Today we arrived at the port of Arica, Chile around 7am. We have been here before, as we did this cruise on the Infinity back in 2009. We took a private tour with people we had corresponded with on Cruise Critic. The tour left at 8am, and there were a total of eight of us. After walking down the steepest gangplank I’ve ever been down, we met our tour guide at the bottom of the ramp. Fortunately, we didn’t break our legs, back, butt, etc going down that steep ramp! Arica gets less than 1/2 an inch of rain a YEAR (it’s in the desert) and wouldn’t you know – it was raining when we arrived!
The rain made the ramp super slick, and with my sneakers, I just about busted my butt a couple times going down the ramp. It wasn’t like the Caribbean or European ports where there is a level gangway to debark on, so we grabbed onto the railing for dear life.
The port was quite busy, but our group of ten quickly got seated in the shuttle bus, and whisked us off to the port entrance where our tour guide and driver was waiting for us. As Arica gets such a minuscule amount of rain, the sidewalks around town were quite slippery. We did a short walk thru the town square, passing by street vendors who were setting up their wares for the day.
Quite a beautiful church both inside and outside, it had a unique look to without being gaudy. From the town square, we could see high on the hill the Chilean flag waving down at us, and we would soon be high up that hill looking back down.
We boarded our tour bus and first went to a rocky seashore that is famous for it’s surfing competitions due to the large waves. We watched quite a few surfers wearing body suits riding and crashing thru the waves.
From the beach we could see the other side of the hill and noticed the tall Jesus statue overlooking the town, with his arms outstretched. We went up the hill via bus, and spent a nice bit of time walking around the top of the ‘rock’. We saw up close the statue of Jesus, the huge Chilean flag, the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and went by a military museum, although we didn’t tour it. We also had a great view of our ship from high up.
Next we had quite a drive around thru the desert, arriving at an ancient Inca site which was used for storing food and other things. It is miles from anywhere, and you wonder how they found this spot. It was discovered years ago via excavation, and today you can walk thru this are, with the rocks indicating the large holes in the ground where goods were stored.
We could also see in the distance the drawings on the mountain-side. These indicated various things; safety warnings etc to the resident Incas from thousands of years ago. As it was desert and so much sand everywhere, it’s incredible these drawings are still around to see.
As we were leaving the Inca site, we saw a train come by; which is quite a rarity our guide said. We actually saw this through out the day as we made our way up the desert mountains, as did the train.
We then stopped by a small church, and tiny town out in the middle of the dessert; again miles from anything. There was an interesting cemetery behind it with huge tombstones, small individual fences, flowers, and awnings which was quite interesting.
Our guide said family members come back once a year as a picnic celebration, bringing their former friend or relative’s favorite food and drink.
Speaking of food and drink, it was now time to stop for lunch. Again miles from anywhere in the desert, we had an authentic Chilean lunch with our choice of beef, chicken or seafood Empanadas, and a skewer choice of one of the three as well, along with vegetables, breads, and soft drinks, although Dos bought a grande bottle of bier-a that he shared with the table.
We finished up the day and at least 35 k drive with a stop at an archeology museum, that was like something out of Dawn of the Dead. It was actually a modern building (without A/C though) and housed actual artifacts from 7,500 years ago to the present. There were ‘mummies’ everywhere, and one room looked like a morgue of them. Kind of creepy, but would make for a good Halloween tour if they added spooky lights and screams!