Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Guatemala

Thursday, April 25, 2024

Very nice encounter with Peruvian Dad: Stories from A to Z

 The free breakfast at the Arica hotel was the best one yet. They had scrambled eggs, delicious bread with real butter, orange juice, bananas, yogurt and a variety of cold cereals. We ate our fill with plenty of time to enjoy breakfast, shower, pack up our stuff and then catch a cab to the bus depot for the border crossing. 

We weren’t sure how it worked, except that I knew Arica was on the Chile side and Tacna on the Peru side. Turned out there was no need for concern since a complete, orderly system was already in place. 

We only needed our passports ready and to say we wanted La Frontera, and workers moved us from place to place with the right paperwork in hand. They guided us to a taxi with several other people also going to immigration. 

It was a ten-minute drive to the immigration station out in the middle of desert nowhere, between the towns of Arica and Tacna. 

Our cab driver parked and led us to the building where people were lined up two or three deep. Our fellow passengers went one direction, while the driver told Forrest and me to wait. We watched as he walked toward the mass of people lined up. 

Forrest said, “Is he actually going to wait in the line for us?” The other passengers had taken their bags and gotten in one of the lines. 

Feeling confused, we moved up closer to the lines without getting in one or the other. The driver had disappeared inside the building, and we felt deserted and confused. After about twenty minutes of this, I saw the driver again. “I’m going to check in with him,” I said to Forrest. 

The driver confirmed that yes, we needed to wait there. 

Finally, our man appeared again and gestured to come and follow him. He led us past the lines into the building to a short wait inside for “internacional.” That was us. We had to put our luggage through customs where they confiscated the oranges Forrest had brought to eat on the bus to Arequipa. 

Like most men when they make a mistake, he felt embarrassed. “Oh, man, I should’ve known I couldn’t bring fruit through customs!” 

The clerk who checked our passports asked how long were we staying in Peru. Forrest spoke up with his new Spanish skills and said sixty days. The clerk marked us both down for exactly sixty days. 

This was Forrest's second mistake, although we didn’t realize it until later. Today was July 9, and our flight from Santiago was not until the end of September, several weeks longer than sixty days. 

After customs, we were directed back outside the building, where we saw our driver over by the taxi. The others were also gathering at the cab. Forrest and I made our way back with great relief having completed this stage of the process.

 After reloading everyone’s luggage and seeing us all back in the cab, the driver took us through a gate, where he showed the appropriate paperwork along with all the passports. Then he drove us on to Tacna, another twenty minutes away. 

Finally, we were in Peru! I had gone to Chile and stayed in a bunch of places and now I was in Peru! 

Tacna seemed like a large town, or medium-sized city, as we drove through it toward the bus depot. Along the way, the cab driver dropped passengers wherever they asked. 

As we gathered our luggage and paid our driver, an older man came right up, grabbed our things and beckoned for us to follow. This man was about the size and age of Bruce, even looking rather like him only without the gray hair. He had a slight difficulty in walking similar to Bruce. His knees or his back probably hurt him. 

Forrest and I looked at each other and grinned. “It’s Dad meeting us in Peru!” said Forrest. 

The man led us to a window, asked us where we were going then told the clerk “Arequipa” before we could catch a breath. "Espere," I said. I need an ATM before buying the ticket.

He took me over to the ATM while Forrest arranged for the tickets, then I came back and paid cash for them. The bus was leaving soon, so Peruvian Dad guided us toward the waiting area, but first he pointed to the restrooms. How did he know that was just what I needed? He and Forrest waited with our luggage until I returned. 

Now that we were set up, Peruvian Dad asked for money. Forrest gave him the amount he asked for plus a tip. He had taken excellent care of us, and this was money well spent and freely given.

Good ol’ Peruvian Dad. We thanked him and said goodbye as he limped off quickly to go help someone else.


  1. Interesting that most of your interactions with cab drivers were so positive - and the same thing with the buses you booked. I look forward to your remaining posts to see how the trip ended, due to your comment about miscalculating the amount of time you were intending to stay in Peru.

    1. Alana, In every Latin country I have ever been to, cab and bus drivers have been very helpful and the best source for information about an area.

  2. I had to laugh when I got to the part about the oranges. I can relate. When my husband and I traveled once, I found a fallen branch from a palm tree. There are no palm trees where I live. I'd seen them in Nevada and California, but something about this one coming from across the ocean made it more enticing to me. I hauled that thing around from tourist spot to tourist spot all day, and already had a place picked out for it in my house. Mentally, it was mine.
    I never gave customs or of any hassles that might arise bringing something home a thought. My husband, of course, knew the whole time that there was no way I'd be allowed to bring that "foreign" branch into the states. He said nothing, anxiously awaiting when he could last watching me argue that I found it, I loved it, and that it was mine and therefore it was coming home with me, and that was that.
    Apparently foot stomping doesn't work in other countries. :-)

  3. thecontemplativecat here You are a brave traveler! I love how you showed your love of traveling.

  4. A little kindness from strangers goes a long way.

  5. Wow! You are an amazing traveler! (I love exclamation points.) I've never been to South America although my husband and son went to Peru while I was still teaching. My son and then girlfriend spent months going all over S. America. You are truly an intrepid explorer and I admire you for it.

  6. Hi Karen - it did sound like you had a good time here ... so pleased for you - cheers Hilary

  7. Hi Karen. Your travel tales have a strong pull, probably because of the ease with which your reader can tag along. And I loved the 'Peruvian Dad' bit. Happy writing.

    Arpita @


Comments are welcome!