When we left Singapore, we though we’d go North from Puno, where our Journey with Hermano was supposed to end, spend a couple of weeks around Peru, and then cross over to Brazil. We knew this plan was flexible, but we didn’t expect to change it so radically at the very beginning. Turns out we decided to turn 180 degrees and go straight from Puno to Chile… the day after we said good bye to Hermano.
So we spent another night in Puno together with DJ, and the next day we went to see the Amara Muru gate, said to connect the Physical and Spiritual worlds. It’s a place where tourists generally don’t go, so we were very happy for some peace and quiet. In the evening we said good bye to our dearest companion and sister DJ, and got ready for a change of countries and sceneries.
Most tourist agents sell bus tickets to Tacna, the Peruvian town closest to the border with Chile, from where you could get another bus or a taxi Colectivo (the very common shared taxi they have around here) to Arica, the closest Chilean town.
We found an agent who said he sold tickets all the way to Arica, so upon strong bargaining, we bought the promised tickets from the man. The bus to Tacna was a 9hrs overnight and we were told it would be cama (bed) and heated.
As it turned out, the cama seats were uncomfortable even for a plain sitting bus, not to mention a bed, and the heating came in the form of a minuscule blanket that could barely cover our frozen feet. It was a ride from hell, with the extreme cold in our bones and with coming down on wavy roads from 3800m all the way to sea level. To top it all, the pressure in our ears was so strong that they hurt for hours even after we got to Chile.
We thanked God when we reached Tacna in the morning, and eagerly looked for the way to Arica, as we had heard it was 25degrees there …and a beach too!:) Not small was our surprise and disappointment when we realised the ticket sold to us for Arica was actually taking us only to Tacna. So here it was, our first incident of this kind!
We were still happy that the lesson learned was not too expensive, and we immediately found a colectivo (15 soles/person) that we shared with 2 other people. At the border, only one of the 2 guys made it back to the car. After half an hour, the driver gave up and we left, not knowing anything about the 5th guy… Not strange at all, huh?
We had bought some cheese for a picnic in Peru and we still had some left when we headed for Chile. We had to eat it all on the way to the border though, as apparently animal products cannot be introduced in Chile. Another lesson learned;).