We’re finally heading out of Peru, this day cannot have come soon enough. We have thankfully been able to stay sane and not get a divorce during the most painful travel week ever and now metaphorically it’s time to finally flush this toilet. The stubborn unnaturally buoyant turd that is Peru has been preventing this holiday from moving on but now we wash our hands blissfully to the heavenly sound of the cistern refiling. Of course we’re being glib here, we’ve had one bad incident among a lifetime of good ones so it’s completely unfair to paint a whole country on the basis of this. On the other hand we use our small tourist insights to speak praisingly of countries so I guess honesty cuts both ways; Peru has been anything but kind to us.
So lets sum up the things we remember from Peru. Horrible dirty wasteland, good food, condoms in the water, dead dolphins and birds on the sand (delightful), being robbed, going insane in Lima, Peruvian post not working and now we’re done. One lasting memory that will last is the rubbish, how Peru needs a ‘clean up Australia day’ initiative. We hear a lot of great things about other parts of Peru but I guess that might have to be another time, for now it’s lessons learned and a harsh smack in the bum. Rant over I guess that’s part and parcel of travel if you choose not to hang with the luxury resort set. Even after recent dramas we’ll take our chances thank you.
The mild nerves in the taxi to the airport are pleasingly minute, the feeling of giddy excitement is infectious. Baggage checked, security cleared, snacks bought and we are under way ladies and gentlemen, I feel like singing a Freddie Mercury song really loud. The flight gives us a great view at the landscape of Peru while we skirt the coast toward Chile, it can only be gawked at, the desert is punitive in its harshness. The dusty brown colour stares back at us like the canvas of an over eager artist that only has one colour to work with. It sinks in to us now that we’ve seen very little other than this in our entire time in this country, nothing but this brown with scant dapples of much else to combat a colour now synonymous with defeat.
Off the plane we’re into Tacna just 50km from the border so not quite out of Peru just yet but we might as well be, our heads are already tasting Chilean pisco. It seems that there’s a long running debate between Chile and Peru about who invented Pisco and we’re easy sales for an excuse to try another pisco sour, or more. We do score a deal with an Austrian couple to split the expensive fare on a posh direct taxi over the border to Arica, money well spent anyway but even better spent when it’s half price. With the obligatory pfaffing around we’re through the border and I go through the process of checking with Charlie before I get excited. And yes, we are in Chile. We’re now less excited about leaving Peru and more excited about being in Chile, recent dramas are feeling more and more distant by the second. In a series of progressive steps away from the dramas this one feels the most significant in its possibility to carry the mantle as the last.
We arrive to a sun thats not so much setting but settling over our beloved Pacific Ocean and excitement akin to the first day of a holiday. The beach calls us as a beach so rarely does, the fresh salty air a heady contrast to the rearing desert dunes that backdrop this town. But not before cash out and $24 in bank fees, ouch, we are in Chile after all and we’d somewhat forgotten how much more expensive Chile is. But who cares really, this side of the border is notably cleaner and we can finally begin to get a better appreciation of what sort of beauty a desert can carry. We’re really just at the first town and far away from the grand expanses that give this desert its fame but the slimmest hints are there to warm our hearts like the first waft of Daphnes in spring.
We may not have had a bottle of bubbles in Lima but that won’t stop us feeling like we are siping a fine vintage now. We’re in a new country on the trip of a lifetime full inspiration for all that lays before us like it’s our very first day. The world is an oyster once more.