With back-to-back holidays on Monday and Tuesday of last week, our family decided to venture north to Arica with our friend, Francisca. It was her first visit to the northernmost city in Chile and only the second visit for our older three kids. Our original intent was to briefly cross the border to renew the younger boys' visas but unfortunately a last-minute change of plans and an uninvited stomach bug kept us from doing so (which means there will be at least one more Arica trip in our future prior to leaving in January!)
Another unexpected wrench in the works was our larger vehicle still being in the mechanic's shop. Our last out-of-town visit, a trip planned to Pisagua while my parents were visiting last month, was cut short by the Kia minivan overheating just half an hour into our journey. We'd hoped to have it back in time for the Arica trip since it seats nine passengers comfortably and has air conditioning. Alas, it was not to be and so we somehow squeezed eight passengers into our seven-passenger Toyota station wagon instead!
Did I mention that the station wagon does not have air conditioning? And that the trip to Arica is a four- to five-hour journey through the desert?? Needless to say, the windows stayed down for the entire drive - much to the chagrin of our children who were anticipating the use of a new-to-us set of personal dvd players. The noise from the wind made it nearly impossible to hear, and despite their pleas and complaints of being "cold" Mommy and Daddy were not about to budge and close the windows on that long, hot and dusty drive!
It was no easy task to find lodging for eight people on a holiday weekend, but the kids were absolutely delighted with the four-bedroom apartment we rented right on Playa Chinchorro. It was very spacious and overlooked both the ocean and the swimming pool. We had to talk the crew down from plunging right into the pool upon arrival on Sunday evening because with the setting of the sun the temperature had really dropped. But first thing Monday morning they were ready to dive in!
We have the pool to thank for many hours of family fun. The water was icy cold but enjoyable after the first breathless immersion. The cheesy grins say it all!
After the pool, the next priority on our kids' minds was a chance to drive the two-person bicycle carriages they had seen on the sidewalk behind our apartment building (the tall rust and yellow pictured below.)
Eva, Isabel and Francisca took turns maneuvering precariously down the sidewalk, attempting to avoid pedestrians and minor flooding along the way. I teased them that I'll be very wary of their acquiring driver's licenses after this! :)
three grinning girls - Eva, Isabel, Francisca
This long stretch of beach called Playa Chinchorro is really pretty impressive, as it offers everything from playground equipment to workout equipment. While the boys were happy with a soccer ball on the beach, our girls decided to try a little exercise. In true female fashion, there were some ruffled feathers at one point but soon the three girls were grinning once again!
Our family getaway was over too quickly, but school and duty called us home. Along the long stretch of highway we stopped for fresh-squeezed fruit juices from a roadside vendor. Pineapple juice and mango juice revived us for the final miles of our journey. We arrived back in Iquique warm and weary, but thankful for the opportunity to make some new memories as a family and with our friend!