Sunday, July 11, 2010

Arica and Tacna (now with pictures!)

So I am sitting at the bus station in Tacna, Peru and killing time before catching the bus to Arequipa.
Isabel missed her flight from Buenos Aires, so instead of arriving in Santiago at 12:50 she got on a flight arriving an hour later.  She got through security quickly, and it was so great to see her after all this time.  We snacked on salads as we took the shuttle bus to the Metro.  Then we stopped and got some lunch and watched Germany duke it out with Uraguay for 3rd place in the World Cup.  This is chuletas de cerdo a lo pobre:

After stopping at my place and hanging out for a few hours there, we turned right back around to head to the airport for our flight to Arica.  We were on a bit of a tighter schedule than I like to keep, so I was nervous about catching the shuttle bus and getting through security.  We left my apartment at 8:00 and got to the airport at 9:20, and the flight was at 10:30.  It seemed to take forever to check our bags, but finally we were through at 9:50. 

Before we took off, a woman named Nancy around our age turned around and asked us if we were volunteers with English Opens Doors.  We told her that we weren´t, but we got to talking and it turns out she´s an English teacher in Santiago.  When we told her of our travel plans, she offered to help us out with transportation to our hostel. We arrived in Arica at 1:15 in the morning, and Nancy introduced us to her mom and her dog (who picked us up) at the airport.  They dropped us off right to the hostel, and we were so grateful to have found such helpful people.

This was only the start of the adventure.  It turns out our hostel thought we were arriving at 2 in the afternoon and not 2 in the morning, and they were completely booked for their rooms.  After about 15 minutes, they offered us a bed in the dorm and told us they could put a matress on the ground, and since it was so late we agreed to it.  They felt really bad about it and didn´t even make us pay for the night, which was a pleasant surprise.

We got up around 7:30, and then it was off to the bus station to get a colectivo (a taxi that collects people until it is full) to cross the border into Peru.  I was concerened that we would face a long line, but there was no line at all.  They didn´t seem to concerned with security as we entered Peru, as the security guard that was scanning our bags as they went through the X ray machine was asleep from the time we put our bags on the conveyor belt to the time we left.  By the time we made it through to Tacna (the town closest to the border in Peru) it was 10:00.  And since it is an hour earlier there, it was actually 9:00.

We only had to catch our bus to Arequipa at 1:00, so we decided to store our luggage and explore the markets here.  I found a beautiful chess set for about 8 dollars that has Spanish and Incan figures instead of the regular chess figures, and Isabel got some finger puppets and other things.  It was cool seeing all of the different things on sale, but also a bit hard on the stomach seeing chickens and fish hanging upside down and being cut open right in front of us.  We algo got an early lunch that was really delicious.  I had some potatos with a creamy and slightly spicy sauce along with grilled chicken and some type of purple juice, and it only cost 3 bucks:

We made our way back to the bus station around 12:30, and we found out that our bus had been pushed back and was only going to depart at 5:00 instead of 1:00.  After considering our options of trying to take an earlier bus or taking the 5:00 bus, we decided to go with the 5:00 bus.  This gave us time to find a tour to take of the Colca Canyon in Arequipa (which is larger than the Grand Canyon) as well as let Isabel watch the final game of The World Cup.  (She´s a huge fan)

Despite the unexpected adventures the trip is going well.  I am just looking forward to getting in to our hostel tonight around 11 and being able to change clothes and shower.  Stay tuned for more adventures!

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