We are both fully aware there has been a month long (or more) silence on the blog and we have been meaning to update but then putting it off until something changed and the post was more positive and had cool stuff to share. Life has been kind of in the slow lane for a while for us, we are still in Chile and just hanging out really.
Since Sally got bitten by the dog we had been living in Iquique in Northern Chile. The healthcare in Chile is great and free and the bite was pretty big and very deep, it really required a lot of attention to stop it from getting infected and potentially putting Sally's whole trip on the line. Every day we would ride across town to the doctor and get it cleaned and re-dressed until it was good enough to sort ourselves. It still hasn't healed but it isn't an issue now. Then there was the long course of Anti-Rabies injections that took more than a month in total.
We went to Iquique thinking we would be there for three days or so and ended up staying five or so weeks. Without glossing over the situation too much; this was obviously a massive blow to our trip, in particular our budget. We only have twelve months and one of them was spent in a city, living in a hostel which cost way too much money. The problem with the Atacama is that your either in a city, or your in the desert with nothing. No food, no water, no petrol, nada; there aren't small coastal towns or resorts. It's the driest place on earth so you're either in a town or you're dead in the desert. Wild camping has too many issues in one of the most hostile environments in the world, shade, water, keeping food fresh and all of that stuff.
On the plus side, Iquique was an awesome city. It's clean, bright, friendly and well serviced. Good fruit and veg market, surf shops, ding repair guy, great people and beautiful beaches and water. The people have a glow to them, the pace of life is slow and everyones cool. Groups of young girls and dudes skateboard down the promenade, bodyboarders congregate in the shade, families BBQ on the beaches, everyone smokes this horrible smelling weed all day; it's got a kind of Californian vibe to it (I imagine..). The downside was that it is in Chile so it's expensive. I cut my feet up badly and wanted to buy some plasters, it was going to be £6 for 6 plasters.
The surf was pretty consistent but it is the bodyboard capital of the world and we couldn't get our heads around that. Not just kids, but full grown adults would cruise around with boogie boards and flippers dropping in on you and being assholes. It was pretty weird and funny to watch but also pretty annoying at times. It's the first time we've ever felt like the odd ones out for being surfers. But they would go deeper than we would ever dare and I've seen footage and photos of them surfing some crazy waves and getting crazy tubes so its all good I guess.
We made a good friend in Maxi, a local dude who we gave tons of photos to. He would pick us up and drive us around a load and we got to surf loads of cool places and hang out loads. We met other people in the surf community and they were all awesome people, if your reading this Maxi, Jose and family, Marcello, Andres, Maria, Dani, Vinko, Carlos, Begoña, Jorge, Marcos and co. thanks for having us, todos ustedes son bienvenidos en Inglaterra, pero es muy frio!
There are a bunch of photos underneath that hopefully show that we are both surfing better and my water photography is getting better. I swam in the heaviest surf yet and loved it, can't wait to shoot more.
So healthcare aside, there has been one other issue. Chile loves bureaucracy, loves it. We had some papers Alejandro thought would work for the bikes, turns out they wouldn't because we are English. We took some advice from other locals and travellers and started the process of a transferencia but in the spirit of Chile, things have many steps, many hurdles and take lots of time. We have spend countless hours in Notarias, Registro Civils, Tax Offices and all that kinda stuff. When the 'Padron' is ready in the next few days, the Peruvian Embassy assure us we are good to go, wish us luck.
Our break for freedom came the day after Sally's final injection. We loaded up for the first time in forever and hit the road at sunrise. It felt so good to get on the road. We rode up to a small pueblo 200k from Iquique (no shops, no water, no fuel, nada) and set up camp on an empty beach at about mid day, the wind in the Desert is strong from late morning onwards so we wanted to avoid that. We set up the tent and got stuff sorted, every so often a set would come, 5-6 foot of gurgling shoredump barrels, spitting with malice into knee deep water. We watched for a while and saw a few rideable ones but both skipped on the suicide surf and opted for reading, music and cooking a simple meal of black beans and tomato sauce, with crackers of course. We got up early the next morning and hit the road at dawn, the road was amazing and it was so beautiful in the dawn light. Canyons, mountain passes, ancient petroglyphs and desert landscapes. We arrived in Arica mid morning and found a nice hostel run by a dude from New Zealand and got some breakfast.
We decided to stay for two nights here in the Hostel and spend some time doing some exploring, finding the waves and a spot to camp. We think we are going to camp on the outskirts of the city for a week or so, there is a really good swell coming and we want to make the most of the quiet waves, beautiful coastline, turtles and cool city. We are going to leave most of our stuff with the Hostel owner to make life easier. I might get a fishing rod (haha). We should get the final piece of paper work really soon and then we will head into the mountains of Peru.
Here are a ton of photos anyway.