Chile [Loz’s Travels]

After an express tour through the south of Peru, we have made it to the small, sandy border city of Arica, Chile. We ended up stopping in Arequipa and Tacna for three and two days respectively but after realising that we just wanted to get to Chile – and with nothing stopping us – we embarked on the border crossing. Or at least we would have if Joe hadn’t lost his immigration document handed to him when we entered the country and you need to have it to exit. In truth, I wasn’t really worried as I thought if worst comes to worst, I’d be able to fly back to the relative safety of Cameron’s Britain and he’d be stuck in Peru to rot in a 5×5ft jail cell accused of illegally smuggling himself into the country. When I knew I was safe, I’d be able to let the relative authorities know about the situation and they would organise his release in a few years with limited emotional and financial distress caused to him and his family. Luckily for Joe it didn’t come to that and after a little bit of manoeuvring around some Peruvian bureaucracy, he was handed a new form. We weren’t sure how exactly the border crossing worked from Peru to Chile so we took a punt and just went to the bus station. Upon arriving, a female staff member made a straight shot towards us and enquired as to where we were headed. I say she enquired but we actually just fell into the dynamic which has taken precedence during our time in South America, that being she spoke to us very fast in Spanish, we picked up what words we could and just followed her around. We were led outside to a relatively large area, to the right there were minibuses (what they call HydroElectricas) – I’m not sure why they call them that because they aren’t top of the line Tesla prototypes, they are much more akin to the type of ride you would take to a hockey tournament in year 6. Directly in front of us were two taxi drivers and following our philosophy of ‘say yes to the first thing we see so we don’t have to carry our heavy bags for much longer’, we accepted their offers for a ride across to Chile. Evidently, the taxi drivers leave when they have a full car full of people, a full car being seven people. Seven people in a five seater and I was the lucky boy jammed between the driver and Joe in the front like a British sardine. It was truly a bizarre ride along desert highways with some surprisingly decent Latin American music blasting directly in my face. A moderately sized plastic Jesus hanging from the rear view mirror periodically swinging into my forehead and my shoulder wedged in the rib cage of a Peruvian man I’d met minutes earlier. Joe, the driver and myself all seemed to see the funny side and regularly had a good laugh about it before returning to the utterly confusing discomfort. It was hard to imagine how I’d gone from night shifts in a supermarket five days a week to this and it was even harder to work out if it was a step up or down. There were some extremely enjoyable moments during our time on the fields of battle in the deserted supermarket 10pm-7am, I’m confident my fellow veterans would agree. A highlight being one of the most interesting people that I have had the pleasure to meet (a man by the name of Tom), disappearing – as he was known to do – and being found an hour or so later asleep in a chair. The same man also held conspiracies about there being a hidden floor to the building and forced his way onto a scissor lift to assist a female lorry driver who clearly was not in any need of assistance. Great guy though and certainly made the nights go by quicker. Not sure how I got onto that tangent but the border crossing went by very smoothly (a benefit of reasonably rudimentary security I suppose). We are now in Chile and it may well just be in my head but there seems to be a calmer atmosphere here, a little removed from the charming peculiarity  that was often Peru. Tomorrow we head to Iquique before trying to figure out how to get to Valparaiso and Santiago. I’ve had enough of deserts for a while though so I hope our way through the world’s driest one (the Atacama) goes off without a hitch. If we end up breaking down and I have to survive by killing Joe the first chance I get and using his skin as a protective tent from the sun, so be it. Laurence of the Atacama sounds alright to me. Joe is still snoring relentlessly every night and it disgusts me.

Loz

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