Arica - still in Chile
It was late afternoon by the time we arrived at Arica's main bus terminal. We went in search of a bus to Puno, the nearest town in Peru to our destination but no one seemed to be going that way, in fact nobody seemed to be going to Peru full stop.
We approached a man who looked like he might know.
"You need the international bus station," he told us and escorted us outside. He pointed up the road. "See that wall? That's the international bus station."
A passerby overheard him. "You're going to Peru! Good luck," he quipped.
We squeezed past ladies in large skirts and bowler hats waiting for the bus to La Paz in Bolivia and soon found out that we needed to catch a bus to Tacna just over the border in Peru and that we didn't need to book in advance.
Reassured, we went in search of our hostel which was very nearby.
It was gone 7pm and Franco's blood sugar level was dropping. A young woman let us in but she didn't seem to have the faintest idea of how to check us in nor where the keys were kept. While we waited, we read all the notices stuck up around the desk: "don't eat in your room", "don't waste water", "extra for towels", "late check out, we charge another day", etc. Eventually the owner arrived and we weren't too surprised to learn that his name was Adolpho!
He was very sweet really and keen to chat but by now Franco was verging on murderous so I hurried things along as best as I could.
The neighbourhood didn't feel Chilean, most of the hostels and eating shacks were Peruvian. Franco chose a small restaurant and we were a little surprised to find that there wasn't a menu, instead it was a set meal. Satiated, we caught a communal taxi (colectivo) into the town centre.
It felt like a world apart, here were smartly dressed young people queueing for the cinema and the ice-cream parlour or drinking cappuccino coffee in posh cake shops. We didn't stay long, we needed to be up early the next morning.
Mostly it looked like this
Occasionally there were shrubs
An oasis in the desert