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Gianni Truvianni’s Bus Trip From Tacna, Chile to Lima, Peru - I

Author: Gianni Truvianni

Go to: Part II - Part III

It happened in late September of 92, while I was in Buenos Aires that I decided to go back to Lima, Peru from where I knew I would go back to the United States but only after having captured that part of Peruvian life I had yet to really see.

The part I make reference to is those shanty towns which in Spanish or at least in Peru are referred to as “pueblos Jovenes”, which if literally translated in to the English language would be “young towns”. This an expression which to a certain extent is kinder then the one coined in English, which implies more or less extreme poverty. While the one in Spanish or from Peru ( I am not aware weather or not this expression is used in every Spanish speaking country) suggests that the town is “young” and by virtue of which is still in stages of early development; justifying a lack of certain facilities such as running water or electricity. Of course from a technical point of view we could say that every major city at one point was a settlement that eventually turned in to perhaps a metropolis.

By then I had been in South America, a little over a year and decided after having visited places like Curacao (a Dutch island located off Venezuela’s coast), Chile and Argentina that it was time to head back to the States but rather then catch a flight directly from Buenos Aires to New York, I would take the bus from Buenos Aires to Lima. From Lima, I would catch a flight to Miami and go the rest of the way by bus, me being short of money at the time. However this only after having spent sometime in Lima; getting all those shots I had not during my first few months there, this the time in my life in which I was involved heavily in photography.

It was in early October that I entered Peruvian territory, actually not by bus but in a shared taxi (with five other people) as strangely enough or perhaps not so much so there is no bus (or at least not at the time) which actually goes from Santiago to Lima but one that limits itself to taking passengers across the boarder, which means from Arica in Chile (which at one moment in history was a part of Peru) to Tacna in Peru. This last city being one that actually changed hands twice; first being Peruvian and then Chilean then back to Peru again. All of which happening after the war Peru and Bolivia lost against Chile, which lead to both countries loosing a good deal of their land. Bolivia arguable having more taken away, as they were forced to give up their connection to the Pacific ocean.

Once in Tacna, I hooked up with a blonde man from Argentina who happened to be on his way back to Venezuela. This, the place he and his Venezuelan wife had come to call home, given it was where he had found a job in that country’s ever lucrative oil industry. Tacna, as many may know is a city in a providence of Peru which also bears the same name, that in all truth has very little to offer anybody, specially a tourist however this city does receive a lot visitors given it’s being what is commonly known as a “Free Port”. This being a place where goods are sold cheaply given they never really entered the country, meaning import taxes were never added to their price.

It is this factor that lends cause to many Peruvians, travelling a whole day by bus to an otherwise small, dirty city
in the middle of the desert, for it is there that they fill up with goods to take back and above all sell in Lima, needless to say at a higher price. Of course there are those that travel by plane from Lima to Tacna, as I had done on my way there but these would be tourist which this place does not really attract all that many unless they wish to catch a connecting flight to Bolivia or Chile or Argentina. There are even those who make the trip by car but these are few for I found out that it is actually cheaper, for those Peruvians seeking to do business in Tacna to travel by bus then by car, usually from Lima.

In all that concerns travel between Tacna and Lima or vice versa, one can discard the train option for it simply does not exist, not only between these two cities but any in Peru; save Lima and Cuzco. Though I imagine the train would not have been all that more comfortable or faster even if there had been one.

Once in Tacna and seated next to each other on the bus bound for Lima, my newly acquired traveling companion from Argentina and I were able to see clearly what this trip; which I was taking for the first time, though not he was going to be all about. I having flown from Lima to Tacna, when time was what I had less of while money more of was saved the experience. Naturally, it would not have been the same. This because when people went from Lima to Tacna they did not take much in the way of luggage with them but it was the other way around. It was the Tacna-Lima trips were the busses were loaded to maximum capacity given that all these “travelling merchants” brought back with them all their goods, which literally filled the bus to the point where one could not take two steps in the aisle without having to go around or over somebody’s luggage.

This being the case since the bus companies set no limits on how much one could actually transport on these busses which resulted in the roofs of the busses being stacked almost two meters high, while the carry on compartments were also jammed pack as well as the overhead ones. There were some who even travelled the whole way standing; as they preferred to volunteer their seats so there Pioneer stereo might travel in comfort. Fortunately, in all this I was spared from having to travel with any livestock, given that Tacna did not really offer any.

Naturally, as always Peruvian bus companies; always in an attempt of being considerate to their passengers tried to install as many seats on the bus as possible which was awfully descent of them in wanting to take as many as possible even if it meant removing the toilet, so this might be accomplished. Yes, the toilet was sacrificed from these types of busses that normally have them, so two more paying passengers could make the more then 24 hour trip. For all things considered even in Peru, it would be hard to find someone willing to pay for a seat in the toilet.

Go to: Part II - Part III

About the Author My name is Gianni Truvianni, I am an author who writes with the simple aim of sharing his ideas, thoughts and so much more of what I am with those who are interested in perhaps reading something new. I also am the author of the book entitled “New York's Opera Society ” which is now available on Amazon.

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