We are in Chile

April 15, 2008  
Topics: Chile

When we got an idea that Katja’s 5 weeks bronchitis is caused by the pollution and contamination in Lima, we decided to escape this place as soon as possible. We bought night bus tickets to Arequipa (1030 km, 45 soles – 11€). Acting last minute in this city we tried to search for free accommodation online. One of HospitalityClub.org members said “you are welcome in my place.” Finally, when we arrived to Arequipa we got to know that her plans suddenly changed, she had urgently go to Lima and for this reason she send us to a “cheap” hostel – $5-$7 per night. Well, this we cannot afford. We also checked Hare Krishna community, but they require recommendation from other temple. Actually Arequipa looks cosy and pretty, but we were forced to leave it us to search for a free accommodation was too late. The night bus to Tacna town near Chilean border was the same $5 so we decided for this investment. Early morning from Tacna we got into another bus to Arica, already in Chile. From here we continued our trip by hitch-hiking and the same day (Friday) we arrived to Iquique (330 km from the border).

The first two nights in Iquique we stayed with Jamir, who works in the infantry of Chilean army. Every day from Monday to Friday he walks through the deserts and searches for the illegal Bolivians. When he comes home, hours and hours he spends playing GameCube games. Most of them are about transformers. 35 years old Jamir is a transformers fan for more than 20 years. On the weekends he relaxes watching animated and other movies of transformers or sorting out his collection of these figures. Even his T-shirt is about the same – transformers. Jamir’s plan is to work for the army another 8 years (total 20 years) and then get military pension and go traveling.

our place to stay in Playa Blanca, 10km outside of Iquique

our place to stay in Playa Blanca, 10km outside of Iquique

After two days we had to change the place to stay, as Jamir’s family had a cat and Katja has very strong allergy to them. Now we stay in Jose’s small house 15 km south from Iquique on the calm beach called Playa Blanca. Ok, it is not expected to be calm all the time. Jose warned us that earthquakes do sometimes occur. We should not worry much about this, but just in case it is super urgent case – when the things are falling and the windows cracking – he showed us some trees up the sandy mountain where we should run and stay. He means the case which have never occurred in the last 100 years – strong earthquake provoking flooding of the sea. Such disaster would be not normal, however Global Warming in our days changes everything.

Couple of things, which we could not miss in Chile:

The Desert!

We are not traveling with lonely planet bible so to find out that the Northern part of Chile is pure desert – was a surprise. Locals claim this desert is much bigger than Sahara. This lasts for 1000 kilometres from the border.

IMG_0381 IMG_0378 IMG_0376 IMG_0369

Regions in Roman numbers
The country is divided into 13-15 regions. Besides that all of them have proper names, most of the time they are referred by numbers. On the maps and road signs most of the time regions are identified by Roman numbers (region VII, region II, etc).
– Which city you are coming from?
– From Temuco
– Where is it?
– In the 9th region.

Actually, this numeration is rather logical as the numbering is increasing by one once you travel from North to the South. Well, the most northern region recently was baptised as XV, because government decided to split region I into two units.

It is one of the things we still need to get used to. After staying 3 months in Peru, costs in Chile seems to be very high. Another thing we have to learn – currency rate of pesos. One dollar in Peru was 2.7 soles, here the same dollar is valued to 435 pesos. This rate is very similar to Costa Rican colon, where 1 dollar was about 500 colones. Now seeing the prices in Chile we are converting this number to Peruvian soles (as we have feeling for them) and to dollars. Double convertion is a bit tiring for the mind, but in couple of weeks we should be able to start orientating directly in Chilean pesos.

Here are few prices from Chile. City bus costs about 370-450 pesos (0.60€). Fruits and vegetables – 2-3 times more expensive than in Peru:
Bananas 0.45-0.80 €/kg (Peru-Lima 0.20€)
Tomatoes 0.85 €/kg (Peru-Lima 0.45€)
Apples 0.85 €/kg (Peru-Lima 0.35€)
Bread 1.15 €/kg
Carrots 0.70 €/kg
Potatoes 0.45 €/kg (Peru-Lima 0.20 €)
We hope that going more South prices will get slightly smaller, as now we are in the deserted area, and fresh food here sometimes travels thousands of kilometers.


  1. Tomas says:

    Chicos, chicos….
    I hope you are doing well in Chile. Bloody expensive, isn’t it? Anyway, both me and Justyna hope you will like it there!
    I like your website, it’s getting nicer and nicer each time I get here!
    Kisses from Central Europe, Tomas and Justyna (your friends from Cuenca, Ecuador).

  2. dr. oscar alarico zeballo says:

    hola amigos soy oscar el doctor de angoteros en el rio napo tuve poblemas con mi antiguo correo tuve q cambiarlo por este nuevo napoquerido77@hotmail.com, espero q esten bien saludos a ambos.