Paul, whom I had met in San Pedro, kindly offered me free accommodation, and the unlimited use of hot water, kitchen facility etc. in his flat in Antofagasta - until I have figured out where I would go next. Though his bus was leaving in the afternoon, and I was leaving first thing in the morning with Sebastian, he trusted his key to his old friend.
Upon arrival at Antofagasta - a port town, we quickly asked at a couple of bus companies for the situation on crossing to Salta, Argentina. No luck - road was blocked, and they didn't know when it would be passable again. Then we jumped into a taxi to Paul's flat - which Sebastian thought was pretty amusing for a vegetarian to stay above a butcher's - even if two levels up. He helped me settle down, before heading out for lunch. As usual, my dietary requirements made the search somewhat more complicated, and even a native Chilean was flabbergasted at the simplicity of the restuarant staff - "People up in the north are very different," he explained. Well, found out that Sebastian was actually from Santiago, and not Antofagasta, as I had thought. He was here for a meeting, and then would be on his way back home.
Basically the next few days were pretty uneventful. As Paul had to work most of the day, I was pretty free to do whatever I wanted. Got all my clothes washed and smelling lovely (and ruining my new woollen hat, as not used to washing my own stuff anymore!), organised my photos, and tried to catch up with my diary as much as possible. As cable TV was installed, even managed to have a daily dosage of "Friends", "Joey", "ER", etc. Oh, how I loved those days in Costa Rica watching Warner Bros channel at Miriam's house!!
When I finally got round to leaving the TV, walked around the city of Antofagasta a little -not really much of interest, it's really just a port city with lots of shopping centres. I know my sister would love it, but I wondered whether it was really necessary to have so many shopping centres??? Have definitely seen enough in Antofagasta alone for each of the countries I have visited so far. Hmm, make that one centre per major city!! Did finally splash out on buying a memory card reader though, so you should be able to see my photos shortly after they are taken from now!
On Thursday, Paul invited me to his office for a view of the city. He works as a video editor for news reports in and around Antofagasta. The building is near the sea, and at fourteen stories, they could see when a fire breaks out in part of the city as well as providing some good views. The photos with this entries are basically some 360 degrees panoramic views of this port city. The city concerns itself with exporting refined copper sheets from the copper mines nearby. They are the largest open copper mines in the world, by the way.