Published: November 21st 2009November 20th 2009
Well well well what a day!!!!
All started well at 5.30am when i got ready to leave Arequipa....Enrico drove me to the bus station to take my Cruz del Sur bus to Tacna....
The departure lounge was like a swish airline lounge.....apparently I was on the best bus line in Peru. Of we went and soon we were in this incredible desert landscape....the northern Atacama ( see images ) absolutely amazing.
There were also two movies during the trip both excellent although in spanish....the first was with Morgan freeman and Jack Nicholson about life before death.....and the second was a terrorist thriller called Eagle Eye.
The bus was scheduled to arrive in Tacna Peru at 12.30 but half way into the trip we were stopped had to all dissembark whilst all siutcases were searched..what a total waste of time...this now put us behind schedule by one hour which had us arriving at 1.30......now I was begining to panick as I knew that Chile was two hours ahead of Peru and my flight was at 5.10 and I still had to find a way to get to the airport from Tacna peru. The conductor told me not to worry as Chile
was 1 hour ahead!!!!
Taking no chances I was first off the bus at 1.30 and raced out of the terminal to find a Taxi......the first one quoted me 10 soles ( about £3 ) so I knew that was wrong and sure enough he was going to take me to the local airport........he then directed me to some other taxis.....then there was some confusion....they wouldnt go until the car was full...5 people....this would take about an hour...my chances of making the flight were getting slimmer by the minute. Then I was told that Chile was in fact 2 hours ahead......shit!!!!
I quickly negotiated with another taxi driver...Gonzalez!!!!....to take me straight away and I would pay 5 fares!!!...this worked out at $25.....the car was a total wreck....I asked if the car would make it to Chile.....it still had the old bench seat in the front!!!!!....Gonzalez proudly claimed that it had a new 3 litre engine in it.
It was now 3.50 Chile time and it was 65 klms to the airport and we had to go through Peru exit and Chile entry customs ......
Speedy Gonzalez said he would do everything he could to make it.....and by God he really
floored it......160kph in an 80 zone....the guy passed everything.....I was holding on for dear life....the temperature outside was over 100 degrees....we had all the windows open...and everything was rattling in the car....we came to the police control and he hardly slowed at all .....then turned to me and cackled with laughter.....I was terrified....
When we got to the border there were long queues so he just went straight to the front shouting I was an important British vip......some people muttered about getting in the queue but the Chileans didnt mind as they disslike the Peruvians. Once I got my Chilean entry stamp we raced out of the customs and screamed down the road for the last 5 kms to the airport....Gonzalez laughing all the way!!!!!
We made it for 4.50pm.....the plane was taking off at 5.10......I gave him an extra $5 for a bottle of whisky and then raced into the airport departure desk......
They were just closing everything when I pleaded to check me in......no problem they said...but I had to run through security and into the departure lounge......I then noticed that my shirt was wet through with sweat...they called ahead and kept the door open for me!!!!!!!......Ive
never been that close to losing a flight...phew!!!
The one hour flight raced by and soon I was landing in Iquique.....the car was ready and waiting for me and I got a comp upgrade tp a VW Bora....
It was strange driving a car again after what seems ages.....
I had not booked any accom for tonight so when I saw a Holiday Inn express I stopped and checked in....they gave me a room with a sea view of the Pacific ocean....this is fantastic( see images )
After settling in I had a drive around town....this place is v. sophisticated and modern...totaly different from Peru. So when I spotted a Casino I decided that today I was on a high.....and sure enough after 2 hours and about £45 up I called it a night.
The sound of the waves crashing on the shore under my window....Im off to bed thoroughly pleased.....sometimes miracles do happen....
Off to photograph the ghost towns of Humberstone in the morning.......then taking a flight to Calama then the bus to San Pedro de Atacama.....wow.....
There are more photos below