little sarah Big World

Tag: San Pedro de Atacama

Tacna, Peru

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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.

San Pedro de Atacama

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Back to South America

Not literally, of course. Who knows when I’ll go back? Maybe never. I’ve fully submitted myself to the whims of chance. Mostly out of laziness, but still.

The point is, I will now be writing about my adventures in the past tense (and damn glad of it, but more on that later).

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When we last left off, I was on top of Macchu F***ing Pichu! What?! YES. And before that I was in La Serena. But we’ve skipped a part, Friends! Lots of parts, actually, so don’t get too set on more Macchu Pichu photos right this instant. You’ll have to wait for those. Patience, Friends.

Anyways, in addition to sunbathing and reading, Brett and I enjoyed other activities in La Serena. Namely, getting sick. Brett spent most of the time in La Serena sleeping and grumbling, while I went for runs and read outside and took photos. Then I woke up with a sore throat, the day that we left, and followed that with the most miserable overnight bus-ride of my life. Only to arrive in San Pedro de Atacama (pictured above), with aches and chills.

Let me tell you, the Chilean desert is not a great place to nurse a sore throat.

But there were kitties!

And there was an overpriced barbecue which I signed up for mainly for the 3 glasses of wine. Because drinking when I’m sick eases my symptoms, although Brett’s friend Josh unkindly informed me that it’s “really bad for you.” Whatever. He also said that your lymph nodes under your neck are tonsils, so…

The hostel we stayed at (pictured above) was actually not too bad a place to be sick–plenty of sunshine, hammocks, hot water for up to 3 minutes, etc. They organized all sorts of excursions and events, like the barbecue, and we met friendly and interesting people from all over the world–a Chilean astrophysicist/musician, an English couple who’d saved up for years and then quit their jobs to travel together for a year, some pleasant girls from Iceland…lots of stories there.

The astrophysicist was named Sebastian, and he gave me my first charango lesson then cancelled plans with his friends to have dinner with me. I wrote in my journal that I was pretty sure he was into me, but that I just wanted a change of company and a solid, vegan meal.

You see, it was in San Pedro that I began to seriously reconsider traveling with Brett and Josh. But that’s another story…

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To be continued!