And some good luck
05.03.2010 25 °C
Firstly, appologies for the lack of blogs recently everything has been quite hectic as you will soon read............ so just to give a quick update I wrapped things up in Cuzco about 2 weeks ago now. I was so sad to say goodbye to everyone as I had such a good time and really made some amazing friends whilst I was there so I was quite tearful when the time came to say goodbye. But hey it was time to move onto the next adventure and at least I wasn´t alone this time. Alex and I travelled by bus overnight to Arequipa a city 12 hours south of Cuzco. From there we ventured into the Colca Canyon which is at a fantastic 3,800 m altitude, still didn´t experience any effects from the altitude I am begining to wonder if altitude sickness is an urban myth! At Colca we took in the spectacular views and observed the Condors which are these gigantic 6m long birds but they look like tiny dots in the sky compared to the size of the Canyon! From Arequipa we were going to go to the beach in Peru but both decided we missed Chile too much and so decided to head back to Santiago. It was an eventful several day trek from Arequipa to Santiago and we had an incredible amout of luck on the way, although I guess that depends on your definition of luck.
The bus from Arequipa took 8 hours to Tacna (the border of Chile) as the bus burst one of its tyres, so we got stuck in the middle of the desert for about an hour. One might think this is bad luck however it allowed me to get off the bus and take a serupticious wee behind a sand dune. As there was no toilet on the bus this was veryyyyyy lucky for me as it was another 3 hour drive to the border! When we finally arrived in Tacna about 9pm we realised that we only had 1 hour to make it through the border which was cutting it VERY fine. We had forgotten that Chile is two hours ahead of Peru and that because the border closes midnight Chilean time we had to make it through before 10pm Peru time. As most border towns are, Tacna is a most unpleasant place and there was no way we wanted to stay overnight, however if we made it though the Peruvian border and the Chilean border was closed it would mean spending a night in the middle of the desert!!! There was a ´queue´ (or their definition of a queue which is a bunch of people standing around) of about 50 Chileans waiting for Chilean taxi drivers to take them through the border. Somehow I don´t know how but one of the taxi drivers pointed at Alex and I out of the crowd of people and agreed to take us. Alex is convinced it is because the guy spotted me, ahh sometimes the joys of being a white and female! We made it through the Chilean border just as the clock ticked 12.01 yeeeeaaaahhhh baby! After spending the night in Arica we went to the bus terminal to see about tickets to Santiago. We were informed by several people that there were no tickets to Santiago at all that day and we would have to wait until the next day. Another stroke of luck and we managed to find tickets for that day leaving in a few hours time for cheaper than what we should have paid. Again I didn´t understand how we did it but I have learnt not to question things anymore. We later found out that the bus company had sold us the very two back seats of the bus which are usually not sold as they are seats for the bus conductor! The bus journey from Arica to Santiago is meant to take between 30 and 35 hours. When we got on the bus we were informed that it would only be taking 24 hours as everyone was travelling to Santiago so it would be travelling direct. This still sounds like a long time right? But distances in South America are long! I am so used to it now that it doesn´t bother me especially when you have a good book, an ipod a bottle of boxed wine and a man to snuggle up to!
We arrived in Santiago, a little jaded but as I was going to stay with Alex at his house I was going to see where he lived, meet his friends and family and I was excited! Luckily Mum was out when we got home so it gave me a chance to scrub up. We met very briefly that evening but as it was late the full initiation was saved until the next day! And I was certainly thrown in the deep end as it was business lunch with Dad and tea and cakes with Mum. They are amazingly welcoming and really made me feel at home. Las Condes is a lovely area of Santiago , which is very green, safe and on a good day you have fantastic views of the Andes! The plan now is to stay here for 3 weeks. I am going back to school to do a few more Spanish classes and just generally want to spend time here, hang out, practice the language and see if this is a place I could potentially live. I decided a while ago I wanted to come back to South America to live, teach English and learn Spanish at the same time. I love the culture and the language and the fact I have also met someone here is an amazing bonus! This wasn´t really in my life plan, I mean I was supost to return to England, complete a Masters course get a high powered career in Pharmacuticals be loaded, buy a flat in London, flashy car, a Mulbery bag etc etc etc. Now I am potentially moving to Chile, giving up my career so I can teach English on a potentially very average wage, and am quite possibly going to be poor. One of the things I have learnt on this trip is to follow my heart and do what makes me happy and that´s what I am going to do. I used to think you were only allowed one thing, money or happiness but not both but I am now hoping that somewhere along the way I might happen to find a way to make a living whilst doing something that does make me happy. So far I love Santiago and I have a good vibe but we will wait and see what happens!