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Crossing the Andes ... to the Brazilian beaches Nine months through Ecuador, Peru, Chile, bolivia, Argentina and Brazil

Chile

PERU | Thursday, 18 January 2007 | Views [780] | Comments [1]

Arica

*Flies - only carnivores allowed*

After a 19-hour bus journey from Lima, with commentary from a fast-talking Peruvian Japanese car importer, I arrive in Tacna.  I`m subject to close inspection before I cross into Chile, with bag scanners to search for contraband fruit.  Whether it`s to protect the province from the supposedly eradicated fruit fly as the flyer I`m handed suggests or to protect the economic interests of local producers comes down to the effectiveness of passport control for flying pests.

My experience of Chile begins in the Sunday market where I`m immediately confused by the currency change, not helped by the fact a pair of shoes costs the same as a tube of toothpaste.  I settle it by consulting the internationally traded commodities of Mr. R. McDonald and take a stroll up the Morro, the site of Peru`s defeat in the war of the Pacific and now just a big statue on a hill.

I take a tour out to Lauca National Park.  We pass through deep valleys, along desert roads lined with geoglyphs and candelabra cactuses, stopping to experience the earth`s magnetism pull the car backwards uphill (or to be fooled by an optical illusion?).  We take lunch at an eco-retreat with a community of Hare Krishnas.  The vegetarian food is very good but clearly the flies have been waiting for fresh meat and my patience fails as my foot is bitten for the 20th time.  Sod the f'ing yoga principles, I`m outta there.  We drive to Lago Chungarâ, surrounded by the snow-capped cotacotani volcanoes.  There`s an abundance of wildlife - vicuñas, viscachas (like giant rabbits with long tails), mice, flamingoes and the domesticated llama and alpaca - and a real feeling of wilderness.  I wander amongst it for a while then sit back and take it all in over a nice hot cup of coca tea.

San Pedro de Atacama

*a scene from star wars*

It`s a really laid-back little town with dry dusty roads and lots of inviting places to hide away for lunch.  I join a group of Chileans for a spanish-narrated trip to the outskirts of town.  The lunar landscapes, caused by the erosion of the salt mountains (which I eroded a little more, but I have my souvenir), are like something out of this world.  Walking across the Valle de Meurte I am expecting to run into R2D2 and C3P0.  I cross the high ridge of a dune above the Valle de la Luna and watch the sunset over the desert and the multitude of stars begin to emerge above me.

Tags: On the Road

 

Comments

1

Hi Lou ~
Re: the car running backwards, uphill. Funnily enough the same phenomena occurs on a hilly road in the North of England (in fact it may be N.Wales ... memory fails). It was featured on the telly this past week. Originally it too was thought to be a result of electro-magnetic forces, but scientific bods have now proved that it's actually an optical illusion (an a very effective one, I must say!) Love from Mum xx.

  Mummy Jan 26, 2007 1:24 PM

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