Back to South America part 1: Chile

In the end of August, I started to the next adventure: a six week trip to South America. I didn’t really plan out the whole journey ahead, in fact, I just booked a flight to Santiago de Chile and the return from Brasilia in advance. Everything in between was then kind of spontaneous.

Arriving in Santiago de Chile, I spend some days in the house of a befriended family, which I got to know 4 years ago during a trip in Peru. Coming from the German summer, I first needed to get used to the temperatures in Santiago. It was the only time during my journey, that I was happy to have brought my winter boots. I wouldn’t use them for the next 5 weeks of my trip.

A part of the time in Santiago I was still working on a consultancy I accepted some weeks ago: the translation of a toolkit about solar irrigation from English into Spanish. Exactly 2 weeks later, I saw my translated work on a training seminar in La Paz, but I will come to this.

Beside the translation work, I wandered around in Santiago, but I still don’t have this right connection to the city. So, I wasn’t too sad to leave after a few days direction north: to Arica!

Aricas Cost

I didn’t want to take flights within South America, to see a bit more of the country and really get a feeling for the distances. By the way, I think there is nothing more comfortable than Bus Trips (of course the bus should be somehow in a good condition): there is always something to see outside, the seats are very cushy and for the time being in the bus, letting your thoughts fly. Of course you should bring enough food with you 🙂

By that, a 28 hour bus ride from Santiago to Arica passed quite quickly. Arica is a wonderful

city. It was the third time I have been there, staying in the wonderful Sunny Day Hostal. I took some surfing lessons, went to the city with some other travellers and spend a good time in the small fishery harbour, observing the

Arica from above

fisherman doing their business. It is said, that the Chilean Spanish is one of the hardest to understand. I think it can only be topped by the Spanish of a Chilean fisherman. I met Ángelo, a middle aged fisher, who was cleaning some fish during we talked. I was always happy to understand a word here and there, but somehow we managed to understand each other, at least a bit.

I also met with Reinhold, a German engineer, who already lived a good part of his live in Arica. We were the trainers of a workshop on solar irrigation in November 2017 in Santiago de Chile. We drove around and visited some of the solar water systems, he installed in the region. Arica is surrounded by deserts and is with some of the lowest annual rainfall rates anywhere in the world, with only 0.76 mm / year (just as a comparison, in Stuttgart we got around 720 mm / year).

In the valleys around Arica, vegetable production is done the whole year. With two ‘minor’ problems:

  • the soils are very sandy and not of a good quality
  • there is no water
Fertilizer & water…

So, under high input of both, fertilizer and irrigation, the yields are very high, due to the perfect climatic situation. And while the German farmers had very high losses on their maize due to the drought, I wondered about the maize in Arica: The same day I saw freshly sprouting maize plants, very well-developed maize plants and plants shortly before harvest. Seasons doesn’t count in Arica.

As Arica is located very close to the Peruvian boarder, I went to Tacna, on the Peruvian site for a day trip and found, what I heard before. Countless doctors, dentists and good food. Chileans in the North tend to travel to Tacna for medical treatments, as it is way cheaper than in their country. My expectations of the train which circulates between Arica and Tacna weren’t completely fulfilled, as the train was more like a bus on rails, but anyhow it was a good experience.

Then, after a week in Arica it was time to go on. Bolivia was waiting. My Bolivia!


Ein Kommentar zu „Back to South America part 1: Chile

  1. Amazing! I love seeing South America through another’s eyes and yes the buses in Latin American countries are definitely a lot more comfortable than flying domestically. Great photos, I look forward to seeing more. Safe Travels!

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