Trip Start Jun 15, 2004
105Trip End Jun 15, 2005
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Time for Peru, also known as country No 13, and so walk down to the street where the colectivo´s speed by - collectivos are a cross between a bus and a taxi, where, in this case, a car looking very similar to a taxi is going to a set destination, the bus station, but will also deviate and pick up other passengers.
Despite a few of them wanting me to exclusively hire the taxi, one eventually agreed to take me as a collectivo, and we reach the bus terminal, with a few other passengers, at which point another collectivo driver chases after my custom - except this time the collectivo looks like a 1970´s chevvy, and far less official than the last one, but hey, he seems nice enough, takes me to the office where a women types out the paperwork on a typewriter, I pay my departure tax (every bus station has a departure tax), and I get into the car with 4 other adults and a baby, onto the Pan-American highway north - departure stamp from Chile (thats 25 days!), through to Peru, and reach Tacna, a city just north of the border.
Appear to have booked myself a nice hotel in Arrequipa, for a reasonable price - Peru should be cheaper than Chile, and board the surprisingly good bus to Arrequipa.
Try out Inka Cola - gold coloured sweet fizzy drink that isnt that nice, and then watch the bus crew video the entire inside of the bus, seat by seat, before we depart. A little over the top, but then we do get stopped twice on the way by Peru customs, after which time the entire bus is again re videod. Settle down to watch a nice movie, play bingo (!), watching the desert landscape pass by, high mountain passes, occcassional cactus, and finally arrive in Arrequipa, where my hotel is actualy nice and does look like the brochure!
Nice to have a good quality place, after some of the less quality, but equally expensive places in Chile.
Have very nice dinner in the Plaza De Armas, the main square, overlooking the cathedral.
Tuesday 12th April 2005
Got up late for breakfast, at 9.am, when the hotel staff suggested I have it now or never, and was very nice - on the rooftop of the hotel, looking across the city to El Misti, the mountain that dominates the city (Arrequipa is at 2300m, so this must be tall)
Wander the city, across the river, and round the city to the very busy markets. There are a lot more beggars here than Peru, and it was sad to see street kids, looking as if they had come straight from a Dickens novel, trying to clean taxis as they stopped at traffic lights, and taking the money back to presumably their mother sat at the side of the street.
On top of that, you do get the children selling cigarettes, chocolates etc, and then lots of older people wandering the streets with baskets of things to buy - again, chocolates, cigarettes etc, and coming into bars and restaurants, south east asia style.
Wednesday 13th April 2005
Went to the Monastria De Santa Catalina, a former nunnery that occupies an entire city block in the city centre. Relatively expensive to get in, but then extremely peaceful, with bright white, red or blue walls, and flowers everywhere, in contrast to the noice and chaos outside. Nice to wander around for a few hours, along the cobbled streets and courtyards.
Then decamp to a bar to watch Liverpool overcome Juventus to reach the Champions League semi final, with some very loud French people
Thursday 14th April 2005
Had intended to catch the early bus to Cusco, but the drinks from last night affected me, so did very little today instead, wandering the city again, and returning to my hotel to find riot police with shields wandering around.
Arrequipa does have a high police presence - they are everywhere, and I had earlier seen a water cannon parked where there had been some demonstrations, but I still couldnt find out what the problem was.
Then caught the 10 hour overnight bus to Cusco.