Friday, April 16, 2010

Another "Adventure" - Part Four

At the Peruvian border, we repeated similar steps to our prior experience. After parking the car, we had to gather the group (as well as our bags this time.) We headed inside where our paperwork was examined; our bags were scanned; and the vehicle forms were stamped. Pedro was then directed back out to the car and we were instructed to exit and wait at the other end of the building. For some reason it seemed to take awhile for Pedro to return with the van. It turns out that he had to get six or seven stamps on the vehicle forms from all different people. In one case there were three or four people sitting on one bench who took the form and each one stamped it. Pedro said it was so ironic because they had nothing at all to do with the car! The final stamp came from the customs agent and then we were free to go.

Driving on a strange road in a foreign country in the dark was a little weird but we reached Tacna around 9 p.m. and began straining our eyes to read street signs. Thanks to a last-minute call to a colleague in Iquique before we crossed the Chilean border, we had some basic directions to follow but it was hard to see with the crush of traffic and pedestrians in a city much busier than we had expected. We were abruptly detoured when the main road was cut off by a demolition site, but somehow managed to end up on a road with a familiar name. On a narrow side street we finally caught sight of our "apart hotel." Their garage door appeared to be locked and I hopped out to see what could be done as Pedro circled the block. On his second drive by, the concierge manually opened the wooden door and it swung upwards, revealing a dim basement with low roofs and tight parking spots. I couldn't help thinking that I did not want to be in that garage if an earthquake hit!

It took two trips but eventually our whole group made it up to the fourth floor via a very small old elevator. The apartment we had reserved was a welcome sight with its spaciousness despite being a little shabby. The old wooden floor felt warm and softly worn under our feet. Hard, cracked couches sufficed for a place to rest as room assignments were quickly handed out. Soon our tired and hungry grew decided to brave the crowded streets in search of something to eat.

By then it was around 9:30 p.m. Chile time and no one had the energy to walk very far. After several fruitless blocks of drugstores, storefronts and "tragamonedas" ("money swallowers" as casino-type establishments are called) we finally stopped at what appeared to be a quiet restaurant with enough room for our crew ...

1 comment:

Ferenje Mama said...

Hola Stephanie! What an amazing journey! Looking forward to the rest. :)