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Published: January 28th 2006
Let´s see, after my last entry I took an overnight bus from Arequipa, Peru to Tacna, Peru. I didn´t sleep much at all and arrived early - about 4:30am. I had decided earlier to skip Tacna itself, and just use it as an entry into Chile. So I had to sit at the bus station until about 7am waiting for the borders to open, and to get some transport there. I saw another gringo there in the bus station, and decided to ask him to watch my pack while I went to the bathroom. This is a difficult part of traveling alone. His name is Christoph, a nice guy from Austria as it turns out. Afterwards we sat and chatted until the border opened, and then we shared a taxi with a couple other folks who were gathered together by the driver. We made it over the border into Arica, Chile in about an hour, and then we walked from the bus station to a hostel called Sunny Days that had been recommended to Christoph. The hostel is really nice, a little expensive for me, but I´m learning that all of Chile is. It is run by a New Zealander and his Chilean wife - there are lots of other people here (hard to sleep in the dorm as it turns out) and I met some nice people. The plan was to stay in Arica one night, go on a 2 day tour to Lauca National Park, and then depart Arica for San Pedro. This is pretty much what happened, but with an extra day thrown into Arica, as I couldn´t find a tour that left the next day - not enough tourists in Arica right now. The first day we walked around the town, by the beach, and up a big cliff called El Morro with nice views of the city. I then met a guy named Steve who was trying to find people to go to Lauca - we ended up on a tour two days later with another Canadian and a Dutch couple. The second day we took a boat ride to see some sea lions and penguins near Arica and got some good cheap food. That´s the secret to traveling, for those of you wondering how I can afford to do it - meals cost about $2 for soup and a main meal and a beverage. And that´s in Chile, where it´s expensive. The following two days, Thurs and Fri were spent en route to and from the park. We stopped severl times along the way to see different sites and views and towns. It turned out really nice. It was wild to go from the coast through desert with lifeless cliffs around up to about 4000 meters where everything was wet and green. There were tons of vicunas and guanacos (wild relatives of llamas and alpacas) as well as vizcacha (a rodent that looks like a rabbit relative) and tons of birds on the alpine lakes. There were snow covered mountains in the background and volcanoes, which we were unable to see due to clouds and some rain. But what we did see was pretty. I arrived back last night, and unfortunately too tired to go to Carnival, which was happening here in Arica. I am using today as a catch up and rest day, and then leave again tonight for San Pedro de Atacama, in the Atacama desert, the driest in the world. From there to Santiago and the Lake District, before heading to Patagonia....
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