November 22, 2004 - Ilo 156k, 95m**

As I write this on a Tuesday morning, I hear a typewriter clacking away in the government office across the way from the VIP Hotel here in Ilo where we spent the night. In Tacna last night, the internet was kept locked up what was a phone booth. Here it is in a glass cubicle in the lobby next to the front desk. In Camana there were two terminals in the lobby. In none of these places could I hook up my computer and download the updates.

After 5 countries and 2,200 miles, they jailed our car yesterday at the Chile-Peru border. Eduardo spent all day freeing it, with help from Claudia, Marcos, Silvia and others (thanks). Here is the newly liberated Doblo.

The day started well enough for Steve and I. We left Eduardo to fight the bureaucracy and rode a couple of blocks over to get a picture of the Tacna Arch (on the 10 soles note in Peru) and Cathedral. Tacna is a well kept town of maybe 100,000 people. They say it has the best hospitals and schools in Peru, some claim because it was part of Chile between 1880 and 1929 (Tacna voted to go back to Peru).

Tacna is in an unusual extension of the coastal desert 25 miles inland at only 1,500 feet. Everywhere else along the coast so far has been high foothill on the right and ocean on the left. We road the dusty road out of Tacna (not the PanAm Highway) to the coast, past some agricultural producers (picture is onions) turned right and headed back north.

Without Eduardo, we had to carry all our food and water for the day. My rack bag expands. Steve’s Camelback holds 100 ounces and has backpack features. It was typical coastal desert road, with many moderate hills now.

Some of the beaches were rocky, others miles of sand. 42 miles into the day, I got my first flat on the front wheel Then another 18 miles down the road luckily within a sight of this gas station, the same tire blew again, and again and again. One time it had two flats at the same time. Having used my own and Steve’s spare tube, plus both my patches, the Peruvian guys took pride in trying to make sure the tire was fixed permanently.

Behind the plateau the gas station was on, along the ocean, was the most unusual thing I had seen in a while – wetlands. Maybe a half mile wide and a few long, it was filled with soggy grass and used for sheep and goat grazing. Some of it was fenced off.

After the extended tire hassle (these guys have some unique ways of fixing flats) the thing seemed to hold air, but I lost confidence. Another flat in the remaining 30 miles of desert would not have been fun. Without Eduardo and Steve, I decided to wait 1-1/2 hours for the 4PM bus to Ilo. A taxi came along and I took him up on an offer to drive me to the outskirts of Ilo.

When I arrived, no one was yet at the VIP Hotel, our designated meeting place,. Eduardo was still MIA and Steve missed the turn to the main plaza where the hotel was. I checked in, found a clothes store and just as I was about to purchase civilian clothes, my walkie-talkie cracked to life with Eduardo saying “Hey Guys, We are the Bus.� Steve showed up soon too.

Ilo, Peru is another hardworking port city, like Tocopilla, Chile – only a bit nicer. Here’s our hotel and my room view. It is one of three duty free ports for landlocked Bolivia in Peru and Chile We walked around town looking for a map of Peru (no luck) and I took pictures of some local occupations.

That’s Steve and Eduardo crossing the street in opposite directions. The cigarette lady’s kid was very happy to have his picture taken – I wish I could go back and give him a copy.

Not wanting to eat at our hotel (which was completely empty though the guidebook said it was the most refined food in town) we ate tough meat and dried potatoes, and drank warm beer at an otherwise nondescript local little restaurant. Then we went back to the VIP, had some wine and bizarre dessert thing and slept.

Gracias y Saludos

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *