18.11.2010 30 °C
Arrived in Arica (coastal city in northern chile below peruvian border) this after noon after a 30 hour bus ride!! Man that was insane! Biddy and I have both travelled for 30 hours before but that was swapping planes and airports etc but this was just continuous. The bus did stop every now and then to upload/drop off other passengers but for the 1st 18 hours we were too scared to get off because sometimes the bus would stop for 30 sec and sometimes for 10min and we were worried if we got off and it was a short stop the bus would leave without us. the bad thing about these phrase books is that ir teaches you what to say but it doesn;t prepare you for the response. eg if I ask "how long until the bus leaves?" I have no idea what his answer means! Me and biddy get quite excited/proud when we ask for something in a whole sentence in spanish but when they answer we just stare blankly and wait for them to turn the till/calculator around so we can see the price. Still everyone continues to be patient with us and we are told chileans speak really fast and "sloppy" in comparison to the rest of south america so hopefully things will improve.
So we are in Arica. As soon as we came in we put on our bathers and went down to the beach for a swim in the pacific. Everyone at the hostel in santiago said how freezing the water here would be but we found it quite refreshing. we then went on the hunt for a supermarket "super mercado" but couldn't find one so bought some stuff at a vege market and the rest at a convenience store so a bit more expensive but OK cooked our black beans again and it was the best dinner ever!!! Biddy cooked and did a great job with the few ingredients we had! So the packet of black beans will continue its journey with us.
There is a nice retired Canadian couple in hostel and they just came from peru so giving us some good travelling advice and there is also a german girl and a french girl. We had a bit of trouble finding the hostel this arvo. We were given instructions from the guy at the santiago hostel but ended up heading in the complete wrong direction. Standing with packs on looking confused obviously alerts locals that we need help and help they did, they were so lovely. 5 sets of helpful people later we found our hostel (a pharmists who spoke no english but showed us how to use the payphone so we could call hostel... hostel staff didnt speak english either so that didnt really help, a man walking a motorboke who tried to get us a taxi and helped us get walking directions in the right direction, 2 young men who directed us again half way, an old man who spoke good english and then found us two boys to show us the rest of the way. By the way BTW this whole trek was about 600m! Haha
So the drive itself turned me and biddy a bit crazy. we each managed to sleep a bit which was good but unfortunately we chose the semi cama instaed of the cama and it turns out cama is fully reclined and semi cama is only semi reclined but still ebtter then a plane seat so it was ok. AND we scored seats at the front of a double decker bus which was good and bad... good beacuse we got to see the scenery all the way. Mostly desert mountains which you will see in the pics. Actually it was exactly like planet Tatooine from star wars where luke lived with his aunt and uncle, I was expecting a band of tusken raiders to jump out at any second (wow thats' really my inner geek coming out!! haha) and a few shanty towns, and bad because we felt the full force of near death experiences as the driver overtook illeagally as oncoming traffic was heading towards us and see over the teetering edges of the mountains we were going up.
There was a lot of little shrine house along the side of the road constructed out of all sorts of material, some very extravagent and other quite plain, all about the size of a dolls house. I think these were for road side victinms but I couldn't believe how detailed they were and how many there were!
So here for 2 nights so we can recover from 30 hour trip and book our next bus trip across the border into bolivia where we will make our way slowly to the bolivian spanish school in sucre. I will keep you posted when I can.
Biddy is currently trying to get the hostel cat to come and cuddle with her, he is a bit more timid than beautiful botcat but she's determined. haha. A funny point of conversation we had today:
Me: "Wow llamas!! That's the first Ive seen in south america!!!"
Biddy "Really???................ hmmm me too!!!
well thats all for now, i need sleep!
love to you all