And so the crawl up through South America begins. A missed bus in Santiago was rewarded with a fun night out with crew from the Andes Hostel. 24 uncomfortable hours to Iquique. Kind’ve the Gold Coast of Chile. All high rises & casinos on the coast & slums out the back. Sadly the surf didn’t compare either with a selection of boogieboard wedges and slabs (complete with rampant hoards of juvenile boogs) about all on offer. After a couple of days and a snapped board for Pete we’d had enough & booked a ticket north to Arica. Final lesson before leaving – sea lions are freaking Gross!
The drive from Iquique to Arica is pretty spectacular with the bus dropping into and out of a series of massive flood-cut gorges – impressive considering the average yearly rainfall is less than 1mm! Arica itself is a great town, feels good, nice plazas and squares and the lookout from the Morros is spectacular.
But what makes Arica (from a surfers perspective) is the Chilean pipeline – El Gringo. This wave is a nasty, heaving, beast. Kind’ve like actual pipe but with no channel and a dry end section! Everyone gets hurt at some point. Pete snaps his next board first day. I opt out citing photo-duty, forgotten booties and onshore wind… The swell jacks up for Day 2 and its the pro-show with a couple of young brazilians & the local boogies charging. The only non-pro surfer to paddle out puts his head through the reef 1st wave resulting in a broken nose and 20 stitches…. We’re all a bit shaken by this & surfings done for the day. Check out some 9000 year old mummies and plan for the next trip north up into Peru – biggest swell of the season due next week and we know where we want to be for it…
But I have a real problem with shooting photos and not surfing a place (Ours and Deadmans excepted) so its back to Gringo for the last morning… Swells dropped a touch and is a bit more manageable but still scary as hell. In, few waves under the belt, out. Board and body unscathed. Result. Thanks Kurt and the crew at Arica Surf House – epic little spot. 24 hours to Lima.