Dakar Day 6: Blessed Relief – Iquique Rest Day

Jan 8, 2011 by     No Comments    Posted under: Activities, art, Discover, Motorcycle adventures

Woke to see largish waves cresting and smashing onto the shallow bank of Iquique beach outside my hotel window.  Made like a local and headed out for a run, a very popular activity in Chile.

Artistic expression is alive and well throughout Chile, and Iquique had some fantastic creativity.  Will and I opted to stay off the bikes today, and sought out advice on what a local would do on a weekend – beach and cruise the old town area was recommended – good for us!

Both Will and I had always enjoyed the creative expression of Buenos Aires, and many times so far had been impressed with some of the street art throughout Argentina and Chile, even in the most remote, forlorn or down-trodden places.  Artistry thrives in challenging conditions, and we found some great stuff on the fringes of Iquique.

Wandering the streets, not always sure of whether we should be there or not, we did find the old town area, on Calle Baquedano.  It was like walking on to an 1800s Western movie set.  The area had been created as a result of the massive nitrate boom around 160 years ago.  Colonial mansions in various stages of delapidation; burnt out houses; peeling paint and remnants of roofs; salt sculptures; wooden sidewalks.  We felt we were getting a real historical insight.  Chilling in one of the sidewalk cafes, under the shade of umbrellas, with a light ocean breeze, was simply fantastic.

Part 2 of our locals experience: the beach.  Unlike the beach outside our hotel, with its dumping waves, shallow sandbars and killer rips, the beach just around the corner was a virtual playground.  Still some surfable waves, but more protected, and clearly this is where people went to hang out on a weekend.  It was packed.  We had to experience the water, so a fun bodysurf was followed by lunch from an on the beach cart of dolce de leche filled pastries.  With all the weight stripping off us due to the riding and heat, there was no guilt whatsoever in pigging out.

If you are ever in Iquique, dinner at the El Viejo Clipper back on Calle Baquedano is recommended.  This night the place buzzed with Dakar racers and support crew, and plenty of locals and buskers alike cruising the plaza as the sun went down.  Michael joined us and told us the eventful story of his ride up to Arica today, one of wind, bad roads and rare gas stations.  We weren’t jealous.

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