The busride to Iquique was rather unspectacular. We left San Pedro just at the right time before the rain hit the town – which only happens once or twice a year. We had to switch buses in Calama which gave us the opportunity to watch some TV in the bus station. A hilarious show called “mega-vacaciones” kept us entertained and looking back and comparing with the show we definitely felt like being on mega-vacaciones ourselves! A word which would be used a few more times during the next days.
Arrived in Iquique and were picked up by our Chilean buddy Fernando who had already organised an apartment for us. Cheaper than a hostel but way cooler!

Iquique is is famous for its tax free shipping zone and its beaches. The water is rather cold since the entire coast is affected by the cold Humboldt Current which brings cold water and a lot of fish to the northern coastline of Chile. The beaches do have a spectacular view 😎

During breakfast we – don’t ask me how – came to the topic of Mett. Mett is a very German tradion of raw and chopped meat which is consumed with onions on bread rolls. But try to explain this to a Chilean…?! Cow is vaca. But Mett? Vaca-Mett? A good laugh early in the morning…
On the second day we went to the beach again and explored the city a bit more. Some people say it’s the Miami of South America – I honestly don’t know about that. The long beaches and the high rises yes, but the rest…? The old street with some antique buildings definitely has its charme. And if you ever end up in Iquique a safe (and the only one I found) place to buy good coffee is Muselina Cafe!

 

 

 

On our way to the supermercado we took one of the very common collectivos – taxis that go to a certain place and people hop on, hop off along the journey. Cheap and very efficient. Especially when you fill up the entire cab with your crew. We asked the driver if the drive to the oasis we wanted to go to on the next day was about an 1:30 drive. He thought about it and then replied – yes, it’s about an 1:25 drive. What??? I thought the Germans were known to be precise… 😂

We did have a great asado at our place with his sister Carla, boyfriend Luis, a cousin and girlfriend. Heaven on earth here – my absolute favourite red wine on this planet is Carmenere. A grape which only grows in high altitude in Chile. Usually a struggle to get but here the entire supermarket is just packed with it!

Next morning we all went to an oasis in the middle of the Atacama desert – Pica. An awkward setup. Not only that suddenly a green spot appears on the horizon in the middle of the desert – no it’s also fully commercialised. The spring which fuels the oasis is turned into a swimming pool with all facilities and amenities. Quite strange after a 1,5h ride through the desert…

On the way home from the pool we stopped at an old mining town – Humberstone. They started mining salpeter in the early 1800. After crisis and the discovery of the artificial production of salpeter in the 50’s the mining stopped and the towns were abandoned. Now this one is turned into an museum. Super-espectacular!

 

 

 

 

 

 

And even the Offebäscher (the unimportant neighbour city of my hometown 😂😋) were present in the museum with an advertisement for Chilean fertiliser in 1904!

After a quick shower at home I embarked the bus back to La Paz. Luckily one with comfortable seats. After a four hour ride we arrived at the Chilean-Bolivian border. Guess what – closed until 8am. But nobody seemed to care. The bus was parked in the queue and everybody went to sleep. Unnecessary to say that I was the only foreign person on the bus. At 8am (which was even one hour later due to the time difference) everything started moving.

People left the bus, and back with coffee. The bus was reparked a few times – but I stayed in the vicinity of the bus since it was still another 350km to La Paz. Through the mountains!

Summary: If a border crossing takes 10h it takes 10h. Hang loose… 🤙🏼

I had to change busses in Oruro. Imagine having a big hall full of vendors for food and tickets. Every vendor screams into the hall what they have to offer. No transperancy whatsoever what is offered and who goes where. After negotiating with one chico I bought a ticket for a bus which departed in 10′. I went into the bus and three minutes later another guy came into the bus telling us the bus would only leave in an hour now. “Why?” “Not full.” High performance revenue management system! He took my ticket, swapped it with the company next door and I went into another bus which left 2 minutes later. In total – 22h for 700km! Rock on 🤘🏼

It was great to be at the beach for a couple of days and to spent time with Momo, Jana and Fernando. But I can also fell the craving inside of me now to get moving again and to go back in the mountains. I miss them. And I also have to admit I miss time by myself. I can sense I just need time without interaction and space for thoughts to just wonder around.

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