Archive for the ‘Chile’ Category

So reading about the history or Arica I learn,

The city was founded by Spanish captain Lucas Martinez de Begazo in 1541, and in 1570 was entitled as “La Muy Ilustre y Real Ciudad San Marcos de Arica” (the very illustrious and royal city of San Marcos of Arica).

This city was, from 1545, the port for exporting the silver of Potosi, Bolivia. The Potosi silver mine was the largest such mine in world history, making Arica a crucial port for the Spainish Empire.

Known as the “city of the eternal spring”, it was originally a part of Peru.

Arica was occupied by Bolivia, once from 1836–1839, then again from 1841-1842 after the Battle of Ingavi (Augustin Gamarra, President of Peru made the controversial decision to invade Bolivia! His armies were repelled)

War of the Pacific (1879 – 1883) was fought between Chile and the joints forces of Bolivia and Peru (who had now made friends again.) Chile successfully took over Arica and Tarapacá (after the Treaty of Ancon) which left Bolivia as a landlocked country and Peru lost the rich nitrate territories.

And to view some of this history on my daily walk I head up El Morro de Arica, 110m over the city. It was a great place to get my bearings, with views of the city, port and Pacific Ocean. However, this headland has a far greater significance to Chileans, for this was the site of a crucial battle in 1880, a year into the War of the Pacific. The Chilean army assaulted and took El Morro from Peruvian forces in under an hour... Hoorah for the Chileans! Boo hoo for the Peruvians!

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Humberstone – Ghost town

Posted: August 11, 2011 in Chile

Day trip to Humberstone,

…influence and wealth of the nitrate boom whisper through the deserted ghost town of Humberstone. Established in 1872, this mining town once fizzed with an energy, culture and ingenuity that peaked in the 1940s. However, the development of synthetic nitrates forced the closure of the oficina by 1960; 3000 workers lost their jobs and the town dwindled to a forlorn shell of itself.

Strange wandering round a town with no people in!

Iquique – Northbound to PERU

Posted: August 8, 2011 in Chile

So onto two seaside resorts fellow travellers have advised I stop at for a night of two…

The bus left San Pedro Atacama at 13:00 and for 4 hours I just crossed desert. It really is an arid lifeless place;  mountains, rocks, dust and miles of road… nothing more! The National Geographic and NASA is it the driest place on earth.

The desert comes to an abrupt end in the west, as it approaches the  Cordillera de la Costa (Chilean coast mountain range) which runs north to south along the Pacific coast of South America  parallel to the Andean Mountains in the east. San Pedro in fact is completely enclosed by these two mountain ranges.

Not disappointed with Iquique at all, my first impressions are all good, reminds me of a town that time forgot. Yes there are a couple of new resort developments and the ubiqutos glass tower blocks with arces of balconies and polished steel, but the area of my interest if the town centre, my guide summarised it well!

..refurbished Georgian-style architecture from the 19th-century mining boom is well preserved, and a pedestrianized street, Baquedano, sports charming wooden sidewalks.

Iquique is Chile´s top beach resort and a real mix of surfers, hippies and stoners, back packers, shoppers (did I mention is was a zona franca – duty free zone?) and business/property snobs!

The one thing I am not enjoying after weeks of baking hot sun and blue skies, is a rather pesky heavy mist that comes in off the sea and hovers over the town. It is blown in by on shore winds but is unable to go anyway as the entire coastal region is hemmed in by a towering Cordillera de la Costa a few hundred metres beyond the town, so it remains hazy (but warm) most the day, thank goodness the humidity here is very low.

Sight seeing on Wednesday, hmmm let me think:

Edificio de la Aduana & Museo Naval

…colonial-style customshouse, built in 1871 when Iquique was still Peruvian territory. Peru incarcerated prisoners here during the War of the Pacific, and the building would later see battle in the Chilean civil war of 1891. The Aduana houses a small naval museum with artifacts salvaged from the sunken Esmeralda, a plucky little Chilean corvette that challenged ironclad Peruvian warships in the War of the Pacific.

Regional Museum

Iquique’s former courthouse now hosts the catch-all regional museum, which earnestly recreates a traditional adobe altiplano village (complete with mannequins in Aymara dress). The surrounding chambers also have some attention-grabbing exhibits, from animal fetuses floating in formaldehyde to masked Chinchorro mummies and elongated Tiwanaku skulls.

Teatro Municipal

Jumping fountains line the short walkway south to the marble-stepped Teatro Municipal, an ostentatious neoclassical building that has been hosting opera, theater and more since 1890; take a quick peek at the painted ceilings inside

Avenue Baquedano

Avenue Baquedano is the main thoroughfare, and its northern section is an attractive pedestrian mall. A handsomely restored tram (which normally sits outside the theater) occasionally jerks its way down the avenue in the tourist high-season. South of the plaza, Av Baquedano is lined with Georgian-style balustraded buildings dating from 1880 to 1930. Among them is the Iquique English College.

San Pedro Atamcama – CHILE

Posted: August 6, 2011 in Chile

Started next post whilst waiting for my bus, so am not actually there yet…

I arrived safe and sound after an unexpectedly comfortable over night bus trip, the bus is the best I have experienced so far I´d say. I left on time at 01:00 sunday morning, slept  fair bit en route, and arrived an hour late at 14:00 sunday afternoon… delays due to the fact the Chilean border crossing agents were being complete nuggets and checking EVERY item of clothing, luggage, etc. The indignation on the face of many tired, stressed and irritable back packer was evident… especially amongst my female counterparts. Having to EMPTY their rucksacks, trawl though every item of clean and dirty unwear, tops, halter neck tops, strapless tops, t shirts, etc then repack without the benefit of having a spare two hours! *giggles*

The Andes crossing from Salta to San Pedro Atacama through Jama Mountain Pass was spectaculor! At 4900 meters it was quite a trek up and back down the otherside, for all you none mechanically minded people, engines lose a 3-5% of power lost for every 1000 feet/300metres at altitude, so we were not breaking any speed limits!