Lynn & David travelling in South America travel blog

David at Cavancha Beach, Iquique, Chile

David at Cavancha Beach (with cerro in background), Iquique, Chile

David in the tsunami zone, Iquique, Chile

Main pedestrian street (Baquedano), Iquique, Chile

Main Square (Plaza Prat), Iquique, Chile

Geoglyph, near Iquique, Chile

Desert near Iquique, Chile

Santa Laura, Chile

Santa Laura, Chile

Santa Laura, Chile

Santa Laura, Chile

Santa Laura, Chile

Schoolroom at Humberstone, Chile

Swimming Pool, Humberstone, Chile

Main Square, Humberstone, Chile

Humberstone, Chile

Humberstone, Chile

Humberstone, Chile

Humberstone, Chile

Iquique Paragliding, Iquique, Chile

Dignified Landing?, Iquique Paragliding, Iquique, Chile

Done it, Iquique Paragliding, Iquique, Chile

Horses, Hnos. Fuentes Gasca, Iquique, Chile

Camels, Hnos. Fuentes Gasca, Iquique, Chile

Illusionist, Hnos. Fuentes Gasca, Iquique, Chile

Motorcycle "Circle of Death", Hnos. Fuentes Gasca, Iquique, Chile

Friday 18th July 2014

La Paz, Bolivia to Iquique, Chile

Up early to repack and weigh all of our luggage for the flight firstly down to Iquique in Chile then home next week. We are both choked up with colds and coughs and feel horrible. The altitude here in La Paz doesn't help either. Lots of people seem to be sick by the coughing and spluttering that you hear. We went down to breakfast and saw the awful news about the Malaysian Airlines plane being shot down by Russian separatists. We then packed up and went out to spend our last bit of Bolivian money. The day was fine and cool. We looked at all the stalls in the Witches Market and although they have some beautiful alpaca clothes, scarves, gloves, hats etc, we were pretty much shopped out so didn't buy much. We then ate a roll and a banana in a small park then went back to the hotel and got our taxi to El Alto, the international airport. Our driver was a total maniac, so much so that the traffic police stopped him for speeding about halfway up the road to the airport. He talked his way out of it (we suspect by mentioning us as having to get to the airport in a hurry - which wasn't true). We finally arrived safely and checked in and waited for our flight. Left at 5:45pm on time and we arrived in Iquique in Chile at about 6:45pm. After clearing immigration and having all our bags searched we caught a shuttle to our accommodation about 45kms south of the town. Iquique is quite a large town, mainly a beach resort in summer. We went out to the supermarket nearby and bought some supplies for our days here. Our apartment has a balcony with a view of the sea and is very comfortable. It has a lounge room with small attached kitchen, separate bedroom, and bathroom complete with bath and hot water. To bed about 10:30pm.

Saturday 19th July 2014

Iquique, Chile

Woke up to a fine day in Iquique (hasn't actually rained here for 450 years). Lynn was feeling a bit better today. David still felt quite crook. Had breakfast of coffee, eggs and toast then just sat around reading and relaxing till after lunch. David then had a sleep in the afternoon. Went for a little walk around the area and went to the supermarket to buy a couple of things we needed and also to get takeaway dinner. Came back to our room to eat dinner and sat around watching TV (English with Spanish sub titles). To bed fairly early tonight.

Sunday 20th July 2014

Iquique, Chile

Woke up late again. After breakfast, we decided to go for a walk to the town about 4km away. It was cool today, cooler than yesterday. When we in town, we booked a day trip for tomorrow to visit the nitrate ghost towns about 45km from Iquique. We looked in the museum which has some Chinchurro mummies and sat in the main square to a while. We then came back to our accommodation late in the afternoon. David, still not feeling well, had a sleep and then a late dinner of soup and to bed.

Monday 21st July 2014

Iquique, Chile

Up earlier today, had breakfast and packed a lunch and were picked up by Magical Tour Chile and our guide Mauricio at about 8:15am in the lobby. We headed up and out of Iquique over the high sand cliffs to the east and into the desert. Iquique is a very large city and up over the sand cliffs is another very large town called Alto Hospicio where people moved when the Chilean Government made Iquique and area a duty free zone. About 20km from Iquique are some geogliphs, ancient markers for the road etched into the sand hills from ancient times. All the ancient followed these. we have seen them in many places. The fact that it never rains here means that they never become any different. They are always markers from the mountains down to the coast. Extraordinary really! About another 20km inland at the junction of the Iquique road to the coast with the Pan American Highway are the sites we have come to visit, the ghost towns of Santa Laura and Santiago Humberstone, both towns that were built as part of the extraction of salt nitrate (saltpetre), an efficacious fertiliser used to assist in the growing of crops in many countries in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and used in the manufacture of fireworks and gunpowder. Chile was the largest producer of this product and in the early days of this mining operation, fought and won the Pacific Ocean War against Peru and Bolivia, winning both more territory and also control of the nitrate fields from the current Peruvian border down to Antofagasta, which is about 1500km from the current Peru border. Peru and Bolivia lost out in a big way in this war and so don't like Chile to this day. Anyway, we strolled around the ghost towns which are close together and are UNESCO World Heritage sites. Mining operations closed down in 1960 and everyone then left for other places. In Santa Laura, which is smaller and more compact, the buildings were mainly industrial and were very interesting and there were many reminders of tools etc that the workers in the mines used. In Humberstone, the buildings were in a much better state of repair - they weren't as old, there was even a swimming pool in the middle of the desert fed by underground water - it was iron and about 3 metres deep, 20 metres wide and about 40 metres long. Fascinating!. When Humberstone was built it was viewed as a model modern town and the houses all had internal bathrooms - previously unheard of for workers. Some restoration work is being done, no one lives there and it was interesting to see. Although not particularly mentioned in the guide books, our guide told us that at various times when these mines were operating, the miners became very upset about their conditions and for their troubles, in 1907, the Chilean Government troops shot 3,000 striking miners and then another 2,000 or more in 1925. There were also a few other massacres by troops of striking miners. There have been ongoing problems of this nature here - our guide told us that it was an important part of their history. After we had some lunch, we were driven back to our hotel where we sit now, having a beer with the sea in the background. Relaxed for the rest of the day and posted the blog. Had sardines on toast, from our supplies, for dinner and watched some television. To bed around midnight.

Tuesday 22nd July 2014

Iquique, Chile (last full day in South America)

Up late again today, after breakfast we walked into the town and Lynn enquired about doing paragliding and was advised that she could do it at 12:30pm today, so we filled in about 45 minutes and then went back to the flying office and Lynn was whisked away in a car. David was told by the guide where Lynn would land and it was on the beach back near our hotel, so he had to walk quickly back to get photos/videos of the landing. Lynn was very excited and more than a little scared about doing the flight but Iquique is famous for paragliding and Lynn has wanted to come and do it since seeing it as a challenge in an earlier American series of 'The Amazing Race'. They drove up the mountain road, through Alto Hospicio (the area of cheaper housing up on the mountain) and out to a sandy area on the edge of the drop-off. It didn't take long to set-up for the flight. Lynn was clothed in a zip-up suit and a crash helmet, buckled into the harness, clipped to Daniel the pilot (fingers crossed...) and given instructions. The wind was anxious to be part of the experience and within seconds Lynn and Daniel were running towards the edge and were off! They spent about 15 mins flying over the mountain and the road that zigzags down to Iquique, following the thermals. Daniel followed what the birds were doing and at one point the paraglider went up into a cloud and reached 700 metres! They just twirled back and forth and also used the heat from the high tension wires that created thermals. Eventually Daniel turned them towards the town below which they flew over at 30kms/hr soon reaching the Pacific Ocean. They flew out over the water and, even though they were still reasonably high, had no problems seeing 2 giant rays (a reddish brown colour) swimming in the water near the beach. They turned and flew back the length of Cavancha Beach which is the main Iquique beach before turning again and preparing to land on Playa Brava where Lynn could see David waiting. Although instructed to run when her feet touched the sand, Lynn managed to fall over on her back instead, so the landing wasn't very dignified but the whole experience had been amazing and fulfilled a dream Lynn had for a few years.

After a sandwich for a late lunch and a break, we walked back to the town and went to the airline office to ask about our excess luggage, then went to a very nice seafood restaurant for our final dinner in South America. We then walked back and had already decided to go to the circus that was playing just behind where we were staying. It was fun and entertaining, with acrobatics, motor cycles, horses, camels, a very funny clown, a small dog, a dwarf, and an illusionist. Great for kids - and us! After that we headed back to the hotel room for our last sleep before leaving here. Tomorrow is packing and travel day.

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