View from the hill!

View from the hill!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Better Than Crossing The Void!

While traveling I have been reading The Best American Travel Writing series (borrowed from one of the hostels along the way) and one of the stories in the book is entitled "Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Void." This story, about the 154,440 square miles of lifeless nothingness at the center of the Saharaha which covers half of Niger and some of Algeria, Libya and Chad, has made me look at my own land traveling journeys and re-evaluate my standards of comfort. Pilled in trucks with hundreds of others, everyday people die trying to cross the sea of sand which is freezing at night and over 100 degrees during the day. Suddenly after reading about crossing the void my 24 hour trip to Cuzco, Peru does not sound nearly as bad.

I left the Arica Surf House early in the morning to head to the train station. There was supposed to be a train at 9am to Tacna, Peru and I had read this was the easiest way to cross the border. However, when the taxi dropped me at the train station the gates were locked and not a soul was in sight. After jumping into another taxi I asked to be taken to the bus station, I would have to go with the shared taxi route to the border. After arriving at the bus terminal I was bombarded with offers to take me to Peru. Of course I could not understand any of them but was attempting to negotiate the price. A nice lady quickly came over and dragged me to her car which was jam packed with one empty seat. The Ford Tarus¨ get to leave when they are full so she wanted me to fill her last available seat.

I handed over my passport (not quite sure what she was going to do with it or when i would see it again) and was on my way. For the next hour me and the 7 other people in the Tarus would listen to a radio station that was about 70% static and 30% music. When we arrived at the border we were directed to file out of the car and through the immigration process to get our Chile exit stamps. Then after another short drive we went through the process again to get our Peru entrance stamps. 2 hours later, once finally arriving at the bus station in Tacna I had to change money in order to pay the nice lady that had just transported me. I am quite certain that I get extremly ripped off, but I got there safely and that is really all I cared about at that moment. Once at the bus station I found a bus direct to Cuzco (yay! originally I thought I would have to go through Puno or another town in Peru and stay for the night but a 19 hour bus ride straight there was much more appealing then breaking this journey up into 2 painful days) I just had to wait 5 hours to board my bus. At this point in the trip a 5 hour wait is nothing!!

I passed the time in the bus station thinking about what a great time I had in Arica. Looking back, the town actually really sucked. The fact that the beach was a 30 minute plus walk in the sun did not make Arica any better. But yet I still had the most fun here which proves that yopur company can really make or break an expereince...luckily I found great company to share 4 days in Arica with. On the last night I changed up the sunset routine and went down to the beach to watch the boys surf. I got to see El Gringo and some other famous breaks in person and a seal (or was it a walrus?) came to watch the action as well. I made a big bowl of guacamole and Jeff (the NY surfer) and I watched as the sun sank into the ocean and the boys rode every last wave until there was no longer any light. We spent the last night at the hostel playing Pisco Pong. I had to finish off my bottle of pisco so thought a little pong would be the best way to take care of that. With no solo cups, we had to make do with coffee mugs, which made for an interesting and very long game of Pisco Pong!

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