Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Guatemala

Friday, April 26, 2024

WHY DID I SAY SIXTY DAYS: Stories from A to Z

 Forrest had selected seats near the front for a better view. The bus was okay; nothing as nice as the ones in Chile but they were also less expensive. First off, we opened our phone calendars and counted the days until this tourist visa expired. 

Looking rather loopy on the bus to Arequipa

Sure enough, we had cut ourselves short by two weeks. “WHY did I say sixty days,” Forrest moaned. “That’s only two months!” 

“I wondered about that.” 

“I hope we don’t have any trouble getting back.” 

“Oh, I doubt it. They’ll just charge us for whatever days we go over. That’s what they do in Guatemala and Mexico. It’s really not a big deal.” 

“I could just as easily have said ninety days. Noventa dias. NOVENTA. I know my numbers.” 

“Yeah, because tourist visas in Peru can go as long as one hundred eighty days. Six months, like Mexico. I don’t know why the guy had to put down the exact number of days stated. Why not just put one hundred eighty? That’s what they do in Mexico, and in Guatemala they automatically write it for ninety days.” 

I thumbed through my passport to find a record of those times his dad and I had crossed back and forth between Mexico and Guatemala. “I can’t tell from all the ink in this passport.” I gave up the search. “Anyway, we will be fine." 

“Sixty days!” he muttered before finally settling down to enjoy the bus ride and watch the great expanse of desert and dunes fly by. When we finally got past desert scenery and into the mountainous terrain of Peru, it was such a welcome change.

Passengers got off and on at stops along the road or at depots in towns. Once closer to Arequipa, the bus was crowded with passengers. Traffic had increased considerably, slowing us down until we were at a standstill in certain sections along the mountain road. 

Approaching the city, it was stop and go, stop and go, crawling along with lines and lines of vehicles on the narrow street coming through the hill into the city. I wondered if perhaps an accident up ahead blocked the way. 

Later, we learned that Friday is the worst day to travel from Arica to Arequipa. Since prices are so much cheaper in Peru, every Friday Chileans cross the border and drive to Arequipa for weekend shopping, dinner and entertainment. 

Other towns along the way, such as Tacna and Moquegua, are closer to the border but not as large and diverse as Arequipa. This was no accident or anything unusual, simply a typical Friday where a six-hour trip turns into eight hours. 

Forrest bought a snack from one of the vendors who came through the aisle during one of the depot stops. It was a quarter ear of corn on the cob with a piece of salty, white cheese lying on the top. I didn’t want anything, since the solid breakfast had kept me satisfied for hours. By seven, however, I was hungry. 

We finally arrived at the bus depot at nine-thirty. Seven had been my stated arrival time on our hotel booking. The bus pulled into the back area of the depot as they do. With relief, we disembarked then waited while our luggage was unloaded. At last, we passed through to the front of the depot where taxis generally wait. 

Sure enough, we easily got a cab, and I gave him the address. He wasn’t familiar with this hotel, named Estancia 107. He thought it was foolish to stay three weeks in a hotel we didn't know, and after my Iquique experience, I concurred.

 "It might not be a good place," he said. “You should stay only one or two nights, and if you don’t like it find another hotel.” Once in the neighborhood, it still took him awhile to find it, since it was located on an alleyway running between two regular streets. 

When he finally found the address and pulled up to Estancia 107, I thought it looked too much like a house. Could this possibly be right? But the girl at the front desk rushed right to the door, ushered us in, and seemed relieved to see us. The cab driver brought in my luggage—Forrest always took care of his own—and we were set. 

The girl took us to our room, a big room with two double beds and a sofa, along with two large cabinets for clothes and storage. The bathroom was separate, down the hall a short way, but she assured us it was private, only for this room.

Breakfast is free your first day, she explained, so in the morning be sure to get breakfast from 7 to 9. Other days, she said, it is seven soles per person. 

The dining area was roomy and centrally located. We had walked through it to get to our room. I planned most definitely to get up early for breakfast, as I hadn't eaten anything since Arica. That felt like a lifetime ago. 

After showing us the room and bathroom, telling us about breakfast, and giving us room keys and WiFi password, she wished us a good night and left us to fret over our sixty days.

Forrest zipped up in his sleeping bag like a mummy. This was how he slept in the Iquique hotel. In Estancia 107, he used the sheets as it was a clean hotel where they changed bedding daily. 

“I was such an idiot to say sixty days,” Forrest once again lamented. We were in our beds and trying to connect to the Internet, which wasn’t happening. “This better not be another Coquimbo situation with no WiFi in the building!” he yelled in frustration.

“Yeah, because look at this nice couch where I can sit and work, and we are here for three weeks.” 

Just mentioning time got Forrest going again. “I can’t believe I said sixty days!”

I started laughing and couldn’t stop. All I had to do was say “sixty days” and he responded with groans and carrying on about how dumb he was. And that would get me laughing even harder. 

It was like a game the older kids used to play with toddler Sean. Someone would say “fish bucket” and someone else would say “hahaha,” until they programmed this two-year-old to say hahaha whenever anyone said fish bucket. Everyone laughed which further cemented the programming; through the years, Sean at any age said hahaha in response to “fish bucket.”  Then a similar game between Forrest and me when he was a kid, where one of us would say “lamp” and the other “haircut” over and over, while I laughed hilariously, driving everyone else crazy because it made no sense whatsoever. 

We couldn’t seem to settle down between continuing to try the Internet to no avail and playing the sixty days game. His agony and carrying on about it, “what a bother, I can’t believe I did that!” was so unlike normally stoic adult Forrest that I had a hard time letting it go. 

Finally, giving up on the Internet, our conversation died down as we tried to fall asleep. But I couldn’t help piping up with “Sixty days” now and then to get him going again. 

We laughed about the sixty days. We laughed about the Internet. And finally, looking forward to breakfast in the morning, we fell asleep around midnight.


  1. It's hard to let go of a mistake . . . :-)

    1. True, jabblog, especially for the male of the species.

  2. I hope you had a great time and that the extra days didn't cost too much!

  3. Life happens. No internet could tip me over the edge after a longer day than usual on a bus and making a 60 day mistake. It's good you could get a good inside joke going. I love the fish bucket story. Older siblings.

  4. I hope all went well. I just looked up the exchange rate U.S. dollars to sol. A sol right now is 27 cents U.S. At least the breakfast wouldn't be expensive. Hopefully it was good.

    1. Alana, I had not checked the exchange rate in awhile! We did really well on our travel budget throughout Peru.

  5. You two sure are having lots of surprises, mishaps, and get a great adventure :-) You tell the story of it well.

  6. I love when I laugh so much that I can't stop.

    1. Me too!! Although it doesn't happen too often because I'm too often a serious sort of worried person.

    2. Nothing other than an anxious personality type. So it's wonderful to relax and laugh with people I love.

  7. Hi Karen - yes ... the 'stupidity' of the possible challenge just makes one laugh more - too true. Sounds like a fun time though - cheers Hilary


Comments are welcome!