Location: Arica, Chile -> Tacna -> Arequipa, Peru
Ladies and gentlemen, I have reached the last South American country of this trip (unless some millionaire decides to whisk me off to Bolivia/ Ecuador/ French Guiana/ Colombia.) I am now in Peru, the land of Machu Picchu and cerviche.
Before we all head out for a Pisco Sour, let me recount my 11-hour journey from my hostel in Arica, Chile to my homestay house in Arequipa, Peru. This trip involved a lot of deserts and not so much desserts.
My Arequipa language school advised me to reach Arequipa between 5pm and 8pm. I did a bit of calculations on a paper napkin and concluded that leaving the hostel at 11am should be OK.
What I didn’t realize was that the distance between Arica and Tacna was really really far. It took about 1 hour 30 minutes for me to get there from Arica’s terminal.
I took one of the shared taxis (collectivo) to Tacna. The front seat was modified to fit two slim people and the driver. However, my big butt ended p in the front seat with a slim Peruvian girl while the back seat held three other people.
From Arica to Peru’s border, the taxi played greatest hits from Backstreet Boys. I sang along softly to songs such as “I want it that way”, “Larger than life”, “Show me the meaning of being lonely” while I watched the desert fly by.
In the desert, the sun seemed to shine extra strongly. I had my sunglasses on but the rest of my face was still affected by the rays.
After a long while, we finally reached Chile’s border. Everyone got out the car and showed themselves to the custom officer.
Then we got on the car and drove about 2km to Peru’s side of the border. Here, we took our bags out (I had 4!) and went through customs and X-ray machines.
I was given 30 days in Peru which is just right since I’m leaving on August 4.
Then we got on the car again and drove for a long long long time before we reached Tacna. I dragged all my belongings with me and changed my Chilean pesos into Peruvian soles. My 20,000 pesos turned into a 100 soles note and a few coins which depressed me a little.
I dragged everything to the national terminal just outside of the international terminal. I found the booth for Flores and bought a 25 soles (S$12.50) bus ticket to Arequipa. Everything was just too easy.
After I finished buying the ticket, I was approached by 3 Peruvian girls, who asked if they could interview me for a school project.
At first I was worried that they were a pickpocket gang. Then I remembered that I can’t even reach my important stuff so how could they?
One of the girls pointed a phone camera at me as I sat through several Spanish questions about how I find Peru, where I was heading to, what we language we speak in Malaysia and what sort of dance we do.
In the end, I was asked to say a few words in my language. I did a very awkward Chinese monologue about how I just reached Peru and Thank You Very Much.
This was all very strange.
I eventually got on my bus and sat there for the next 6 hours or so. I napped a lot as it was too hot to admire the scenery. I did take some photos for you.
The sun set completely at about 6pm. While the bus wound through the curvy mountain road, I saw stars for maybe the first time in South America. I couldn’t tell if they were satellites or stars but the sky was beautiful.
The bus reached Arequiapa at about 7:15pm. I followed the school’s instructions and waited for a cab to drive into the terminal compound instead of catching one outside.
I was ushered into a car with three other ladies who were squashed in the backseat. I believe I was charged the Foreigner price so I could sit comfortably in front.
When we reached the home stay place, te cab waited for me while I rang the bell. The host mother came out and I grabbed my bags.
So I’ll be staying with Srna G and her two late-teens for the week. Stay tuned for more home stay fun!