09 August 2011

A Week of Travel...Semi-Concious, Coca Tea Fulled Stream of Consciousness Style

Holy BeJeezus, this has been an insane week of travel. I have almost no energy left to describe it fully, despite the coca tea I am currently sipping on here in Puno, Peru. My brain is buzzing a little from lack of sleep, altitude, and coca...so I am going to do a stream-of-.consciousness free-association-y exercise. Hopefully it captures it.

Valparaiso, 8:00 AM. Sunlight blasting. Pack your junk, our bus is ready.

Stolen couch padding and a pillow case = new level of comfort for my bag. Try not to stab yourself on the bus.

Santiago. Mental map. Made it back to talk to you, front desk lady who witnessed the distaster of my Spanish upon my arrival. I've improved.

Found the Pre-Colombian Art Museum that was so elusive five months ago, and talk to fifty sixth graders who are super-interested in me. Reminds me of my students.

To El Galeon for seafood. La Piojera. You know it's a good bar when someone's copped a feel after two minutes. Terremoto. Conversation with Chilenos. Terremoto. More conversation. Tsunami. Probably too much conversation...we've broached the topics of politics and aura colors. Walk home. More politics. Oh, so you're a Pinochet supporter? Buenas noches.

We're late. Meet at the station. Make yourself comfortable, these seats are your home for the next 24 hours.

Incredible views. Fertile plain with huge mountains to dry beaches to desert. The Atacama is calling.

San Pedro de Atacama. Dry and high. Immediate tour upon arrival. No time to shower. Yes, I wear dresses in the desert. Down the giant sand dune with you.

4:00 AM. -17 degrees C. Highest geysers in the world. Swimming at 14,500 feet is tiring. Sopaipilla village. LLama tastes like venison. Cold-ass salt lake. Mango Sour on the beach with the mountains in the distance. Get the f*** out of the way, dude...you're ruining everyone's picture.

Rest all day. First real laundry in five months. Last Lomo a la Pobre. 20:30 bus. Excuse me, wasn't Chile supposed to have at least some paved roads? I don't want to die out here in the Atacama. Oh thank God...Arica.

In one week, I've literally done Chile end to end. Punta Arenas to Arica.

Collectivo taxi across the border. Did he just walk off with our passports? Ok, he came back. Giant sand dudes and fog in the desert. Border crossing=super facil.

Holy shit dude. Tacna is a little scary. Orchards in the desert. We missed the bus. Wait, we'll take a cab to catch up with it outside of town. This bus smells like corn and coca. My advice, don't use the toilet.

No Orinar, Hay camara. Todos orinan, juntos. Winding roads up to 5,000 meters. The first to puke is the little one. Then the other. Then the grandmother. Now we smell like farts, puke, corn, and coca. Only five hours to go.

What do you mean, this bus stops here?! We were told it went to Puno. Ok motortaxi with backpacks and three squished into the back. This is not a tourist town. Puno? Yes, please. One hour collectivo for 5 soles ($1). Is our hostel reserved? Nope. Shit. Other hostel. Book a tour. No time for money. Chinese food.

6:00 AM, and the sun is high in the sky. To the floating islands. Amazing and cool. Pachamama pillow cover. Sandra has bright skirts. To Taquile.

Lunch, no lunch? Who knows. To the other restaurant, away from the creepy Argentinan who is bothering Pen. Trout and Quinoa soup. To the house. Willifreddo is the cutest five year old ever.

Party for Santiago. They've been drinking all day. To the pre-Inca Ruins. Time to commune with Pachamama (by peeing in the ruins' boundaries). Walk into town. Clandestine photos of the festival. Only gringos around. All eyes on us.

Back to house for dinner, shadow puppets, and then bed. The partiers have switched to techno, on an island that still dresses in the same style as after the Conquistadores came in the 1500s. I think that veiled lady in the long skirt is puking.

You mean you wanted someone to meet you at the boat? Haha. Are you Giovanni? No. You? No. You? No. Right, let's just get on the boat. You must be Giovanni. Yes, but you have no ticket and you can't be on this boat. What? We've been waiting forty-five minutes for you! Those seats are for the passangers. No, fine. let's go.

Slowest boat ever. I could walk faster. The toilet is full of piss. Four hours to get abck to Puno.

Money, change pesos to soles, bus tickets. Bus is full. Call the others. Reserva. Chinese food. Mototaxi to the station. Woohoo water. Back to the hostel. Lost on the way. Just get out, just ditch it. Here we are.

Tomorrow = Cuzco.


  1. As Rick James once said: Cocaine's one hell of a drug!! This posting was rather funny.

  2. Coca leaf is not the same as cocaine. It is a sacred leaf for the peoples of the Andes.

  3. I understand, didn't mean to offend you.

  4. No, no...just a distinction. The people here are very close to their coca leaves and they above all understand the danger and suffering that the production of cocaine causes.

  5. I once had a Peruvian classmate who did drink coca tea in the states. I've never had it myself, though I've always been adventurous with trying new things.