Arica is somewhat famous as a surf city in Chile, so our stop there was a bit strategic with small hopes to enjoy a Pacific beach. Silly us. First, as it was winter (remember, July is winter season in South America!), weather was chilli. Second, we are from Brazil so that beach did not impress us at all.
It was still nice, the ocean brings a calmness that we could appreciate at that time. The city is overlooked by a steep hill, Morro de Arica, that makes the landscape feel a bit like Palm Springs. All right, not quite; perhaps a South American version of it.
We spent the day walking around downtown, that was packed, and even shopped at Corona Multitienda department store. For lunch, we loved ShopDog — I was just googling the place and it doesn’t seem that great now. Which teaches us that it all depends on the travelers perspective. It was probably cheap and fun, right up at our alley at the time!
Arica is at the Chile-Peru border, and we got taxis to drive us to Tacna, the first town in the Peruvian side, so we could catch a bus to Puno. Getting there at night time, we were advised that, although the departure was only two hours later, we should wait inside the bus. Our taxi drivers were tense on dropping us off, saying that place wasn’t the safest. We decided to go grab beers, and found a great cheap convenience store that also sold Triple X, a 2L bottle of cola with vodka. It was the first time I saw a bottled mixed drink like that! So innovative. Well, we got wasted and slept like angels on the bus…
Until we were awaken just before getting to Puno: the bus was stopped under suspicion that it was carrying ilegal merchandize. We were kind of abandoned on the road for maybe an hour, until somehow vans came to our rescue and took us to our destination.
Moral to the story is: all can happen while taking ground transportation in South America. Don’t panic, though, as people in general will help you out.
One day I’ll tell you a fun story from Fernando de Noronha and how lovely people are in this world.
Next: Puno + Lago Titicaca
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