Arica Chile is the northernmost part of the country with about 150,000 residents. The area is famous for its mummies, agriculture and tours to Lago Chungara in the Andes. A week after I got back from Santiago Totón introduced me to the director of the local newspaper. He told me I could work at the newspaper as an intern for the rest of the summer! I was so impressed! It really confirmed to me that my Spanish improved so much! The entire interview was in Spanish and we had an hour-long conversation about my experience and everything else in between.
I covered a few stories with the local journalists and accompanied them to meetings with politicians and business people. I really enjoyed the placement as I got to meet the governor of the entire Parinacota district, the mayor and some policemen high up in the hierarchy.
Other than that, I was also a reporter for an American surfing magazine from the Arica Bodyboarding World Championship. The magazing was A-frame – I had never heard of it before but all the surfer guys knew about it. I wrote an email to them and the guy replied: “I would be stoked to read your article…” Well, I hope stoked doesn’t mean anything nasty!
The Bodyboarding Championship
Next day I went down to the beach and spoke to the organiser. He gave me a press pass and from then on I had a seat in the private area. I interviewed the two-times world champion Ben Player and the six-times world champion Guilherm Tamega. Watch the video below to see it for yourself! After the championship we all went to the club and got shitfaced which was a lot of fun!
About three weeks later I had to start packing my bags as it was time to leave. I was super sad as I had such a great time! On the way back and I did the same as coming down: took the taxi to Tacna then a night bus to Lima. Again, I spent the day in town, mostly in Miraflores and then in the evening I headed out to catch my American Airlines flight to Miami!
Luckily the flight got to Miami earlier than scheduled and I made a mad dash to catch an earlier connecting flight to Chicago. By then one of my friends from Missouri University moved to Chicago and we spent the next three days together. For the first night I stayed at the HI Hostel again then for the second night I stayed in Trevor’s flat.
We went for a huge walk along the lake shore and also took the train around the loop and into the suburbs up north. In the afternoon we went to the botanical garden which was absolutely massive with a huge glass house covering square meters of rainforest imitation!
Total Cost Of North And South American Trip
You might wonder how much this trip, from January to September, cost me? Less than £6,000! That included my accommodation in Columbia with the food, transportation, flights and trains across the US. Also the flight to Lima, the buses back and forth, rent in Arica and the road trip contributions for Pancho.
So if anything is holding you back from travelling, think twice! It is not a huge investment and it is totally worth the experience. Some of the things I did during this trip were unforgettable and I will probably never experience them again – but I have no regrets at all. In fact, I would have far more regrets if I hadn’t gone and stayed in cold and rainy Edinburgh! As it turned out 2008 was one of the wettest and coldest summers in the UK!
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