained into our Chilean DNA with the meaning of permanent, you see?
These are mummified children. They're six thousand years old. Older than the Egyptian mummies!
I'm quite sure their mother took them to the doctor and the doctor said "I will apply a temporary bandage. Come back and see me next week." But she was a Chilean mother, so you see what happened.
Oh! My fellow travelers are already queuing up.
That's the temporary FIDS. Gosh.
Boring queue. Nobody angry. Nobody yelling at the staff.
Ideas for my next novel. I'll walk on your footsteps, Agatha.
The boarding pass is not exactly made to last.
Let's go upstairs. Those wooden tables and chairs… I don't like them. I saw them at ZAL, too. They look so… small-town. Well, they must be temporary.
By the access to security check you can leave your donation to the local hogar de ancianos (lit. home of elderly) if you feel moved by their plea: "Traveler: You, who are closer to God when you fly, remember that on the earth they need your love." Try again. I'm not a religious person. (LOL I'm not that cruel. 🤣 )
After a super fast check, we make it to the boarding room.
Gate 2 seems to be a favorite at this airport.
I can't remember why I didn't check the restroom. I think I was very sleepy.
It's cloudy over the desert, but this is just fog from the ocean. Not a single drop will fall here in years.
Gate 2 will soon have a relief!
People start moving towards the gate when this lady scribbles on the temporary information board.
Some foreigners raise an eyebrow at our number 7. Yes, we slash it in Chile. Otherwise we would see number 1! Here's an interesting essay about the issue.
This time we are boarding by row number, but you never know with LATAM. It could have been by your birthday, height, eye color, shoe size…
Yeepee, here we go.
Quite a walk for such a small airport! The plane is out of sight.
One of my favorite moments :D
Still in the Chilean flag livery!
Of the three main Chilean airlines, LATAM has the most stylish seats…
…with headrests that can be adjusted to your height. Apart from that, they are the standard ironing board.
My seat and my window with a view on the construction site. Note the imitation leather upholstery. That's something I like about domestic flights in Chile. You won't find cloth, which makes me sneeze.
Those guys are no early raisers.
My flying habitat looks clean and spacious today.
More than enough room for my legs. I'm 170cm tall.
I have never ever used these things. Do they really work? Is the music good? I don't even have headphones with me. I'll have to try next time.
Tray table quite large.
The cachureo in the seatback pocket.
Just been there! ❤️
There's no point in asking me to read this. Whenever I have to make quick decisions my mind goes blank.
We're given green light.
Pushback is quite long because…
…as you see here, the road is blocked…
…so we keep backing up, backing up, backing up…
…and backing up. This is what we were looking for.
Now to the runway.
As we taxi along the runway I can see…
…Peru in the distance. Yes, ARI is barely meters from the border.
Enter text here…
Turning around with the ARI terminal in sight.
Can anyone tell me what that sign…
And here we go.
The usual derelict plane. There seems to be one in every Chilean airport.
The valley of river Lluta comes in sight.
…and then Azapa valley.
Both valleys converge here. You can see plenty of pictures in my previous report on ARI.
This is a very special corner: wetlands sandwiched between the desert and the ocean! Of course, the Chilean authorities built a road across the place. No comments.
Too bad the low clouds hide Arica from our sight. The sun is still raising from behind the Andes.
The morning fog covers the Quebrada de Camarones. To me, this is one of the most amazing geographic features. How can such an insignificant course of water carve such a colossal dent into the rock?!
Most of the desert is hidden by the clouds until we come to this point, where an invisible giant wall - probably a high pressure front - stops the clouds from moving further south.
The clouds cast a serrated shadow across the desert.
The Martian landscape of the Atacama desert stretches for thousands of kilometers between the Andes and the ocean.
Human settlements down there are always linked to the mining industry.
Copper is Chile's main export.
It's extraction generates this beautiful waste, or tailings. Too bad they are very toxic and pollute the environment. Heavy metal poisoning is a serious problem in some communities. (I'm not talking about music here, though heavy metal music is equally toxic)
About 700km north of Santiago the terrain becomes rugged…
…and a series of narrow valleys run from east to west. from the Andes to the ocean.
It's the Norte Chico (Small North), where little towns pop up in those fertile, narrow valleys. The best grapes (and grape brandy) in the country are produced in this area.
Those hills… I bet they are the remnants of an extinct volcano. You never know here!
In the quiet cabin I think "I hope I'll be able to see the valley of river Elqui!" I was there when I flew to La Serena. Ahh… candied papayas…
I close my eyes and rest for a minute or two… or so I thought. When I open them, I see these mountains and I'm completely lost!
Ah! That must be the valley of the the Elqui river! But it looks weird…
It goes south! That's not what I remember! Where on earth am I??
Oh my! I dozed off and slept for about an hour! Dow there is San Felipe, which means we are descending into Santiago!!
Los Andes, a town where thermometers reach the highest temperatures every summer nationwide. Usually above 40°C
Yes. You can't deny it. This is Santiago. Smog gets even worse in winter and fall.
And this touchdown…
…brings this memorable trip…
…to an official end.
My first time in Peru was completely unforgettable.
I hope this series of reports will move you…
…to vivit this wonderful country, too!
The economy class welcome committee is coming for me.
I'm not really LATAM's number one fan, but I can't complain. I claim my baggage and set out to auntie Cecilia's place…
…where she's waiting for me with my favorite dessert!! Leche asada, which is a very old tradition in Chile. Our abuelitas used to prepare it. Now you can buy it at the supermarket just like any pot of yoghurt. Agatha Christie mentions caramel custard in The Hollow. I googled it and it turned out to be very similar to leche asada. You MUST try it! You might want to try this recipe.
After an amazing time traveling around Peru, it's time to cross the border back to Chile from Tacna to Arica. You have to go to the international bus station and take a bus or a shared taxi. I don't remember the exact prices, but it's really low. Say, some 6 dollars the bus and 20 the taxi, or even less. Peruvian transport is always cheaper.
We head south…
It's incredible what a bit of underground water can do for the desert. Humans do their part, too, by littering.
There's enough water to keep these olive trees.
Still in Peru…
…we race along the last Peruvian stretch of the Panamerican Highway.
Thank YOU! I had a great time!
Peruvians were celebrating their National Day those days. That's why official buildings were decorated. I didn't see a lot of decoration elsewhere, though. Things are a bit different in Chile.
We are welcomed to my country by a sign that includes what seems to be the Aymara language. The intention is good, but I seriously doubt anyone needs it. In fact, Haitian Creole is much more widely used in Chile that any other native language, now.
The guy in the reflective jacket - and with a beer belly - is a typical Chilean Carabinero, a police officer. Carabineros are in charge of directing traffic, but they carry guns so they also fight crime and do a lot of other stuff. The guy on the right in a blue jacket with the letters PDI (Policía de Investigaciones) on his arm - and in much better shape - is called a detective, which is also a kind of police officer, also armed, but they investigate crimes including drug or people traffic.
As we enter the premises of the Chilean customs…
…we have to drive through this pool of water. No, it's not an expression of disdain towards our neighbors across the border (as in "You won't bring that dirty Peruvian soil into my country!") Perish the thought. It's just that Chile has been free of some plagues that used to affect agriculture, and the authorities want to keep those bugs at bay. So we are being disinfected.
Now we have to queue up and wait for our turn. All baggage will be inspected in case you decided to bring some unexpected souvenirs that grow in warmer weather.
Second airport I see today, when I didn't fly! ARI is there. I'll come here tomorrow to document the report you've just read.
Some of the things you can do in the city.
These are the northern suburbs of Arica. This is a flat area by the sea, and many people say that's dangerous in case of a tsunami. Yes, we are always thinking of natural disasters here.
As we drive south, the Morro comes in sight, a place with historical significance. The "spike" you see on its top is an oversized flag that was put there in 2010, commemorating the 200th anniversary of Chile's independence. Actually, they put one of those flags in every major city that year. The initiative didn't improve much our standard of living, though.
The taxi will leave me by these shopping centers…
…where I'll call an Uber that'll take me…
…downtown. Arica was a Peruvian town until 1880…
…when Chile won the War of the Pacific against Bolivia and Peru. Tacna was also taken by Chile, but Peru recovered it thanks to a peace treaty.
Life has not been easy for Aricans. Being our northernmost town and under the shadow of nearby Iquique - which is a free economical zone - Arica has always had to deal with high levels of unemployment and low levels of investment.
But things have improved in recent decades. Let's go for a walk around the Morro, where Peruvian and Chilean troops fought for the control of Arica in 1880.
This seafront road goes all round the tip of the Morro.
Looking up I have the impression that - if an earthquake occurred at this very moment - I would be forced to stop reporting for a long, long time. Probably forever.
Beyond the Morro, the first high rises are being built in the southern suburbs of the city.
A bit further south…
…is the El Laucho beach. No idea what a laucho could be. I do know that a laucha is a small mouse in Chile, but a laucho?? Could it be a male laucha?? I don't know.
It looks like a nice place, but the evening is falling and I want to visit the top of the Morro…
…so let's turn back on our footsteps.
I'll call a second Uber here…
…that will leave me here, at the top of the Morro. A view of downtown Arica…
…and the east suburbs that stretch along the Azapa valley.
The oversized flag I told you about. I'm no nationalist, but it looks so handsome that I will post two pictures I took.
In fact, there's a museum on top of the Morro with artifacts from the War of the Pacific. I'm not interested. My colleagues fume when I tell them that I wouldn't care if the Bolivian or Peruvian flags were flying on the school's mast. I prefer to enjoy the landscape.
The shadow of the palm trees is getting longer and longer down there…
…and the water is calm at the port…
Everybody seems to have gone home for the day…
…and few people enjoy the winter sun on El Laucho beach…
…because the day is coming to an end, and so is my trip, and so is this report. I'll stay a minute more watching as the sun sinks into the Pacific Ocean and then will head to my Airbnb to get ready for tomorrow's early flight to Santiago.
Thanks for reading!
No complaints! Domestic LATAM flights in Chile are usually punctual, their FAs are always friendly, the menu is good, and the seat and legroom are OK. Also, LATAM has the best inflight magazine I know.