Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Guatemala

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Peru-bound: Stories from A to Z

Our overnight bus was a different line from what we had ridden from Santiago but just as luxurious. In a few moments, we would depart Coquimbo and head north

As the bus left town, the interior lights dimmed, people shut their curtains and went to sleep. My outerwear was a large, hooded sweatshirt and a long, hooded sweater. I used the sweater as a blanket and pulled the hood up over my head, nearly covering my face. We reclined our seats and slept through the night. 

I woke up right before dawn and watched the sky glow with subtle color changes until finally boom, there's the sun. I caught glimpses of the rising sun from the east-facing windows on the other side of the aisle.  

A young porter passed out trays with a large, wrapped “breakfast cookie” the label said, coffee or tea plus orange juice. 

As before, Forrest followed the map downloaded on his phone. The bus did occasional depot stops during the night and a few more in the morning. 

Around ten as we reached another city, Forrest said, “We’re here.” It had seemed like no time at all. I liked this traveling at night. A lengthy twelve-hour trip had gone by quickly and been quite comfortable. At the depot, Forrest called an Uber to take us to our hotel, a place I had reserved from during that Sunday at church with the Internet. 

Unfortunately, it was too early to check in. I asked if there were a place to leave our luggage, and the receptionist signaled to a corner of the rather small lobby, where he could keep an eye on them. 

We exited the hotel and I said, “Let’s go find the ocean.” We headed west in a rather convoluted pattern, not knowing the right streets to lead to the coast. It took about thirty minutes, but we found it, a rough coast with large boulders piled up. So unlike the sandy beaches of Coquimbo. We more or less followed the coastline until we came to a boardwalk and a shopping center. Perfect, because I needed a bathroom and Forrest wanted food. 

Not much was open yet besides the restrooms, nowhere to get breakfast. I got a diet Coke from a soda machine.

Back outside, we sat on a bench along the boardwalk looking out to sea. I drank my diet Coke, happy and refreshed, content with the company of my capable son and glad to have arrived at another city in Chile. 

Forrest was restless and ready to continue exploring the area. He could walk for hours, while I lasted about ninety minutes before needing to stop and sit down for a bit. I had no idea where we were in relation to the hotel, but Forrest seemed to. “Let’s head toward town,” he said. 

Walking with Forrest felt like going in circles, yet he always knew where he was headed. My method of exploring an unknown area was go in a straight line and then back the exact same way to avoid getting confused. He had no patience for my lengthy, straight-line method. “This way is shorter,” he would say. 

We continued toward "the center of town," according to Forrest. He needed food and traveled with purpose to find it. 

We came to the market district with more people on the sidewalks and vendors with open stands, but Forrest couldn’t find anything that looked good to him. We stopped at a stand selling locally made candy and picked out a selection for the vendor to bag up. 

Past the market area, we saw an open Subway. “Let’s go in here,” Forrest suggested. “At least it won’t be overpriced.” 

He ordered a sandwich, and I got another diet Coke. We sat at a table by the window and watched the people go by, taking our time since we couldn’t check in until noon. We ate a couple of the wrapped candies, which I liked more than he did. Candy and Coke for breakfast, not the healthiest choice but I wasn’t in the mood for a sandwich. 

"Antofagasta feels more like a Latin city than Coquimbo did,” I said. “I could live in a place like this. The hotel is reasonable, the prices seem normal, there’s a mercado and vendors on the streets.” 

“Yeah, Chile has redeemed itself somewhat with Antofagasta. I went to La Serena a couple times for meetups, and it wasn’t that great either. Everybody raved about it, but it was essentially just a college town.” 

On the way back to the hotel, I stopped to buy several bunches of bananas. “I can eat these with peanut butter tomorrow when you’re gone,” I said. 

Forrest was leaving early for the Atacama Desert, where he would spend five days. I had tomorrow night in Antofagasta and then would take the bus to Iquique, where we would meet up before our final leg of the journey to Arica, a border city and our final stay in Chile. 


  1. Sleeping would get you through a 12 trip which for me would happen during the day. This is Ann.

    1. Ann, I so wish I could sleep through the day on a long trip but I can't!

  2. I am so often the driver, I've trained myself not to sleep when in a moving vehicle, but it does sound like a delightful way to travel.

  3. My husband can go anywhere, too, like Forrest, and find his way back from a new route. I'm more like you and have to trace my steps to get back to where I started from.

  4. I can get lost anywhere but always manage to find my way back.

  5. Hi Karen: "My method of exploring an unknown area was go in a straight line and then back the exact same way to avoid getting confused" - That's so me. Lovely to travel with your posts and thoughts.

    Arpita @

  6. Candy and diet coke - breakfast of champions!

  7. I could get lost steps from my door and I would also need, besides a straight line, breadcrumbs. I don't think Forrest would want to travel with me, lol. I'm a little surprised your previous lodging let you leave early without charging you for the rest of the stay (but maybe they did make you pay).


Comments are welcome!