As mentioned last night, our plans had to change more or less as soon as we’d crossed the border from Arica, Chile to Tacna, Peru due to a little mishap that we would never have expected due to our familiarity with our neigbouring city.
My boyfriend, Rulo is from Arica and I had been living there for the second time for the past nine months, my mama is Chilean so I have dual citizenship and am considered Chilean over here. Going to Tacna is basically part of being from Arica, it takes about an hour to get to, the crossing is simple and it’s a great day trip, you pop over, have a delicious lunch of cebiche and seafood chaufita, a Peruvian take on Chinese stir fried rice and a juice from the market, buy whatever you need (the most popular items being toilet tissue and clothes detergent due to the difference in price, it’s quite a bit) and then you hit the road and you’re home in about an hour. Tacna is now much bigger than Arica, the amount of Chileans who spend the weekend or holidays there is huge, they even go over to celebrate Chilean Independence Day!
So we crossed the border which took a little bit longer seeing as we are taking the van out of Chile for at least six months, a bit of paper work on the Peruvian side and then we were on our way. Rulo had previously been in contact with the Peruvian consul to try and make the crossing trouble free but…they weren’t much help at all, to be honest it was a waste of time considering the amount of appointments and meetings he had to attend to which amounted to nada.
We arrived in Tacna to spend the night, buy insurance and a few last minute bits with the hope of setting off at around 3am to head over to Cuzco, settling in and setting off early the next morning for the beauty that is Machu Picchu- I had already bought the train tickets for a seven am departure but not the entrance tickets to the site. So in Tacna, we stopped off to buy some plastic bottles so as not to keep buying disposable bottles during this lengthy trip and then popped over the road to buy a few more things leaving our van parked opposite. At this point it was about 7pm and had already gotten dark. As we exited the shop, an old man stopped Rulo to say someone was looking for him, which for me was an immediate red flag so I crossed the road straightaway. Then a taxi driver who was immediately next to our van said the same, I kept walking and then I saw this
We had heard of this technique from a Bolivian friend of ours, a steel ball in a sock is used to crack the window and then they can break the window properly to unlock the door. Luckily our windows are polarised which stalled them a bit and meant that the glass didn’t shatter completely but they had managed to get the door open. They must have seen us coming and made a run for it, I assume the taxi driver was there to load things into his car. Before you think that we had left a load of stuff for everyone to see, we hadn’t, everything is stored under a wooden platform which has a mattress on top for our bed, the wood has a hinge which we can lift up like a door for easy access (thanks to Rulo’s dad who is a dab hand at carpentry). Rulo was quite upset whereas I was livid, we don’t know if it was because they saw a laundry bag inside which didn’t fit beneath or because of our Chilean number plate…but it is what it is. We drove back to the closed car park courtesy of our hotel and left our van there knowing that the next morning we would have to find a window and get it polarised.
So the next day we managed to set off at about midday with a serious drive ahead of us, eleven hours of nonstop driving minus a stop off in Moquegua to buy some avocados for our lunch which I prepared as we wound our way along the numerous curves. We drove through Puno and hit 4600 metres altitude at which point we both started to feel the lack of oxygen in the air, but the landscape and llamas along the way really do make up for it. You wonder how the Tiwanaku people lived in such harsh conditions hundreds of years ago, they really were light years ahead of western civilisations in terms of survival.
At at about 11pm we finally arrived in Cuzco, got to our hostel which we had been told had free parking…it didn’t, so we had to drive around looking for a car park which proved to be rather tough- owing to the cold all of them had shut up shop for the night. And then, a little twist of fate happened, as we were driving along with our GPS sending us God knows where, someone shouted out “Rulo!” a local DJ by the name of Jon Aragon who Rulo had brought over to Arica a few months back just happened to be walking down the road at that moment. Amazing.
I was dropped off at Hostal Casa del Inka and immediately jumped into bed smothered with blankets whilst Rulo and Jon were off finding a car park. When Rulo arrived past midnight, I knew it would be cruel to ask him to wake up in a few hours to head to Machu Picchu, the drive had completely taken it out of him and he was absolutely exhausted. Furthermore, our late arrival meant that we hadn’t been able to buy our entrance tickets, so Machu Picchu has been put on hold for now which is a real shame but I know we will back to climb Wayna Picchu and marvel at the sites built so long ago by the Incas. Good things come to those who wait.
Next up: Arriving in pricey Cuzco and matching it to our budget