South America on a shoestring

Travel time: June - December 2004  |  by Rob W.

Back to the future in Arequipa

Arequipa (2), July 7th - 16th

I got the bus from Copacabana to Puno to meet my friends, and was hoping to leave for Arequipa that same day having been told what a shit hole Puno is. However the girls weren´t going to be back from a floating island tour until 4pm so I arranged to meet them at the hostel then. However I forgot that Bolivia and Peru are in different time zones so ended up waiting around for an hour, having thought that it was already 4pm! It was great to see them and chat to someone I actually knew. While travelling is fantastic because of the opportunities it gives you to meet new people, I always find myself engaged in the same bloody conversations... Where are you from? How long are you travelling for? Where are you headed next? Who gives a fuck?! We stayed the night in Puno which really wasn´t as bad as everyone made out, and caught a bus to Arequipa the following morning so we could catch the game the next day. The bus turned out to be a shitty old one, packed to the rafters with locals who reeked of fish. Now, I´m all for integration when I´m travelling, what´s the point in going abroad if you only speak to other foreigners, but when you´re stuck on a bus with old women who haven´t bathed in a year it´s pretty tempting to pay the extra and go tourist-style. Also the lower cost buses in Peru have beggars and salesmen giving you hassle all the time, including an autistic guy who shouted for an hour before wanting money. I´d have given him the money at the start just to shut him up...

So I arrived back in Arequipa with the girls, and the plan was to meet up with a group of Aussie guys they´d met up in Lima, watch the game, and then I was to head off to Chile on the 9th. As if. We bumped into the Aussies in the street (this always happens in S America, perhaps we don´t need mobiles after all!) and all headed out together for food and some drinks. They turned out to be a good group, albeit with silly nicknames (Pooh, Squid, Ski, Ryan.. and not fogetting the lovely Phae but that is her actual name) and we ended up getting pissed and having a decent night out. We all stayed in a hostel called "Like Home" on Calle Jerusalen. It´s not obviously a hostel as it has a travel agency at the front but it´s well worth searching out. It was S/15 a night and unbelievably friendly, with the staff not complaning once when we got pissed in the courtyard and came in at 5am. It´s such a small place that most of the time we were the only people staying there which made me feelreally comfortable there.

And so it came to match day. With a fuzzy head from the night before I headed with the group to buy some fake Brazil shirts. With the addition of Min and Ronan, the Shamrock Express, we were now a ´squad´ of 10 and had decided that supporting Brazil would be the way forward. Not least because they were playing Chile and everyone in S America, the locals anyway, hate Chile. Kitted out in bright yellow we headed down to the Plaza de Armas to take in the atmosphere, and our brief period of mini celebrity status began! The locals crowded round us in their hundreds (literally) singing Brazil, Brazil and shaking our hands. They wanted us to have photos with them, holding their babies and stuff. People were asking where in Brazil we were from and as the only Spanish speaker in the group I was left to answer... I considered trying to pull it off but ended up confessing that we were gringos! It didn´t put them off though, mainly because they hate Chile so much and the Plaza was packed with Chile fans, and we headed towards the stadium. The game itself turned out to be something of a non event... Brazil were lacking their star players, as expected, and the stadium was only ¾ full. Nonetheless, fuelled by Arequipena cerveza and determined to enjoy ourselves we had a great evening at the game, helped by Brazil winning 1-0, and then headed out on the town to celebrate Sarah´s 21st (wearing our brazil shirts of course). We headed to Deja Vu the local nightlife hotspot and got thoroughly pissed, while enjoying being congratulated on ´our´ victory that day! Shamrock even pulled an Argentinian bird who turned out to be a bit of a weirdo, and was last heard screaming "get the snake out of the bag you bad bad Irish man" at about 5am. Ha ha ha. Waking up with a nasty hangover the next day I decided the best thing to do would be to spend the day recovering, and book a bus to Chile for the following day. I booked and paid for my ticket to Tacna on the border, and spent the day relaxing with the group safe in the knowledge that I would be continuing on my journey to Brazil (which was beginning to look very tight for time) in less than 24 hours. How wrong I was....! I don´t actually remember making the decision but at some point I clearly did, and agreed to stay on for the next match, and head off the day after. So I stayed! My friends from home were heading off the day before the next match (Brazil v Costa Rica) so we had a big night out to send them off. We went out to our usual haunts of the bar that did 4 vodkas for 10 sols and Deja Vu and I don´t remember much at all. All I know is that I woke up the next day, the girls were gone and I think someone had taken a poo in my mouth. Kitted out in our Brazil gear again we headed for the stadium after a brief period of adulation in the Plaza (gotta love that adulation) but this time I was too hungover to appreciate it. Arriving at the ground I attempted to give an interview in Spanish for Peruvian national TV but this proved too much. I thought there was a very real chance I would throw up infront of the nation and had to leave the guy talking to himself. As the game got going I began to feel better, and a Brazilian goalfest (4-1 to Brazil) certainly helped matters.

This time I had actually planned to leave for Chile... but then a national strike came along and ruined it all. I was secretly pleased as I was having a great time so thought sod it and bought myself a ticket for the final group game as well! The Aussies headed off for the Colca Canyon and I stayed in Arequipa for a bit of R & R although ended up going out with a weird ex druggy that we had met the night before. The boys returned for the final game (Brazil v Paraguay) which finished with a Brazilian defeat, but at this one we managed to hook up with some real life Brazilians and get some songs going. Even the locals joined in, and it was a good night out. Damn Paraguayans winning though, by this time we were starting to feel quite involved!

Finding myself with only 2 weeks to get to Florianopolis it was clear that I needed to start doing some serious travelling. The shortest route by bus would take around 85 hours, and require an arse of steel as this would involve traversing Bolivia by land! However with Bolivia looking increasingly unstable as it approached its forthcoming oil referendum, this started to look like an unwise option. Flying some of the route was starting to seem like a good option, and with the nearest major city being La Paz I decided to fly out from there. Yes, I decided to backtrack....again! The bonus of this being that the whole group was heading towards La Paz too, as I´d by now decided that travelling alone is pretty hard work. I booked a flight from La Paz to Buenos Aires (which totally raped my budget) and thus had a few days to get myself back over to the Bolivian capital via guess where?? Puno and Copacabana!!! Deja Vu?

Arequipa - the good

  • Celebrity status

  • Good group of people to hang out with

  • 'Like Home' hostel... friendly and fun.

  • The footy

Arequipa - the bad

  • The hangovers

© Rob W., 2004
You are here : Overview The Americas Peru Back to the future in Arequipa
The trip
Backpacking in South America then 5 months at uni in Brazil, despite the fact I don't yet speak Portuguese. Bum.
Start of journey: Jun 12, 2004
Duration: 6 months
End of journey: Dec 24, 2004
Travelled countries: Peru
The Author
Rob W. is an active author on break-fresh-ground. since 17 years.