Danny and Anna's Round The World Trip 2005 travel blog

Our border crossing transport

Not much to see in this part of Peru

The rolling desert hills

Ross, the owner of our hostal in Arica had been in invaluable source of information. He advised us against journeying through Bolivia to get to Peru. Elections on the 18th mean the country is roadblock and protest central. Apparently a cocaine growing drugs baron intends to be elected either democratically or by force, upon his election Ross anticipated that stability would return but at the cost of progress in the country as he will remove all foreign investors. Crazy stuff.

Ross had also advised that the nicest, if not the fastest way to cross the border was by train. We took his advice and headed through yet more desert to Tacna where the railway station was something of a living museum with ancient steamtrains crumbling away in the sidelines.

Next destination: Arequipa. This bus journey was perhaps the most memorable we will ever take. Scheduled to leave at 10:45 it became very apparent that we were no longer in Chile where buses always leave on schedule. We didn't mind though. The bus was 45 minutes late in leaving as its passengers struggled to cram more and more bags of goods into every available space. Once everything was on the bus the passengers then started umpack their purchases and trade amongst themselves. Shoes for blankets, jumpers for wholesale packs of mascara. A huge torch travelled the length of the bus and back for on more than one occasion and some of the braver locals shyly offered us flipflops and cuddly toys.

This activity continued for a good hour or so into the journey through yet more desert landscapes. Slowly the bus settled and miraculously everyone was seated. We were nearing a government checkpoint. Officials with the words SEDNA boarded the bus and demanded id cards at random whilst poking through some of the bags. Soon the passengers got impatient and started heckling "vamos, vamos" (lets go).

To our amusement as soon as we were travelling once more people were out of their seats and household items were circulating once more. There were a few stops at small towns along the way and on each occasion we were bombarded with vendors selling everything from cold drinks to full meals to icecream. Some approached the windows with there goods suspended high in the air on long poles, others braved the cramped interior all pushing to get to the back. One determined little boy with an angelic face and cheeky smile won me over and I bought some sweetbreads to nibble on. I then endured Danny whinging that I had wasted 1 sol on something we didn't need for the next twenty minutes.

The journey was so entertaining (there was also an episode close to the end when a passenger got up and started preaching about Christianity) that we arrived in Arequipa in 6 hours feeling fresh and game for more travel. And so we made a snap decision to go overnight to Cusco....

Day 296 complete

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