Latest Update (as at 30/1/11):

Location: London. Back.

Total Distance Cycled: 10,325km
Days Biking: 140
Longest Day: 174km (2/12/10)
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Monday, 2 August 2010

ABC

A B C , Its easy as
1 2 3 , as simple as
do re mi, A B C
That´s how easy a trip should be!

Argentina, Bolivia, Chile. What a shame that Denmark, Dubai or the Dominican Republic aren´t next. Still Darkest Peru is and then Ecuador so I suppose we are not doing too badly on the alphabetti spaghetti.

Chile. How lovely that has been. We are only going to have resided in Chile for five days when we speed off to Peru today. Peru which is a mere twenty kilometres away but if you listen to any Chilean cab driver is a world apart. Cross border rivalry and general all round grumbling seems alive and well which is extremely amusing and oddly reassuring.
But Chile. Ah Chile. Or more specifically Arica. Land of machine coffee, unbelievable cake and cafe culture. A seaside town that is an amazing fusion of Venice Beach, Copacobana and Southampton (Try and actually imagine that!). It has pedestrianised walkways, big public fountains, a massive cliff top monument and a proper container filled port.

And it has pelicans. And vultures. Pelicans and vultures everywhere. The first sit on the port side their ludicrous large beaks bobbing sagely or fly, all prehistoric looking, really low over the water, the second swoop about everywhere looking elegant and dramatic and then gang up on the cliff tops looking ungainly and ugly with small featherless red faces and a worrying look in their eye.

Everything is here because of the sea. The Pacific, fully of yummy seafood, which pounds the coastline relentlessly or smooches up to it all lapping and twinkly. In the main it pounds, and stretches as far as the eye can see. North to Peru, South to more of Chile.

We have spent our days off catching up on sleep, writing blogs and making calls, washing everything we possess, shopping for food and getting the bikes ready for the next chapter. In between times we have strolled around the centre of town, taken several walks on different beaches, eaten, eaten and eaten again and then when we were done with that eaten some more. There are few occasions in life where one can justify a piece of cake not just once a day but perhaps twice but this has been one of those times and we have more than capitalised on it. It has been bliss.

Arica is a place that seems very at ease with itself. It's very nice. There is a general air of well being and the almost permanently sunny days (Arica is reputed to be the driest city in the world with perhaps only 5 days rain a year) means that life can be very comfortably enjoyed outdoors in the nice soft sea air. And people are very nice here too. They chat, they help you, they are interested. The cars stop to allow you to cross the road, with almost insistent niceness. The streets are clean and well....it's all just soooo nice.

It is a place however that has been cruelly punished by nature. Like the awful recent earthquake further South, Arica has been a victim of sitting at the foot of mountains that remind us that the earth can sometimes be very angry. Two sizable seismic incidents in the nineteenth century, only nine years apart, saw it deluged by tsunamis. There are evacuation signs all over town as a pertinent reminder that permanence is not to be counted on.

We had our own little brush with nature's changes when out on a cliff side walk. We stopped to enjoy the view at one point and heard an odd cracking sound. We turned to see huge rocks bouncing down the mountainside a few yards behind us and crashing onto the path where we had been only a minute before. It was an odd sensation realising how close we'd come to a rather crushing blow. It was amazing how fast it all happened. Nature is very definitely the power in charge!

And we are re-charged and ready for more biking. There is a 'nice' stiff tailwind blowing in our proposed direction that people keep telling us will go on and on. We are setting out for Tacna, a place that is testament to the political charge of the area having been nabbed by Chile for nearly fifty years before being returned to Peru in 1929. That is what the big mound monument is all about. The War of the Pacific. Chile won and here in Arica they are very keen on that.

And we are very keen on Arica, in case you hadn't noticed. How nice. Lots of people here think that we should stay in Chile and enjoy more of what their country has to offer. It is one of the trickier bits of the trip trying to choose which bits to do and which bits not to. Everywhere is lovely and fascinating of course.

But that is where the alphabet comes in and makes it so easy.

Darkest Peru. Here we come.

3 comments:

  1. Ayr, Broughty Ferry,Cumbernauld, Dunfermline, Edinburgh.....we can all do it you know! Take care Liz. x

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  2. hello both, seems that you are still going strong! well done! Ive been thinking about you when i cycled last w-e for about 15miles! Hope this post will get through as I dont seem to be able to post it everytime I hace tried!
    valerie and ainsley x

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  3. Loving your stories: Arica felt like a real backwater little town coming in from Santiago but then visiting Bolivia was like going back in time and returning to Arica was joyous. Awesome adventures folks, great blogs. Feeling v. envious: not sure I could persuade wife and 4&6 years olds to replicate the feat!

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