Our first stop: Tacna, the Peruvian border city to Chile, another 20 hour bus trip from Lima, easy peasy!
In Tacna, there is a lot of offer of taxis which will take you over the border, they even fill in the paperwork for you. We were quite intrigued when the taxi driver asked for our passports and took them into a building, later we understood he needed them to get the paperwork for us to enter Chile/leave Peru. This trip took 2 hours.
We entered Chile through Arica (chilean border city), and were searched at the border control, they are very careful with what you bring in – the fruit fly is a pest in Chile! So you cannot bring anything of vegetable or animal origin in. They are also very particular in defending their species and ecologic habitats. Chile is one of the rare countries that has natural borders all around its territory: the Atacama desert on the North, the Austral Ocean on the South, the Pacific on the West and the Andes on the East.
Language – Spanish
Currency – Chilean Pesos (CLP)
Famous people – Pablo Neruda, Augusto Pinochet
We moved on to Iquique, another surf city! Five hour on a bus and the outside view was very …deserted! It remained like this the whole time, after all at this point we were already deep into Atacama desert! The Atacama desert is considered to be the driest desert in the world. Some points receive only 1mm rain per year (for example, the average in North Portugal is about 1200mm/year), so water waste is a great concern all over the region.
We even had a glimpse of the Portuguese team! Unfortunately they have "escaped" from us into their hotel giving us no opportunity to meet them. Coincidence or not, the Portuguese Teresa Almeida became later the World Champion on that competition!
It was also fun for us to see how much stuff you could buy directly from your beach towel! We saw people selling empanadas, drinks, ice-creams, cookies, beach buckets, chips and even bolas de berlim (you might know them as Berliner)! You don’t need to move your butt out of your beach towel in order to get a full meal.
In Portugal it is also typical to eat berliners in the beach, so we eagerly tried the Chilean ones – sadly they didn’t taste the same!