After a big circle, I finally made it back to Peru almost 3 months later. It honestly seems strange to be back, but nice in a way since it is familiar.
In San Pedro de Atacama, I ended up going for another bike ride to the Valle de la Luna with an Irish guy I met in my hostel. It was a great ride through the desert. The 90 degree heat made it tough, but I need to get used to it for this summer, right? The heat was so bad that even the wind while resting did not help but make it worse. The whole scenery was very nice with big sand dune, rock formations, and overall just interesting in the desert. Add another 20 miles to my training mileage.
After a 10 hour bus ride from San Pedro, I arrived in the city most north in Chile called Arica. I arrived at 6:45 am ready to catch the next bus to the Peru border, and I learn that the border is closed from 7am to noon (open 24 hours a day, except these hours, why not close in the middle of the night??). So I am stuck in Arica for 5 more hours. Not to waste time, I checked in my bags at the bus station and went for a walk. Didn`t find the nice beaches that I was hoping for which are located outside of the city, but found a nice square to relax in. Also ran into a McDonalds and grabbed the breakfast special of a hamburger and coffee (the other option was 2 crossants and coffee, but they were out of crossants). It`s easy to see the difference in breakfast habits in countries just by looking in McDonalds. You go to one in the US, you have 10 different types of breakfast sandwiches, crossants, hash browns, eggs, pancakes. In Chile, you pretty much have the 3 options. Coffee with 2 crossants. Or coffee with a hamberger. Or just coffee. Shows how Chileans normally eat breakfast, not much. Guys I had talked to in hostals thought it was crazy to have anything more than coffee and a bit of bread. Especially not eggs or meat. Funny how some things are just different.
So far, it has been nice being back in Peru. But I did get spoiled in Chile and Argentina. I got spoiled with every place having toilet paper in the bathrooms, not having to negotiate prices, hot water in every shower, and easily figuring out public transport. But along with these things, I am paying less than half than before for my own room (rather than a shared room with 7 other people), can get a 2 course meal (delicious soup with 3 types of potatoes, vegetables, and meat, and then chicken and rice and mashed potatoes) for less than I could cook a simple spaghetti which was rarely that tasty. And it`s funny how things change just over the border. People eating everywhere in the streets, the music, the speed people talk (I canunderstand almost everything!), and just the general chaos in the streets. But it`s Peru, you have to love it.
When I got to Peru, I spoiled myself with ceviche for lunch. One of the best foods you can find in Peru, especially when you are on the coast.
Yesterday, I was in the plaza here in Tacna, where I stayed for the night, and I saw 2 guys who were obviously Americans in the plaza who were getting their pictures taken by and with everybody. The main reason was that one of the guys was a 7 foot tall African American. I think most people in Peru, at least in Tacna, had never seen someone of his size (and had never seen too many people of African decent). So I started talking to these guys and found out they are on a Washington DC area semi pro all star basketball team but are touring Peru right now. They told me they had a game at night, so I thought why not.
So I went to the game, which was actually really fun. Since both teams were from the US, it felt like I could be in the US watching it. Some of the guys were good players who apparantly play in the NBA development league. They didn`t take it too seriously until it got into the 3rd or 4th quarter (sounds just like the NBA), and then it finally got interesting. There were almost a few fights by the time it was over, as the game finished with a difference of 2 points. The guys were all pretty much mugged by the people wanting autographs and pictures. Overall, it was cool to see the game and seems to very good for interest in basketball for Peru. A few thousand people were there and people seemed to love it, so I imagine they will be watching and playing more.
Tonight, I am jumping on a bus to go to Ica which is about 18 hours away. I will spend a day or two there and then head to Lima for the weekend.
I finally was able to get my pictures recovered while I was in Santiago, so as far as I know I haven`t lost any pictures that I have taken. Very happy about that.
I hope everyone is doing well!