Adiós a Perú

South America 2005

Ha ha ha. Quite drunk. Suzie and I have been away now for fifteen days yet today was only our second day travelling alone together. We’ve spent the last two weeks with a ton of people (memory jog: Erich, Tom, Héléne, Polly, Holly, Autumn, Figo et al., and Carmen), but yesterday (Tuesday) we said a quick but emotional goodbye and got on a bus. For ten hours. Then we got on another bus. For six hours. And then into a taxi. For an hour. Nineteen hours it took us to get from Cusco, Peru to Arica, Chile. Needless to say after that long in buses we did the only thing that comes naturally to English people and had a few drinks. That’s where we are now.

So what does bus travel in South America mean? It means waiting in brick-block buildings clinging desperately to your bags worrying that someone will go at them with a razor; it means seeing innumerable stars watch over desert mountains; it means watching seemingly lost Quechua men and women jump onto a bus in the middle of the night with bulging bags. Policemen climb aboard and check luggage for some unknown but illegal baggage while a bad film flickers on the television, famous actors made anonymous with bad voice-overs. It means feeling warm but uncomfortable one moment to feeling freezing cold and uncomfortable the next, so much so you need to hug friends for body heat. It means waking up to the shanty towns of some new city with no idea were you’ll be in hour’s time. Ironically, the actual travelling part of travelling is the hardest part of travelling.

We left Autumn in Cusco at eight yesterday evening. At six-thirty this morning we were back in Arequipa. An hour later we we were on a bus to Tacna, a dodgy border-town in Peru. From there to the border, where I realised I lost my Peruvian tourist ticket. Twelve soles later I had another for the time it took to stamp it and file it away. Two bag checks and three queues later we were in Chile. A taxi took us to a hostel in Arica where we thought, due to our confusion of currency prices, we were being charged ten quid a night. It turns out we’re only paying three pounds (1,000 pesos). Tomorrow a flight to Santiago beckons. We are soooo knackered. Sleepy time.