Sunny Days Hostel in Arica, Chile

Arica is the gateway to Chile… …no wait, the gateway to Peru! Or is it Bolivia? If you visit this northernmost Chilean city, chances are you are crossing Chile to/from Peru or Bolivia.

The Sunny Days Hostel in Arica is in a very convenient location to do just that, a short walk from the national and the international bus station.

But there is more to Arica than just being a transit layover. As the hostel name suggest, it almost never rains in Arica. On the other hand, it doesn’t get too hot in the “city of eternal spring”, even though it is situated at the edge of the Desierto de Atacama. Add 20km of beaches and nice waves and you’ve got yourself a surfer’s paradise.

No matter if you want to stay a night to catch the bus next morning or stay a month to catch the famous wave “El Gringo” each morning, Sunny Days welcomes you. Or rather Ross from New Zealand, the owner and host, welcomes you with a smile, a joke and a free all you can eat breakfast to his living room. Or is it the hostel’s living room? The distinction is blurred and doesn’t matter.

The living room

Spacious doesn’t cut it as a description for this living room and the huge communal area with public kitchen in the second house next door or the second fully equipped kitchen on the top floor or the rooftop terrace or the rooms themselves. Bring an elephant or two, if you like. They will hardly register.

Owner Ross is a wealth of information about things to do in and around Arica, having lived here for 12 years. He can also provide you with information about the nearby Parque Nacional Lauca. If you can’t make it all the way down south to Patagonia, Parque Lauca is supposed to be the next best thing for outdoor lovers visiting Chile.

The upper floor kitchen

Enjoy some sunny days in Sunny Days Arica.

Services:

  • Free breakfast (continental + cereals)
  • WiFi
  • Internet Computers
  • 2 fully equipped kitchens
  • Book exchange
  • Cable TV
  • Towels
  • Security Lockers
  • Travel Information
  • Luggage Storage
  • Free Car Parking
  • Beach gear
  • Mountain bike hire

Address: Tomas Aravena 161, Poblacion Chinchorro – Arica, Chile

Directions: 2 blocks from the bus terminal next to the fresh market

Phone: (056) 58 2241038

Email: info@sunny-days-arica.cl

Website: www.sunny-days-arica.cl

A sunny day on the rooftop of Sunny Days Arica

Prices:

  • 6 Bed Mixed Dorm – 9,000 Chilean Pesos
  • Double/Twin Room with shared bathroom – 11,000 Chilean Pesos
  • Double/Twin Room with private bathroom – 13,000 Chilean Pesos
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The Final Superlatives

We’re still working on a big, cleverly and intelligently written sum-up of the whole darn adventure.  It’s hard though!  It is coming soon, but for now enjoy the final edition of our La Aventura Project superlatives!

Days in South and Central America: 217

Dollars Spent: $10,586.14

Average Dollars per day: $70.45

Countries Visited: 10

Books Read: 22 (Carrie), lost track (Zach)

Doctor visits: 1 (Zach), 0 (Carrie)

Things We Lost: More random stuff than we remember

Favorite Food: ceviche (Zach), pupusas (Carrie)

Favorite Beverage: Colombian coffee, Campos de Solana vino tinto from Tarija, Bolivia, and Flor de Caña rum from Nicaragua

Best Wildlife Sighting: dolphins on the cruise from Panamá to Colombia

Nicest People: Colombians and Salvadorans

Most Touristy Countries: Perú and Guatemala

Most American Retirees: Panamá

Scariest/Coolest Experience: the eruption of Tungurahua Volcano

Most Liver Damage: Loki Hostel

Biggest Personal Changes: dreadlocks and eating meat (Carrie), actually speaking a second language (Zach)

Longest Bus Marathon: 3 days almost-straight, Trinidad, Bolivia to Arequipa, Perú

Best Hostel: Hostal Las Olas in Copacabana, Bolivia

Best Place to Open Our Bar Someday: Canoa, Ecuador

Most Sobering Site: civil war museum in Perquín, El Salvador

Most Life-Changing Moment: getting engaged

Sweatiest We’ve Ever Been in Our Lives: Nicaragua

Most Expensive Country/Most Fast Food Places: Costa Rica

Most Breeds of Potatoes: Perú

Best Shopping: Panajachel, Nicaragua

Creepiest Hotel: the Auto Hotel in Sonsonate, El Salvador

Favorite Country in Central America: El Salvador

Favorite Country Overall: Ecuador!!!!!!!!!!!!

2/3 Highlights!

So, due to our crazy schedule changes, we’re actually past the 2/3 mark on our trip :-(.  But, since we just left South America and are heading to Central, we figured now would be the most logical time to do our “Close-enough-to-2/3rds” superlatives!

Days in South America:  168

Dollars Spent (not including flight):

Countries Visited: 4

Books Read: 19 (Carrie), 12 (Zach)

Number of shirts left: 6 (Carrie), 3 (Zach)

Superlatives

Favorite Food: ceviche (Zach), llapingachos (Carrie)

Favorite Snack: corn/cheese pancake thingies from Ecuador

Favorite Beverage: Campos de Solana vino tinto from Tarija, Bolivia

Most Craved Food Currently: orange cheese (Carrie), sour cream (Zach)

Things We’re Most Excited For in USA:  friends, Netflix, cooking, baking (Carrie), telling stories to family and friends (Zach)

Most Annoying Phenomenon: staring people

Longest Bus Marathon: 3 days almost-straight, Trinidad, Bolivia to Arequipa, Perú

Favorite Activity: still The Inca Trail with The Southwest Circuit as a close second.

Nicest People: still Colombians

Favorite Big City: Lima, Perú

Favorite Small City: Cuzco, Perú

Dumpiest Town: Uyuni, Bolivia

Best Hostel: Hostal Las Olas in Copacabana, Bolivia

Best Place to Open Our Bar Someday: Canoa, Ecuador

Most Enjoyable Hike: Isla del Sol, Bolivia

Most Miserable Hike: Laguna Quilotoa, Ecuador

Most Controversial Post: Happy Birthday Blog

Worst Addiction: Fried chicken

Most Life-Changing Moment: getting engaged

Hottest Place: Colombian coast

Most Mosquitoes: Bolivian Amazon

Biggest Disappointment: Taganga, Colombia

Biggest Ripoff: Bus from Medellin to Santa Marta, Colombia during Easter week=130,000 COP ($70) per ticket

Still Our Favorite Country: Ecuador!!!!!!!  We love you!!!!

Goals for Central America

1. Not sweat to death!

2. Show Zach’s friend Steve a good time in Nicaragua!

3. Do more filming!

4. Improve our Spanish!

5. Make it home safely, and with a little bit of money left.

¡La musica de Sud America!

We haven’t yet talked about the new songs and artists we’ve been exposed to during our journey.  Truth be told, we’re not huge fans of most popular Latin American music since most of it is so dance-oriented and we like more mellow stuff.  But, there are still a few songs that we can’t help but love!  Here’s a sampling of what we hear every day…

First, the #1 song in most of South America right now.  We heard this multiple times EVERY DAY in every country, despite the fact that it’s actually a Brazilian Portuguese song!  But it is super catchy and fun to sing along to in bars, so it kind of grew on us…

Next, my favorite song.  It’s not played too much and when we looked up the video we realized that’s probably because it’s from the ’80s, by some Mexican singer.  But it’s still awesome.

A Colombian band we were introduced to by our Couchsurfing host in Medellin.  They have a really unique cumbia/rap style, and they apparently played at South by Southwest last year.  Takin’ over the world!

And another really popular Brazilian pop song.  It’s also super catchy.  Funny we learned so many Portuguese songs without even going to Brazil!

This is by no means an exhaustive summary.  We haven’t included any traditional indigenous music here; maybe we’ll write about that later.  But there you have it, a brief sampler of the songs that are going to stay stuck in our heads for a long time!

Border Crossing at La Balza

After an overnight bus from Lima to Chiclayo, we waited around for a few hours and got on the 1:30pm bus to Jaen.  The whole point of our taking this maddening route was so we could pass through Vilcabamba, Ecuador and check out this so-called “valley of longevity” where all the people supposedly live to be like 300 years old.  But anyhow, we arrived in Jaen just after dark, a dirty and dusty town full of mototaxis.   We jumped in one and told him to take us to the place where the buses leave for San Ignacio, the town closest to the border where we planned to spend the night.  After negotiating a price, we zoomed down the dirt road,   pulled a U-turn and and said, “Here is a good hotel!”  Though our Spanish is not great, we swear that we use understandable words!  Sometimes people don’t even listen to what we are saying and just try to guess what we want.  This seemed to happen a lot in northern Perú both times we were there.  Maybe they just play their music way too loud!  So we re-explained ourselves and finally were dropped off where we wanted to be; a spot with shared taxis to take us the next two hours for 20 Soles each.  For the first hour the road was perfect, paved and smooth.  Then the farther away from nowhere we got, the bigger the pot holes became and eventually the road became a one-lane bumpy mess.  Nevertheless, it was a nice ride, with a cool breeze blowing through the windows and lightning flashing in the distance.  It was getting late when we got into San Ignacio, so we crossed the street to a dumpy-looking lodging and got a cheap room from an unfriendly receptionist and settled in to wake up early for the border crossing.
In the morning we asked about three different people and finally got a mototaxi to drop us off at the shared taxis to the border.  17 Soles each and five people in the cab, we headed down one of the worst roads yet.  The night before there had been hard rains and the road was a muddy mess with landslides and road crews slaving away with shovels.  I would have called the road “impassable” or “passable only with 4×4”, but our driver was a pro mudder and we only got stuck a couple of times.  After two hours or so we were dropped off in the tiny village of La Balza at a bridge labeled “International Boundary” and we hauled our gear through more mud and over to the immigration office.  It was hard to tell if the guy there was the border agent or not, but he stamped our passports and we walked across the bridge into Ecuador.  On the other side was a uniformed official chit-chatting with the locals.  He led us into his office and had us fill out the standard entrance form.  Both of these “border agents” seemed pretty surprised to have any work to do, leading us to wonder how many people ever cross the border at La Balza.  Our passports were soon stamped and, super hungry, we walked next door to the only place serving food.  While we were eating, the border agent came over and rejoined his local friends.  There were many local-looking people walking back and forth across the border; some he would yell at to come to his office, some just crossed; it was a very laid-back mess of confusion.  Really, all you would have to do to get across this border illegally is run really fast.  A very different experience than the United States border with our walls and hundreds of people in line.  At noon we got on an old old bus with open sides and benches running from side to side.  Really it was more like a truck pulling a trailer full of wooden benches.  The speaker system rocked and it was almost like a party bus.  For over an hour we bounced along with our heads almost hitting the ceiling on the worst potholes.  This ride strangely brought smiles to both of our faces.  The benefit of our open-sided vehicle was that at least we knew that we could jump out easily if we ever started careening out of control.  Once in the nearest town of Zumba, we were able to get right on a bus to Vilcabamaba and arrived, again, just after dark.  We were sore, tired, and grumpy, but a huge section of the continent had been conquered.  Now for a few days of slightly slower travel then one more hard stretch to the Caribbean coast!

Barranco: The Greenwich Village of Lima

Thanks to the awesome power of Couchsurfing, on our first day in Lima we met a friend, Jorge, who helped us a lot with some venue-searching we were doing for a youth orchestra from Zach’s hometown which is coming to Perú this summer.  Jorge lived in Barranco, and just from our first meeting in a coffee shop there, we could tell it was an awesome area.  We were able to find a free B&B in the neighborhood and moved in for our last few days in Lima.


Barranco is historically the poorer, bohemian neighborhood of Lima, although just like it’s NYC counterpart (Greenwich Village) it seems to me like it’s becoming more expensive and upscale then it probably used to be.  Still, it definitely has a multicultural vibe and relaxed, “enjoy life” atmosphere.  There’s an abundance of classic old cars parked on the streets, and the buildings are all colorfully painted or covered in cool graffiti-style murals.


The main plaza of Barranco is also just a few blocks away from Lima’s best surfing beaches.  Being the Bohemian barrio, Barranco also has the best nightlife in Lima, all week long.  We went to a salsa club with a live band on a Tuesday night, and the place was crowded with awesome dancers.  Our salsa is terrible but it was super fun just to watch the band and the dancers who make it look so easy.


After several days in Barranco, neither of us was ready to leave.  We decided to add it to the list of places we could potentially live someday.  But we have to see the rest of the world before we decide!

Random Cats

We randomly encountered this tiny park full of cats while strolling through Miraflores.  There were literally cats EVERYWHERE!

Cats on the ground.
Cats on the steps.
Cats under the bench.

And then we saw the sign…

"Prohibited to abandon cats in a public place"

So was this a former dumping ground for unwanted pets and the sign was just recently posted?  Or is everyone just blatantly ignoring it?  What is UP with this place?  Quite random and funny.