This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
D 1 8 15 22 29 L 2 9 16 23 30 M 3 10 17 24 31 M 4 11 18 25 J 5 12 19 26 V 6 13 20 27 S 7 14 21 28
domingo 22 de diciembre
Destino: Arequipa, Perú Modo: Avión y Taxi Distancia: 515 kilómetros
Santiago de Chile a Arequipa, Perú
Yet another day of international transit. Today would see us making two separate flights in two different countries on two competing airlines. Today also marked the first leg of our journey into Perú, the third country on our itinerary. With packs full and energy levels depleted, Andy and I were both dragging our feet when the alarms sounded at 5:30. Compounding the obvious sleep deprivation and liver irrigation was a healthy dose of Sunday guilt for our hedonistic behavior over the past seventy-two hours in Santiago. In retrospect, it was a miracle that one of us had not ended up in the hospital or on the front page of El Mercurio. After showering and packing, we cranked out a quick “thank you” note to John who was still sleeping on his day off. We could only assume that he was either having El Mercurio: The Mercury. Chile’s most popular daily newspaper. sweet dreams about waking up San lunes: Saint Monday. to an empty apartment or A self-proclaimed holiday when one nightmares that we would never chooses not go to work on Monday after a long weekend. leave. The feelings of guilt over Vamos al aeropuerto: We’re going our three-day imposition were to the airport. Vamos is the first person plural form of the verb ir (to go). lessened dramatically by the fact piojo: kid, child that John had been a willing participant in our Santiago beveragefest. So much so that we could imagine John starting the week off with a much-deserved San lunes. Without making a sound, we left our note on the kitchen counter and snuck out the front door. Outside on Avenida O’Higgins, we immediately flagged down a cab to the airport at 7:00. Given our current states of mind and stomach, the choice of taxis could not have been worse. The taxista did not look a day over eighteen, leading us to believe that he was borrowing the cab from papá. When we told him “Vamos al aeropuerto,” his eyes lit up. Even though we were not in a hurry to make our 9:00 flight, the piojo was obviously watering at the mouth. The adrenaline-tinged grin on his face reflected his exuberance 135
at having the chance to Renault redline Santiago Hyperspace through Santiago’s nearly deserted Sunday morning streets. I say “nearly” because we had more than one close call with slow-moving pedestrians and cyclists downtown. Forty kilometers and fifteen Han Piojo’s Millenium Taxi minutes later, the rebel taxista pulled directly into a reserved parking spot and wished us well up north. Once inside Arturo Merino Benítez Internacional, we checked in at the LanChile counter and headed to the salón de desembarque. Andy caught up on the current issue of The Economist while I dined on a scrambled egg sandwich chased with some lukewarm café con leche. As expected, the LanChile flight backed away from the gate on time at 9:00. Once again, the in-flight food was nothing short of spectacular: panqueques con dulce de leche, pan, una copa de “Peanuts, Mister Bond?” fruta, yogur con sabor de frutilla, jugo and café. The quality of the fare was only surpassed by the beauty of the azafatas on board. One green-eyed blonde in particular named Carla left us both speechless. Carla surveys the aisle At 11:30, we touched down in the northernmost city in Chile’s Atacama Desert, Arica. Only a handful of adjectives like “flat” and “arid” could be used to describe the City of Eternal Spring. Still, this town of 140,000 has an oasis-like quality thanks to the dark-sand Pacific beaches that are quite popular with Chileans and Bolivians alike. In addition to being a convenient beach outlet, landlocked neighbor Bolivia depends on Arica as its main port.
Arid Extra Extra Dry
Flowers Give Our Life
Hot Tarmac in Arica
An Eternal Spring
Inside the Arica terminal we grabbed our mochilas and tracked down a taxista, Manuel, who would take us north across the Chilean border to Tacna, Perú for 10,000 pesos. That rate seemed reasonable considering that Manuel would handle all of our paperwork at the Chile/Perú border. We piled into the back seat of his Atacama Burma Shave olive green four-door Chevy and raced through the Atacama on an empty stretch of unpaved two-lane road. Minutes later, a small toll booth rose on the horizon. Unfortunately the lanes leading into Perú were not divided Signs in the Desert into Exact Change, Change Receipts and E-Pass. Evidently, our options included Stop and Get out of the Car or Turn Around and Go Back to Chile. We assumed that Manuel had opted for the former when he stopped the car and asked for our passports.
Less than an hour later, we were in Tacna where Manuel dropped us off downtown. When we inquired about local currency, he told us that we could change our Chilean pesos salón de desembarque: airport gate copa de fruta: fruit cup for Peruvian nuevos soles around the sabor de frutilla: strawberry flavor corner. After paying and thanking casa de cambio: currency exchange cerrado: closed. Open is abierto. Manuel, we set off in search of a casa de cambio. Interestingly, every window had a “cerrado” sign which we took as a bad omen. In fact, the only group conducting business downtown was a merry band of calculator-toting street peddlers on the steps of a small church. It turned out that these locals were Tacna’s official exchange bank and, according to our weathered travel guide, would give us the best peso to nuevos soles rate possible. With fresh Peruvian jack in hand, we crossed the street to a small café for some lunch and relaxation. Andy commented on my bravery for eating un sandwich de pollo in this less-than-sanitary environment. The 137
café’s bathroom alone deserved a chapter. Andy, meanwhile, had the courage to order up a piece of the postre du jour on display in the glass counter. The day-glo green slab looked as if the Incas themselves might have prepared it, and, unfortunately, my chicken did not look or taste much better. While not earning high marks from AAA for food quality or baño beauty, our little café did score high marks for having a color television. We watched the afternoon news from Lima and popped some pink Pepto pastillas por si acaso. Before long, Andy was slumped over the table with his eyes closed. My only hope was that he was, in fact, asleep and not dead from eating the mystery pie. At 14:00, we decided to stroll around the city, since we still had five hours to kill before the night flight to Arequipa. We walked through the city’s central square which was an eclectic mixture of a fountain sculpted by Eiffel, a stone arch resembling the one in St. Louis, the Peruvian flag and, the centerpiece of the town, a giant thatch-roof gazebo. Further on, the Cathedral, the largest and most-visited structure in town, was closed, so we decided to take our two-man show on out to Tacna International. The Tacna terminal was small and uncrowded. We were able to find a couple of molded plastic seats where we could alternate naps and keep an eye on the mochilas. Around 17:00, the AeroPeru gate agent came over the intercom to announce that baggage check-in would begin shortly. This announcement would prove to be slightly premature. The flight would not leave for another three hours. To pass the time, Andy and I resorted to cerveza. There was a roving beer cart in the departure lobby that I managed to track down with all of the stealth and cunning of The Aussie postre:dessert pastillas: pills, tablets Hunter. Andy and I shared two rounds of por si acaso: just in case. Also refreshing Arequipeña while recounting and expressed as por las dudas. Arequipeña: Arequipa’s local beer laughing about our lost weekend in Santiago: That Temuco train ride was one of the longest nights in my postcollegiate career. Did we really take a nap in the middle of downtown 138
Santiago? Do you remember falling on the dance floor at the brewpub? I think we really impressed a lot of people that night. How many rounds of Pisco did we have? Did that girl really tell you that she had to work all weekend...I think that she was just trying to get rid of you. I wish that we could have brought Samantha with us. If you had to choose between job offers in Buenos Aires and Santiago, which would you pick and why? Me too. At 20:00, we finally boarded AeroPeru flight #492 to Arequipa. The flight was only thirty-five minutes long and dinner consisted of a delightful AeroPeru individuallywrapped lemon drop. We touched down in Arequipa at 21:00, grabbed our packs and jumped in the back of a waiting taxi. The driver, Edgar, was a nice fellow who took us to a hostel on Calle Jerusalén called Nuñez. While waiting for Andy to scope the place out and pay twenty-six nuevos soles for one night’s lodging, Edgar floored me with some friendly advice: “No se queden aquí. Vayan directamente a Cusco mañana.” This subtle aviso made me think that this town of one million was probably not the best place for a couple of North Americans to be hanging out. It was no secret that many Arequipeños had been actively involved with Sendero Luminoso which had embraced a sort of militant communism that rejected most Western religious and ideological traditions. Despite the capture of many of their leaders, including Abimael Guzmán in September of 1992, many proud Andeans and former Sendero activists still harbored a strong anti-U.S. sentiment. Edgar’s warning was further reinforced by the hostel owner who gave us similar advice. We asked about restaurants in the area, and he advised No se queden aqui: Don’t stay here. us against straying too far off Vayan directamente a Cusco: You all should the beaten shining path. We go straight to Cusco. settled on a nice pizza place aviso: notice, warning Sendero Luminoso: Shining Path. Peruvian three blocks away called communist movement which adopted a rural Pizzería San Antonio. The fundamentalist approach in opposition to Peru’s transition to civilian rule in the late 70s. atmosphere was warm with a white bar, bright yellow walls and eight wooden tables, two of which were occupied by groups of South American and European travelers. The huge fireplace in the rear also served as the oven for the delicious, rectangular pizzas. The walls were covered with assorted graffiti from all corners of the globe. Scrawled in one corner was a simple two-word 139
“Viva River.” This was a clear indication that some proud porteños had dined here as well. Other scribbled comments shed considerable light on public opinion of Alberto Fujimori and his handling of national affairs. Post-pizza, we went straight back to the Nuñez via Calle Jerusalén and picked up a liter of agua sin gas for drinking and tooth-brushing. Morning view down Andy climbs in the
back of Edgar’s Taxi
The Nuñez was definitely one of my favorite hostels of the trip. Entering the lobby through a giant carved doorway, guests step into a long, white courtyard. A narrow stairwell off of the courtyard leads to a winding series of second-story ¡Viva River!: Go River! Reference to Buenos Aires’ River Plate fútbol club. passageways. The accessible rooftop la segunda ciudad: second city is a random mixture of umbrellas, más importante: most important blanca: white folding lawn chairs and clotheslines. piedra de sillar: petrified volcanic ash Unfortunately, we would not have tripulación: airline flight crew Inka Kola: The carbonated beverage of time to enjoy our evening view of choice in Perú. Tastes Great, Looks The City of the Volcanoes. It was Weird...This cola is fluorescent yellow. already 1:00 and we had to be rolling in four short hours.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue listening from where you left off, or restart the preview.