Due to our own indirection and mistakes, we had a bit of a difficult time finding dog-friendly B3 Backpacker Hostel in Iquique, Chile. Fortunately, we found ourselves in the delightfully warm-weather-pocket of northern Chile that reminded us of San Diego, so getting lost wasn’t all that frustrating, after all.
A Sunday afternoon, it seemed that all of Iquique took to the waterfront to cycle, run, surf, walk their dog (on a leash!), or sunbathe. We discovered the long pedestrian-only street that led to cafés and restaurants.
We biked back and forth along the waterfront so many times, that we made a friend.
On our third bike-by our new friend offered to lead us to the hostel, once we told him where it was (we were incorrect, again). Finally, on our fourth attempt, we found ourselves outside the gate of B3 Hostel.
Negra, a beautiful shepherd mix with Caribbean Sea-colored blue eyes greeted us with a wagging tail through the small square hole of the gated entrance. Unlike most dogs we had encountered in Chile, Negra didn’t make a peep when we intruded upon her territory.
“Bark!” we ordered!
She did not.
We eventually found a phone number and called the owners, informing them we were outside.
Located just a few hundred meters of the waterfront bike path that snakes through Iquique, B3 Backpackers sits towards the end of a road lined with bars and restaurants. A short 10-minute walk away lies a shopping complex with a Jumbo, one of Chile’s largest supermarkets, a laundromat, banks, and a bevy of other stores. An even shorter walk takes you to the main waterfront, which we had gotten to know fairly after our fantastic voyage.
Juan and Alicia came to the door and welcomed us with warm smiles, plenty of questions about our journey and even more coddles over Sora. We left our bikes on the secured front patio and went on a tour of the hostel.
First stop: the two ferrets, Banana and Papaya and the golden retriever-mix puppies, Pepa and Pepo. Months earlier, Juan and Alicia found the litter of seven days-old puppies, abandoned on the road and couldn’t leave without rescuing a couple. Negra was also a rescue from the street.
When Juan and Alicia purchased the home that was to become B3 Backpackers in November 2015, Alicia told me that when they walked in, they were instantly covered in fleas, the floor upstairs had been replaced over moldy flooring four times over, and squatters had taken residence and trashed the place.
A labor of love, Juan and Alicia would spend the next six months stripping and scrubbing the floors and walls and transforming the house into a livable space for both them and their guests.
With the intention of reusing and repurposing as much material as possible, all of the furniture – from the chairs to beds to the front desk is constructed from pallets. Themed magazine pages cover the doors to each of the three bedrooms and newspaper acts as wallpaper lining the stairs.
In the bright living room, Alicia has begun the process of lining the ceiling in circular wood pieces to give the room an organic feel and a repurposed wrought iron gate acts as a divider between the reception desk and living room. The ottomans and coffee table are made from recycled tires and fabrics, which guests can use as they play on the Play Station or watch a movie on Netflix from the seat of the pallet chairs.
Former restaurant owners, the kitchen boasts a large professional range and plenty of tools and dishes, which I made full use of to prepare all of our meals and even bake cupcakes one evening.
With the majority of the heavy lifting complete, though still a work in progress, the couple elected to open during the off-season while continuing improvements in areas like the bathrooms and décor and the work never imposed on our comfort.
With ambitions to rent out the back patio to accommodate a pub in the future, Juan and Alicia hope the pub and hostel combo becomes lucrative enough that they too can become world travelers like Dave, Sora, and me. We shared many deep conversations about our displeasure for the life society dictates we have in order to deem ourselves a “success.”
Juan and Alicia treated all three of us like family from the beginning. As our stay happened to coincide with Alicia’s birthday, she invited us to eat cake and pizza with her family and made us her favorite meal for lunch, a sort of crepe lasagna with Swiss chard and melted cheese.
To accommodate our vegan diet, she made the pizza without cheese and used soy milk, a flax egg, and vegan cheese (found at Jumbo!) for our version of her favorite dish. She loved the vegan version and the idea of a flax egg, and kept the recipe in her bank for future use.
Our room was a simple double bed with a table located in the center of the upstairs. The dormitory next door could sleep eight and opened to a long patio overlooking the street. During busy months, the room could likely be a bit noisy due to the bar scene outside, but since we didn’t sleep in there, we can’t say for sure.
For a dog-friendly stay with welcoming hosts and close access to the beach, check out B3 Backpackers in Iquique.
Thank you Juan and Alicia for your hospitality! As always, all opinions are our own and we wouldn’t tell you to go somewhere if we didn’t approve.