First Leg

Woke up to a foggy front window with my footmarks scratched along the bottom.  Defogged the window with the curtain and looked out to see a snow-dappled scene.  I am on the bus to Arequipa. Right. It´s 5:30am, the bus should get to Arequipa in an hour or hour and a half…or so I was told when I purchased my ticket.

At 7:30, with no city and no familiar volcanoes in sight, I started to get a little stressed out.  Because I was stressed out, I forgot that I had to pee.  Well, funny thing, my second leg of the journey is from Arequipa to Tacna (the town just north of the Peruvian/Chilean border) and my second bus leaves at 8:30am from Arequipa.  I thought I did myself a good thing leaving 1.5-2 hours of “Oh Shit” time. We´ll see about that.

When my bus pulled into the Arequipa bus terminal at 8:40am, I had come to terms with buying a new ticket, because obviously the bus had already left.

I hurriedly walked into the terminal and talked to a lady behind the desk.  She told me my bus hadn´t left yet, but that it was about to, and the departure terminal for her company (my bus) was a city block away from the terminal in which I was standing.  She took me outside, gave me directions and pointed, and I ran.

And as the bus driver had just thrown the bus into reverse, I waived at him to stop.  He stopped, got out, yelled at me, opened the luggage bin and chucked my bag in, and we both got inside.  Phew!  Made it. Close call. Oh, right, I have to pee…I haven´t peed since I left Cusco last night.  No worries, there´s a bathroom in the back of the bus…and cool that it´s locked. NOT.

Awesome.  Well, I´ll just try to sleep it off. Well, sleeping isn´t going to happen because there is a dude standing in the aisle right next to me, with his personal microphone, giving an hour long pitch about some diet pills.  Faaaantastic.

At 11:30am we stopped at some checkpoint, and yes, there were bathrooms, thankfully.  Phew.  Had to hurry there though, because the bus driver again almost left without three passengers.  What is this!?

Made it to Tacna.  Groovy.  Walked around the block and found the border “taxi” terminal.  Hopped into the bench seated sedan…3 people in front (including the driver) and 3 people in back.  I got a window seat.  The couple sitting in the front seat had been on my same Arequipa – Tacna bus and the two guys in the back with me were from Colombia.

Chatted up the couple, they were university students from Concepcion on vacation.  During the Chile entrance customs checkpoint, one of the Colombian guys got detained.  Apparently because he had insufficient funds to cross the border.  Bummer.

At the border: 2091 kilometers to Santiago!  Getting closer!

In Arica, walked to the national bus terminal and bought a ticket from Arica to Calama (to leave at 9:30pm…departing in only 3 hours with the time change).  While hanging out in the Arica bus terminal, I booked a hostel in Santiago and received an email from my buddy Will, from Davis:  We´re literally going to bus right past each other going opposite directions. Bummer. While eating peanut butter and bread, two dudes from Missouri started chatting me up.  They had been traveling for a few months, all the way from Mexico.  Their goal:  The Rainbow Gathering in North East Argentina:

And onto the Tacna to Calama overnight bus!

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