Tonight I go on a road trip with Chileans. We are driving to Iquique, a port city on the Pacific coast founded in the 16th Century. It is a city beloved by Chileans. They say it has the nicest beaches and the best nightlife of any city in the country. The people there, I’m also told, have a very happy disposition. The good weather has something to do with that.
Iquique, located west of the Atacama Desert, draws scores of visitors also because of its duty free zone, one of the largest in South America, almost one square mile of warehouse shopping. It also boasts great restaurants, bars and the aforementioned nightlife.
But Iquique is also a beach town. Surfer dudes abound. Quite a bit of activity in this city of more than 200,000 people, which was once part of Peru until Chile took it away in the late 1800s during the Pacific War that saw Bolivia and Peru allied against Chile. Chile proved militarily superior and took land and cities that belonged to both. For Peruvians especially, the war was an indignity because Iquique was home to many of their national heroes. Now, the city is firmly and unquestionably Chilean, even if Peruvians to this day still lament the loss.
Other than what I have been told, I’m not sure what I will find in Iquique. In my travels, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by places I didn’t think I would like and disappointed by others for which I had high expectations. I have a good feeling about Iquique. We’ll see.
No matter what, I will be spending my time there with Chilean friends I’ve made during my month in the country, and so that alone should make it enjoyable. Two of them actually live in Iquique. So seeing the city with them will be fantastic.
Pictures of hopefully a fantastic four-day weekend in Iquique – Monday is a national holiday – to come.