December 24, 2009
Before beginning our extremely sketchy journey to Arequipa, Elaine and I decided to spend the morning at Paracus, a group of islands full of sea lions, birds and penguins. To get to the islands, we had to take a small speed boat, which was the most jarring sea ride I´ve ever been on! I don´t know if the captain was trying to give us a ride, but our boat continously got a few seconds of air before crashing down into the waves. SO fun! The destination was nice too.
There were a plethora of lazy lobos marinos (sea lions), a bajillion birds (really, it looked like UT campus at quarter till the hour), and a few uber cute penguins scattered around. Although the islands were very pretty (and fishy smelling), in this case I must say, “Sometimes the journey is worth more than the destination”.
Let the Sketchiness Begin
Ah, the journey to Arequipa. There is much to be said about this one. To get to Arequipa, we had to take a short bus from Pisco to Ica. We arrived in Ica at about 4pm, obliviously thinking we could catch a bus a few hours later. Oops, we forgot Tis the Season for Travel and Annoyingly Needing to Plan in Advance. I guess I didnt learn much from last year when I arrived in Bali on New Years Eve, without first booking a hostal. That was an interesting night…
The first bus company had all of their buses booked until Dec 27th. Uh-oh. Second bus station had two seats left on a bus that left tomorrow. Staying in Ica for the night is NOT a good option; it´s kind of the sketchiest/trashiest city ever. We decide to risk losing the last 2 seats to run to another bus company and ask if they had any seats available. 3rd bus company has two seats for a 5:30 bus leaving to Arequipa. Success!! Oh wait, the guy processing our order takes 30 minutes to copy our passport information, and trys to charge us a high price for a typically inexpensive bus route (duh this is south america, isn´t everything like a dollar?)
Finally, we pay the high price (Tis also the Season for Paying High Prices. Stupid demand and supply graph screwing us over), and sit down. Shortly after sitting down, I notice this man come from the streets and sit a row across from us. Immediately, my radar goes off ( After Vietnam, I developed a fantastic creepster radar) and I realize he is watching us. I move Elaine and I to another area of the bus station and we sit down again. Then I notice a different man staring at us. This man looks at his phone and types something. Shortly thereafter, the man we originally moved away from gets up, walks around and sits down directly across from us. I then craft a conspiracy theory in my head and convince myself these two men are working together to rob us. I once again move Elaine and I to the opposite end of the bus station, where we are sitting on a ledge with our backs (and backpacks) against a wall. Only then do both of the creepy men completely leave the bus station. They never had a ticket for the bus and were never going to get on the bus! They were definitely planning to rob us….good thing my big bad scary self scared them away 🙂
Ironically enough, a few minutes prior to all this happening, Elaine and I befriend an old Venezeulan couple. The lady tells me to be careful traveling in South America as people take advantage of little white girls who don´t speak Spanish. I tell her, “Duh, that´s why I brought Elaine!” She predicted correctly, but this time Elaine and I fought off the intruders master scheme before they had a chance to begin. Intruders and robbers beware!!
A few minutes later, we befriend a policeman named Lucho from Arequipa. He was tranporting a prisoner and is now returning to his family in Arequipa. He tells us he bought a ticket at 1pm, and has been waiting since then. He also told us that when he bought his ticket, he was told he got the last ticket and they are now sold out. Um, what?? Pretty sure we just bought 2 tickets 30 minutes ago. This can´t be good….
Then, the bus arrives and we´re allowed to get on. But I can´t find my ticket.
Then I find it!
Then we get on the bus.
At this point, Elaine & I are rather confused but happy we´re on the bus, so we don´t ask questions. Let the bus journey begin. This time, I hope the journey is not as much fun as the destination
Next blog: Arequipa and how our luck drastically changed.