What 24+ Hours of Travel Looks Like
After San Pedro, we were headed to Puno, Peru, which would take about 18 hours if you could drive straight there. But it took us over 24. And why is that? Border crossing, bus schedules, and lies. Or, “the story of Peru.” Basically, there is no direct route, and so we wound up passing a few hours in Tacna, the first town after you cross the Chile-Peru border.
We left San Pedro at about 8:30 at night and arrived in Arica, Chile at about 5am. Then we waited for the border-crossing to open at 8, while I talked to an old French guy about his various lovers spread throughout Europe. Anything was better than being ignored by B & J, I figured, and plus I got to practice my (rustier-than-I’d-thought) French.
Once the border crossing opened up, we took a 5-minute bus from Arica to the border, where we got off and went through various lines and inspections. (Fun fact: my lime didn’t make it through but Josh’s orange did). Then we got back on the bus and drove another 5 minutes or so to Tacna, where we spent the morning walking around, eating, and buying snacks in the market for our forth-coming bus ride to Puno.
Brett and Josh pointed out that the market in this little border town (which Lonely Planet doesn’t seem to think very much of) was nicer than any market in Asuncion, the Paraguayan capital. It wasn’t a bad place to spend a few hours, and we met some nice people at the tourist agency (our first) who basically made our trip to Puno/Lake Titicaca possible.
From here, the bus ride was supposed to be only 5 hours, but we didn’t arrive in Puno until long after dark–tired, cold, and hungry. It was on this bus ride that I resorted to ripping blank pages out of the book I was reading (Committed, by Elizabeth Gilbert) to blow my nose.
Which is equal parts sad and resourceful.