We left Arequipa early in the morning for Tacna, close to the border with Chile. We saw a Chilean couple we met on the overnight bus from Cuzco to Arequipa on the next bus from Arequipa to Tacna, as they were headed home from a vacation in Peru. The bus ride south of Arequipa is through a vast desert, and lasted about half a day. We schemed that since the Chileans knew how to get home better than we knew how to cross the border, we would follow them through the trans-border transportation and customs process. At Tacna, we followed them to the international bus terminal, through the throngs of unscrupulous taxi touts and other vendors. They noticed we were following them when instead of arriving at the bus station for departures and the secret and easy access doorway to Chile, they arrived at:
…the bathroom. But they were really nice and suggested we all share a cab across the border and for the quick trip to the coastal border town of Arica, in Chile. They were a huge help in negotiating a decent cab price, and getting through the border crossing. It wasn´t hard (and we didn’t have to pay the $150 reciprocal entrance visa people typically paid when flying into Chile), but having them help us out was a really nice. Thanks Enrique and Jazmin! We wanted to take photos of the desert border crossing (with a welcome to Chile photo and all), but we were having a great time in the cab with these two talking about traveling, politics, languages, careers, etc, so we don´t have many photos. But we have over 30 more hours of bus travel south through the desert to get to the capital city of Santiago, so we’re sure to get some photos sometime.