I got a bus to Iquique. It was a great journey through the desert to Antofagasta, and then up the coast. A stunning moonrise over the Andes felt like a sign that this was a good direction to be heading in.
It was New Year's Eve, and I had a few things to sort out. I needed to buy a flight from Arica to Santiago, if I was going to make it up there and still get back in time for my flight home; I needed a new bag because mine was falling apart; and I needed an FC Iquique football top. I had a great Spanish day and accomplished all my tasks with a minimum of misunderstanding.
I went for a walk on the beach. I kept on getting into random conversations - someone from Santiago visiting the north for the first time, and enjoying the weather, a local who told me there would be fireworks later on, and a very, very drunk guy who was more or less totally incomprehensible. The vibe was good. I sat down in the sand to watch the sun set on 2009, and then went back to the hostel for a new year party.
2010 was a good few hours old before I got up to see what it was like. I hung out in the hostel for a while, brewing Turkish coffees. Eventually I got hungry, and headed out to see what was going on in town. Almost nothing was going on - the streets were deserted and the shops were shut, but eventually I found a shop that was open, and bought some food. Then I went to the beach, which was where everyone was. I wandered through the crowds and found a small patch of sand to sit down on.