Our bus left the Cuzco bus station last Sunday at 9:00pm. We rode for a little over 8 hours and ended up in Arequipa, Peru at a little after 5 in the morning. It started off a pretty decent busride. They served some food, showed a movie...there was plenty of leg room, and big roomy seats. The thing is, 8 hours gets uncomfortable, no matter where you're sitting; especially if you're sitting directly above a heater whose purpose in life is to hurt you with hot air.
Our connecting bus left Arequipa at...I don't remember...sometime after 5:00. Maybe it was 7:00...and we ended up in Tacna, Peru at around 1:00pm. The second bus was smaller...less leg room, but more comfortable, ironically. We watched ice age 2. I sort of slept through most of it, but I woke up for the end. And after that was Titanic. I don't know. It seems like if you're travelling, you maybe don't want to show a movie about people dying tragic deaths while they were travelling. Just my opinion.
Well, we took a sort of scary taxi across the border from Tacna, Peru to Arica, Chile just in time to celebrate Chile's independence day. What great timing, huh? We found a couple rooms at a nearby hostal (with no bed bugs), cleaned up a little, and then went to look around. We ate lots of good food (plus some not so good food), listened to loud music at the fair, squeezed through the crowd full of tons of people, and spent the next morning looking out at a really beautiful view of the ocean. We stayed in Arica for a couple days before we headed back to Tacna. It was strange to be back at sea-level again. It wasn't really cold. It was a nice change in weather.
I loved being in Tacna, even though we were only there a day. Each year we've sent a group to Ecuador for a mission trip, there has been a group from Peru there at the same time. And they come from a church in Tacna. So it was really neat to be able to hang out with people I met in Ecuador the past two years for a little while. We went to a prayer group they had Wednesday night at the church...I looked around the room and realized that out of all the people there, there were only a few that I didn't already know. It's so cool to be connected to the body of Christ all over the world.
I spent a long time talking with Ksenija (Senca) and it was good to see her again. She's the one who I talked with in Ecuador this year, when I was feeling scared to come to Cuzco because I felt I might not have anything to offer. She told me that I could always clean the bathrooms here...and that's something. It was good to see her again; and be able to talk more.
We left Tacna at 1:00pm on Thursday and spent way too long on the bus back to Arequipa. Turns out, there was a lady on our bus who was trying to smuggle some whiskey back into Peru. So when we stopped at the checkpoint, some scary men in uniforms with guns got on our bus and checked around for illegal things. They found about 10 of her whiskey bottles stashed in different places around the bus. We had to wait for an hour while she talked to the police...I don't know. Maybe she was trying to convince them it was medicinal or something. "But I have a prescription!" They also searched Tracie's bag, saw the stuffed animals she had bought in Tacna for the children's ministry here, and told her it was illegal to bring stuffed animals into Peru. They took her beanie babies. I guess Peru has got a stuffed animal trafficking problem. Isn't that sad? There's always something. Nevermind the lady with all the booze...let's get on this stuffed animal problem!
Also, we were sharing the bus with a big farting lady. And the windows don't open on the bus.
So we made it to Arequipa at 7:00pm, and took the bus to Cuzco at 8:00. We got back to Cuzco at about 6:00am on Friday. Longest ride of my life. Ricky and Tracie have to make this trip every three months, to renew their visas. That's why we went this week. Hopefully they will be able to get residency here soon, so they won't have to keep going back and forth to Chile. It really wears you out.