There’s not much to say about Arica. A town of about 200,000 people perched at the northern point of Atacama and a stone’s throw from the border with Peru the town is dusty, heaving with backpackers and trucks moving north or south. The one amazing thing about Arica however is the surfing.
Arica has been on the “must go” list since we met the Bensons back in November. Once Andy picked me up from the airport (and we established he’d work his way through all our supplies without replenishing any) we headed to the closest supermarket and then straight to our hostel. Owned by a Kiwi, Hostal Sunny Days was quiet and frequented by older (read more quiet, cleaner and dare I say more interesting) travellers. An early night’s sleep and then we are off to find Yoyo to surf.
Yoyo kept coming up in all our research about Arica; he’s a life-long pro surfer who lives for the break. Slightly eccentric, very friendly and with a plethora of helpful tips. His house overlooks a consistent left point break on which I sorted out my bottom turn and took multiple 100m rides. What followed was 5 days of twice-a-day surfing sessions on that magnificent break. Thanks to Insanity and P90X my paddling was way stronger than before. Thanks to Yoyo and Abraham who yelled at us either:
“you paddle it, you ride it” and/or
“my man / my lady, that’s your wave”
we enjoyed the biggest and longest rides of our surfing careers to date surfing alongside sea turtles (I might have stepped on a couple trying to walk out), pelicans, sea lions and an 8ft shark.
Not ready for El Gringo yet (Arica’s most famous break). We did get invited to ride La Mancha but MagicSeaweed gave it a one star rating and so we opted for a photo session. There’s more surfing to be had in Peru.