Taxiing Across The Border

June 13 (Day 26) 

After two days of beachbumming around Arica, it was time to make our way slowly back up to Lima, but not without visiting Arequipa first.  But to do so, we had to get across the border into Peru first.  There are a few options available but apparently the easiest is to grab a collectivo taxi from the bus terminal, and cross the border to Tacna by cab.  From there, you have the option of bussing or flying to Arequipa.  Considering the flight to Arequipa was priced at $30 USD (plus a few dollars for an airport tax) on Peruvian Airlines and took less than a hour, we decided to "splurge" on air travel to save us the time and risks associated with bus travel. 

So there we were waiting for our taxi outside with the hostel staff who recommended the taxi+flight strategy to us, only to find out that they never done it, nor have they heard back from anyone who had done it. Ummm... is this the greatest idea then?  Hmm, they heard back from no one?  Not very reassuring when you're taking a taxi in unknown territories and crossing an international border.  That being said, the staff members were an Australian couple just working a few weeks in Arica before their planned train trip to Peru. But why were they choosing the train over the taxi+flight?  Before we could get an answer, our taxi arrived, and we were off to the Arica Bus Terminal.  Well, that's at least where the Australian told the driver to take us.  Sure enough, we stopped just outside the bus terminal and before you know it, there's a guy taking our backpacks out of the trunk, and offering us a ride across the border.  Ok, let's go with the flow.  We got into his car, and he asks for our passports.  By this point of the trip, we got used to pulling out our passports for every single little thing because it seemed like almost everyone wanted to check our ID when traveling by bus, train, boat, or plane.  So we handed over our passports, and he quickly scooted out of the car and into a nearby storefront.  Ummm... what just happened there?  There better be only one door out of that store.  Luckily, he came back with our passports and immigration forms already filled out with our information a few moments later. That was a relief!  

As we drove towards the border, we could see in the distance, miles upon miles of beaches and spectacular waves.  We hit the border and got out of the car to show our paperwork at two modern offices (one Chilean and one Peruvian), and we were soon on our way to Tacna Airport.
The whole cab ride took less than 2 hours and we arrived with plenty of time to lounge around and watch most of the Germany-Australia World Cup game.  Funny thing is as Steph walked through the security scanner, Germany scored their first goal, and well let's just say, scrutiny was very lax at that moment and the moments soon thereafter as I passed through the gate (as I later found out in the screening section at the airport in Arequipa)... oops!  I meant no harm!
After landing in Arequipa and being escorted to our hostel, we headed out to have a customized, right out of the cookbook, traditional Arequipan dinner at a restaurant overlooking the main square.
The area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it's hard to argue its inclusion on the list.

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