Come fly with me, let’s fly away…

9 Jan

… to llama land, where a one man band, will toot his flute for you.

Ok, so we didn’t see any llama’s, nor any solo flutists in Iquique, but we did take our first flight for 6 weeks – oh the luxury of popping up to northern Chile in 3 hours by plane, rather than on a bus for 24 hours. It was definitely something appreciated now, and perhaps taken for granted before – other ‘new’ luxury items include; there being space in the communal fridge for our grub, loo roll, the last clean pair of socks when all hope was gone and most of all…. hot water (Dad – imagine the savings at Brambles if switched to once / week) might almost be enough to replace the wine glasses we seem to get through.

Leaving the airport it seems we have landed on Mars, red dirt, on which nothing grows, follows us for the 40 kilometers into Iquique – a town which, by any description, is most unusual; imagine a Benidorm beachfront (that said with a crocodile enclosure, obviously), in Namibia,  where the old town has wildwest wooden sidewalks fronting grand Spanish / Moorish colonial mansions. Truly, a place like no other, and a bit more like it.

After a stroll along the beachfront and a long pause at the crocodile enclosure – not to worry though, the occupants are secured safely away from the boardwalking kids with 2mm picture glass and whose lack of movement results in a long pause to decide whether they’re real or fake…

…turns out their real, we eventually find a bar and rehydrate before retiring at our hostel.

Waking up on day 2 I’m itchy, irritable and full of malaria (ok, so it may have been a cold). Feet dragging, we trudge for half a day round the duty free shopping centre in search of replacement shoes for Kelly and sunnies for me – alas we find little more than trinkets and tea-towels (imagine the duty free saving). The shopping gods are definitely not smiling.

We taxi back to town, grab our towels and head for a swim in the ocean…

Later we pick up a roast chicken, some salad, spend as little time as possible in the hostel’s grubby kitchen before retiring early.

Over breakfast the next day Kelly says she woke up in the night (nothing unusual there), felt a bug crawling on her face (nothing unusual there) and with the light on squished it (nothing unusual there) however was surprised, when it popped that it was full of blood (something not right here). I instantly feel itchier, and as her words hang in the air, the laptop is on and the culprit is identified as being a bed bug (the squeamish should look away now…)

Urgh, we’re out of here.

We agree to source alternate accommodation… quickly found on the same street, a hotel – remember those? – which is to be our first of the trip. With our hostel money refunded we’re cashed up, so decide to splurge a little with Iquique’s signature activity, paragliding, from the towering hills behind the city.

Kelly receives a full briefing from her English speaking pilot…

…I receive 2 words from my Chilean – ‘keep running’. Launching into the wind towards the ocean, the sail is to lift and we’re to run towards the horizon, and not to stop until told to do. This, mind, is after a somewhat hesitant start by Kelly (gusty wind which dropped = Kelly sat down during takeoff)…

Thus I now find myself airborne, with legs pumping, like wile e coyote running off a cliff – the wind drops, we drop, feet hit the dirt. I ‘keep running’ and then we’re aloft again, weightless, breathless and I’m suddenly speechless, all in about 5 seconds.

In time I recover to ask the guide and pilot ‘how it’s going?’, my interest in our progress borne from his absolute preoccupation in getting the inflight digital camera to work – after 25 attempts, much beeping from said device and now, as a consequence, somewhat of a neglect of any real piloting, I’m reading car registrations heading up the hilltop coast road… was I supposed to be the one steering?

Eventually he resigns himself to forgetting about the camera and we both begin to enjoy the flight. We work our way along the escarpment ascending all the while – the general idea being to gain enough altitude in order to make it over suburbia so as not to land in Bunning’s car park. We do, and a birds eye view is had of the intriguing city – we swoop over sand dunes then the crashing surf, pull back over the mainland, glide between a couple of lamposts and, as instructed, ‘keep running’ until with a couple of steps we’re down on the city’s main beach between bemused, beach going families.

Photos from Kelly’s camera, hers actually had a memory chip inserted.

Removing ourselves from the landing zone / kiddies beach Kelly & I stroll leisurely towards the hotel – it’s midday and our bus to San Pedro de Atacama doesn’t leave for another 11 and a half hours. We have time to kill, so though we’re checked out, decide to avail ourselves of the poolside with bottleshop bought beer, and supermarket sourced snacks, whilst our hand washed laundry dries around us – perfect guests we are not.

Three becomes five, turns into seven and eventually nine o’clock rolls around. We taxi into town to eat out, rounding off our meal with a healthy dose of wine, just to take the edge off the overnight bus to the Atacama desert…

That’s all folks.

Cheers for now,

Matt x

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4 Responses to “Come fly with me, let’s fly away…”

  1. Mr Teale January 26, 2012 at 2:40 am #

    Have a shave you can’t grow a beard!

  2. Mr Teale January 26, 2012 at 2:41 am #

    And that goes for you too Matty

  3. wendy January 27, 2012 at 12:19 am #

    All I can say is your both not afraid of heights then! Amazing views but takes guts to do it!

  4. wendy January 27, 2012 at 12:21 am #

    Just looked at the photos wish I was there with the coffe it looks amazing the photos are great!

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