Arica is Chile's northernmost city, almost touching the nation's Peruvian border. It's quite a big place, although not the most exciting city in the world. Bit of a funny mix between Chilean orderliness, and Peruvian chaos. Spent a bit of time here in transit, on my way north to Arequipa in Peru.
Maria (known as "Meli") is a lady who lived in Sydney for quite a number of years, and who worked (as a nurse) taking care of my mother's partner's father a few years back. She's now returned to her home of Arica, Chile, where she's living with a crazy Pommy ex-pat called Phillip, and his family, and where she's retired. Today, I dragged Chris along for a Sunday lunch with these people, and we had a great day of eating, chatting, and hanging out.
When we arrived in Sunny Days hostel this evening, Chris and I decided to immediately take advantage of the great kitchen on offer there, and to cook something up for dinner. Somehow, when we actually started cooking, I ended up being in charge of it. We ended up with a weird kind of risotto slash omelette slash stir-fry thing, of fried rice, fried chicken, fried egg, and fried carrot and onion. All fried together. Looked like prison food. Smelled a bit burnt. But tasted good: at least, I thought so! Anyway, we're still in Chile, so at least the ingredients didn't give me food poisoning.
This place is one of the best hostels I've been to, so far on my trip. Definitely up there with Amigo, as a contender for numero uno in my good hostels book. At the moment, the owners are away, and it's being run by a super-friendly 6-foot-tall Kiwi guy, and his German girlfriend. These two are bending over backwards for their guests 24/7, offering us free food constantly (way above and beyond the complementary breakfast, which alone is the most gawdamn outstanding brekky I've seen this side of the Pacific), providing little luxuries everywhere (like soap, hand towels, and free local phone calls), and hanging out with the guests each night, and entertaining us with their lively company. And it's not in Lonely Planet yet, so just be sure to remember it!