(See the flag?)
After, I flew into the most southern city in Peru called Tacna. I made it to the airport early, and just my luck, the flight was delayed.
Remember, the last flight I almost missed? It wasn't delayed. Whenever I miss a flight (except for once, 16 years ago (not that I'm keeping track)) or am running late for one, the flight is almost never delayed. But when I arrive early, it's almost late. Isn't life ironic?
I arrived into Tacna late. I figured out how to get to the terminal. I went there with a young Colombian guy - who broke his foot. He wasn't that travel smart - because he almost got ripped off by the taxi. If I wasn't there, he probably would have paid three times the amount. So, he liked me instantly, but I didn't completely trust him. He was looking at my stuff too much.
At the terminal, we hired a colectivo, and a group of us drove to the Peruvian-Chilean border. Our entire group had to be processed together, then on the Chilean side, we'd all leave together. So, this is why it's faster to take a colectivo than a bus, because there are only about 5 passengers in a colectivo. The bus has to wait for all it's passengers to be processed.
While waiting, my ADHD was flaring. I was getting naughty in my head again and had all these ideas of how to move the line faster. One of the passengers told me: "Tranquilo!" [Relax!]
The Peruvian guard really scrutinized my visa - hoping to get a fine out of me. Nope. I left on time.
The Chilean passport control gave me 90 days. But the Chilean customs, on the other side, rummaged through my stuff. I think they did it, just to have fun, because I was different than the usual passengers.
They found two bottles of Argentinian wine, which I didn't finish with my friends. The guard said, in Spanish: "Chilean wine is better?"
"Really?" I said.
"Of course. What are you doing with these wines from Argentina?"
"They taste good. Really good. What wine should I get from Chile?"
"Casillero del Diablo [Cellar of the Devil]."
"That one is famous in Los Angeles." But I thought, Not very good.
He smiled. "OK. Have a good day." The other guards seemed humored too.
My group in the colectivo was amused. They asked me what we were talking about.
I told them: Wine, and why I'm not buying Chilean wine. I added, this kind of stuff always happens to me. They were amused that I spoke Spanish, because until now, I wasn't speaking much.
Upon arriving in Chile, I found a cheap hotel to stay in. It didn't have hot water. I didn't take a shower.
It was clean, but a cheap hotel indeed, where you can probably buy your stay in hours rather than nights. And compared to Peru, it was expensive.
In the morning, I walked to a cafe in town. It was really expensive, just as expensive as coffee in Los Angeles. I sat and thought and reflected and wrote to people. I decided not to stay in Chile; it was too expensive.
Then, I took a bus back. The school teenagers all stared at me, because I was the only Asian person in there. I should have said, "Ni Hao," back at them.
Back at the terminal, I took a bus back to Peru. It was half the price of a colectivo. A lady tried to give me free clothes. Was that because I looked poor or because I looked kind? Or maybe both?
Passport control was actually faster this time. There was nobody there.
I tried to talk to the guard to give me a 183 days. I spoke in English at first, but she asked me if I could speak Spanish. I spoke in English to control the conversation, but it didn't matter. And I hustled with everything I had in Spanish - asking for 183 days. I even told her I was a volunteer attorney for a nonprofit foundation girls school in Northern Peru. (This was true.) But it didn't matter.
But nope. She gave me 90 days. Well, I tried.
The good news is that my Spanish is better; I struggled with it at the last border crossing. This time I didn't.
As you know, I'm a spiritual person. Must mean God doesn't want me to stay 180 days, and it's time to move on after 90 days. I could overstay some and pay the small fine. But small fines can add up, if you stay a long time.
I then took a seven hour bus ride, next to a lady carrying a huge cake for her daughter's birthday. I could sense she felt safer sitting next to me on the long ride. The whole ride, I was wondering if this was worth saving $55 USD; I could've taken a 30 minutes flight instead. It was a long ride. Although I'd like to tell myself I'm still young, these long bus rides aren't the same. I don't like them anymore.
Well, that's it. I'm back in Southern Peru.