South America Plus travel blog


Up at 5...cold. Bus lv at 720 to Tacna (border town)...countryside is determined by water, enuf or lack of. Agric fields of onions, alphalpha, small plots in desert w/ cassarina surrounding them. Most little plantings of bushes, trees surrounding new plots are watered w/ buckets, not irrig. Large plots have overhead sprinklers so must be more wealthy individuals owning these...citrus orchards as well as alphalpha fields to feed cows. Fifty km out from Arequipa we are in desert...flat, reddish tan sand with fine white blown sand all about. It's been a clear, sunny day until now when we hit a sandstorm kindof, which then turns into a fog. The once straight road becomes a windy, up and down and over rocky dune-like hills/mtns in cloud/thin fog...very eiree, red sand undulating off into the obscure distance.

Finally, down down weaving/winding thru rocky, totally desolate mtn foothills. We're in the most forward, panoramic seats of a dbl decker bus so the viewing is fantastic! Little traffic, and once out of mtns we are in a still cloud shrouded green valley. This has been great for traveling with no hot sun to force us to close shades.

Then up and over another rocky pass....

One constant along the way in Peru is the plastic bottles on both sides of the road. Everywhere, even here in the most desolate, unpopulated places you can imagine!

Another constant on buses...the DVDs, music videos or movies with kungfu or gun battles blasting your ears out. They seem to love their fights and chasing battles...more and more are Asian/Chinese, all pirated, you see 1,000s in the market places everywhere.

Now back to flat, moonscape on straight road...both sides have square lots marked out with stones and sometimes small plants along the front (usually dead, dried up twigs). Weird! Later, a large 'village' with much smaller lots and small, reed mat 8x8 structures (houses?)! Go figure! Now half way there the cloud/fog is gone, clear sunshine. Moquegua - a desert oasis in a river valley/canyon - irrig agric, citrus orchards, grapes, avocado, alphalpha, corn, peas, tomatoes, onions plus sheep and cows grazing the alphalpha. They stake the animals out along a line and then they graze it down along that line! Very cool!

I think it's the starkness of the change from green river bottom to barren, rock sandstone mtns all around which hits me the most...bereft of any/all vegitation, the contrast is immediate, no intermediate zone, a line - living, green with water...dead, red/tan completely dry! Most of the distance from here to Tacna is flat, dry empty desert.

In Tacna we cross the street from bus terminal and line up for bus to Chile. By 215 the bus is full and we leave. Besides lots of produce, Tacna has tons of olive trees. Road follows the RR tracks which we opted not to take due to inconvenience/slowness aca LP. Back into desert....

Once we arrived in Arica we had no idea where we were and the bus terminal persons were unhelpful at best. We walked and walked, luckily we had arrived early in the afternoon, street markings were minimal, later we found out we had walked almost 3 km to get to town center, ha! Good excercise after sitting in a bus so long. Unfortunately, the sidewalks are in poor condition, hard on our pack wheels which are getting very worn out! Tired of looking for an LP O.N. place we settled on Residencial Prat just 2 bl from McDs! The dbl was 12,000p ($23 US) right in center of town. A McDs dinner...this has become a fallback when avail...we know what we're getting for the $$ and ususally have good salads, which are hard to come by.

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