The weather was kind to us again – it wasn't long and we
were northbound along the most magnificent coast.
The flight was mind blowing – the desert is amazing
in it's desolation, and beauty. What a great flight – we both felt that this was our best thus far on this trip. As we approached Iquique we decided that what we would do is refuel, eat something and be on our way
again as quickly as we could.
The Air traffic controller told us we were number 2
to land behind a jet fighter but before a Boeing 737. The airfield is in the middle of the desert, 50 km from the city. There is absolutely no vegetation at all around the airfield. As in many deserts like this, the
air is almost always full of dust and so the sky is never blue (except if you look straight up) – it's a kind of hazy light grey colour.
By 3pm our trikes were climbing again for clear sky.
The desert passed slowly beneath us.
At least 25% of the time we had absolutely no landing
place in the event of an emergency landing as the desert plateau often drops almost vertically from anything between 2,000 and 6,000 ft straight into the very cold Pacific.
The wind dropped and the turbulence reduced, so we
wandered about 10km inland and flew very close to the hills and rocky outcrops. I sat in the trike, comfortable and warm and watched Olivier as he meandered around the sky close to me taking photos of the amazing
scenery that seemed to be from another planet.
Up ahead Arica and food beckoned. We reduced height
and flew low level over the harbour and the shorefront. The town is well laid out and colourful – there are some green parks in the centre and shops and restaurants on the shorefronts.
By 8pm we had tied our trikes down and were checked
into Hotel Madrid in the centre of town. The hotel is very cheap – you must provide your own towels and toilet paper. But it's clean!
The town is warm and colourful, with Salsa music
coming out of lots of bars. When we left the hotel to find some food, some horrible looking prostitutes whistled at us.
I have never seen a town with so many taxis in one
place at once. At first I thought it was a taxi rally or similar!! Food was chicken. Good, and cheap too!