Just like that we wrote off Bolivia. It was a tough decision but in all honesty came with a wave of welcome relief in the relentless sun of the Atacama desert.
We had been trying to find out as much information as possible on our hitch up, and each person, of course, said something different. The general picture we got was:
We will be kindnapped by drug smugglers on the border, who will take us to perhaps the friendliest country on earth. It will be raining the whole time, but only in the afternoon. It will be so easy to hitchhike- the easiest place in the world, no less!- but, it is the most difficult place on the whole continent to hitchhike. The people will hate you, but they are the friendliest people you will ever meet. Most of all though, you will die on the roads.
So as you can see it was mixed messages. We took most of that with a pinch of salt. But the overriding decision, I think, is that we really want to enjoy the return leg of our travels. And that is not neccessarilly easy when you have no money and a very short amount of time (relatively speaking). We have a month and a half to try and get to the Caribbean coast of Colombia, and from there face the unknown and try and figure out a boat.
Right now, I write to you from Tacna, the first city of southern Peru. We arrived in a pitiful state (and very much remain in that state), stinking like troopers and covered in dust from the Atacama desert. It was our second time crossing the Atacama, and it was not half as bad as we remembered. It is amazing to me how the new perspective of a new driver can completely change how you perceive something. This time the desert was brought back to life with susnet colours and a detour along a road reserved only for “Cargas Peligrosos”, or Dangerous Cargos. We were riding in a truck full of explosives and crossed paths with sulfuric acid, various types of gas, and lots of secret cargos escorted by Police.
Last night, after crossing into Peru, we slept just over the border behind some food vendors. We were behind a small, wrought iron fence and attracted enough passersby for it to feel a little too zoo-like. Regardless, we slept well, sucked in by the black tiredness of days of hitchhiking.
Our clothes are beginnng to fall to pieces and everything else is showing signs of wear too. Emma continues to fix things with her wizardry, but everything has a shelf-life. We have learned to laugh these things off whenever they snap, tear or crumble. Particularly my tooth.
Anyway, we are happy to be back in Peru. The people here are so friendly that it took us hours to get the tent up last night, despite being on the precipice of sleep the whole time. It feels- dare I say it- more Latin American here, and our filthy appearance seems to be cause for celebration rather than corner-of-the eye judgement. Now, we have decided, we will head north and inland a bit to take in Huaraz.
Hopefully there we will find wifi and can type up some posts that are ready to go. This is all for now, typed just off the top of my head in a brief window of internet freedom!
Until then, wish us luck as we carry on through the desert.