Ciao ciao chile! Off to Peru

Trip Start Oct 17, 2012
Trip End Mar 27, 2013

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Flag of Peru  , Valparaiso Region,
Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Our journey to Puno was rather long and tiring, hopping from one bus to the next. We left Iquique on a 4.5hr bus to Arica (about $20USD each). The scenery out the window consisted of desert all around and some Ocean to our left. When in Arica, we debate to stay the night or leave and decide to go as far as we can today. After some confusion, we get on a rather sketchy bus to cross the border in to Tacna, Peru which is about $9USD total for both of us. While at the border, we noticed there is an obvious height difference from what we've been used to so far in the trip. Everyone is a bit shorter and a bit more tan. We are very happy to be in Peru. Chile, Argentina and Uruguay were great but had a huge European presence about them; Peru should offer some variety to that. We arrive in Tacna about 45min later and begin to inquire as to how to arrive to Puno. We have to take a cab to yet another bus terminal (even though the terminal we are in has two separate stations or sides to it). This bus terminal really shows to us how different Peru is. Every woman, unless they are employees, is wearing the traditional puffy skirt, bowler hat and has long braided pigtails. We aren't in Kansas anymore. We happily find an overnight bus to Puno leaving in an hour or so for about $32 USD total. While waiting in the bus terminal we are shown more and more signs of how different Peru is compared to what we've seen. This should have been warning enough. We get on the bus and notice everyone has extra blankets. We find this peculiar. All of the buses we have frequented as of yet have been very clean and comfy with an attendant for the passengers, drinks and snacks. With this also came air conditioning and sometimes it was too chilly but we prepare ourselves for that and always pack some extra layers. This bus was clearly a bit run down... Past it's prime. Windows didn't secure shut, there was no heat or air conditioning to speak of and the seats hardly went back. We prepared ourselves for a not so comfy night. Little did we know just how I comfy this would be. The later it got, the colder we became. With all of our layers on, we were still freezing. Windows were cracked open everywhere, unable to be completely closed. To make matters even worse, we were apparently going up a mountain or two... Or ten... As the bus was constantly turning. One could assume that we were also on a road that hadn't been paved since we were born as we were constantly being jostled up and down. Clearly the shocks on this bus are yet another of its many defects. Needless to say, niether of us were able to sleep at all. The bus stops in an unknown location and weapon realize we are the only people left. In typical South American fashion, no one has explained o us that the bus to puno doesn't actually go to puno. We learn that we have to take an additional small bus to the city of puno. This takes about 30 min and at about 7am we arrive. After searhing for hostels we had written down to no avail, we happen upon a hospedaje, or guesthouse with a super cheap rate and a sketchy room. We get to share a bed in a private room for about $8USD per night despite the odor and questionable cleanliness, we are happy. We spend the remainder of the day searching for Internet and trying to research how to see Lake Titicaca on the cheap the next day.

Puno is a pretty nothing town. Every restaurant is a pizzeria, an all of the buildings are brown and unfinished. For those who don't know, in Peru homeowners pay less taxes if there house is unfinished. This means that it is truly a rarity to see a finished building and it makes for one ugly landscape. We are looking forward to moving on just as soon as we experience some of the magic Lake Titicaca has to offer.
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