I´ve liked pretty much everywhere I´ve been this trip (some more than others, of course) ... until now. I just arrived in Arica, Chile, this morning off an overnight semi-cama bus from San Pedro de Atacama this morning, so I´ve been here a grand total of about 8 hours now. And I can´t stand it!
It´s ugly, grimy, and grey, and the weather is overcast and chilly so I can´t even take advantage of the beaches nearby. It COULD be a nice city to hang out in for a while -- it´s got a great location on the Pacific coast, the climate is mild, and the pace is pretty laidback -- but it´s gone the tacky route for beach-front development and the results are not attractive. Streets are crowded and I was hassled innumerable times in a three-block stretch to buy something, give them money, hire them as guides, whatever. I´m already tired of it -- I actually ate in McDonald´s this afternoon (yes, I´m ashamed of myself) just because it was nearly empty and I could sit in peace and quiet.
I get out of here tomorrow, thank God. Had I been more awake when I arrived at the bus station this morning, I might have decided to press onward to Arequipa, Peru immediately instead of stopping here for a night -- I had no particular desire to come to Arica, it just happens to be on the way. But I was a zombie after that night bus ride and I wasn´t prepared to cope with border crossings in that state, so I opted to come into town, get a room (over-priced as it is, at least I have my own) and get some sleep before I cross into Peru.
There´s a train that goes at 9 a.m. to Tacna just over the border, so I think I´m going to do that -- I haven´t been able to take many trains this trip (I think the only one was the Tren de la Costa to the Tigre suburb of Buenos Aires) so it would be a pleasant way to go. Ticket sales open at 4 p.m. so I´m hoping they have some left for tomorrow morning´s train; otherwise it´s a collectivo across the border (sort of a shared taxi), or another night in Arica. You can guess which I´ll probably choose if it comes to that!
Wish me luck ... about 17 more hours to endure in this godforsaken town.