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Arica, Chile

Arica, Chile

This was the 3rd overnight bus in less than a week. I have made some really good decisions in my lifetime, this was not one of them. Tonight was Hell. On. Earth!!

The guy seated next to me was gordo. The armrest was putting a serious indent into his fat. To his credit he did not smell like BO. However, I was transported back to High School when I would be one of 2 girls crammed in a car full of boys who did not yet grasped the nuances of using cologne to attract. The man used the same technique with his cologne: pour entire bottle on body. I COULD NOT BREATHE! Thank God I had opted for the aisle seat to gasp for fresh air and avoid being crushed alive.

Can’t fucking sleep! Can’t fucking sleep! Can’t fucking sleep!

Some of my friends have called me brown on the inside, meaning that I behave at times like an Indian for my love of Ganesha and Bhangra, penchant for spicy dal and ability to sleep anywhere. Generally, buses, no problem. I had woken up early enough today to theoretically allow me to pass out.

My body was pinging like pins and needles. Was this what Restless leg syndrome feels like? It was like I was a dog who did not get a taken out for a walk. Energy radiating needing an outlet. I tried flexing, holding and releasing which sometimes helps. It did not. Even though my body was humming I was also exhausted. More like drained. Plus my damn brain was on overdrive.

Think.Think. Think. Stop thinking!

To try to stop the thoughts I tried breathing and meditating. It did not work. The monkey in my mind was out of control! I was having flashbacks of trying to meditate my first few days at the Ashram in Neyyar Dam, India. The monkey had amused me then, but not now.

Speaking of India, I was feeling like I did the final days of my 3 intense months there. Before India, the plan was to go to either China or Indonesia afterward. The plan changed, I bonked from 8 months of travel and from being emotionally drained after leaving my ex in India. I told myself, the next “long” trip, would not be longer than 4 months and if I had a travel partner, s/he would not be a psycho.

However, I was traveling with a psycho: ME! I was the crazy bitch wearing myself out. I was the “brilliant” person who said “Why not?” to another overnight bus, myself and I did not override me. Also, I broke my pact with myself. I had been on the go since January: 124 days away from San Francisco passing through 10 countries. Sometimes, I have to much excitement for life. I need a people like Jen Mac to step up and say, “Simmer down Chica!!” or as my brother would say, “Stop it!”

Was I ready to add a new conquest to the list? I did not want to just check a box. Bolivia was not looking good. Shit! One of my best buddies, Alex, had just landed in Bolivia. I would feel like the shittiest friend bailing. Maybe having a buddy would help recharge my batteries. In the meantime, I hoped music would help to soothe this savage beast with some funky beats.


Once the bus pulled into Arica at 6AM, I walked 2 blocks to another “recommended” hotel, Sunny Days. It either no longer existed or the address was wrong. This time, I was unfazed and returned to the bus station for a taxi to take me to my back-up option, Arica Surf House. They were full due to the upcoming Surf Competition.

My taxi driver took me to another place, Hotel Lynch. They let me in and gave me a private room con baño compartido for only 6 Mil CLP. It was still dark, my room reminded me of a hotels in India beautiful marble floors but rigged hardware. My door was crooked and needed special attention to shut.

I was just happy to get a bed with minimal drama. It was 6:30AM and was finally ready for a good night’s sleep. Instead of an alarm waking me up midday, a tremor woke me up. Fortunately, if there was a threat of a tsunami, at least I was a few blocks inland and on the third floor.

Not only was I feeling battered, so were my clothes. I dropped off a hefty load at the lavanderia.

Usually, I do not follow food advice in the LP. I just check the food suggestions to find out if there are any unique dishes. However, every once in a while something interests me enough to scope out. India was on my mind and I was wearing a dress to match the mindset. Rumor had it that there was an Indian restaurant dishing out cheap vegetarian plates. Yep, rumor had it!

Disappointed, I wandered streets and alleyways. I passed fresh fish market and saw what reinetas looked like whole. The vendor even used the fish to mime the name. Ha! Tempting but I was not feeling fish today. There were a few places that had counters serving up Completas (hotdogs with a hefty helping of mayo, avocado, tomate y cebolla) I grabbed a seat for a jugo natural.

Arica is the stop off for travelers coming from Peru and Bolivia. It was a crossroads of sorts. Indeed it was for me. I was only 9 hours from La Paz, Bolivia and my buddy and only 1.5 hours from the Peruvian border. I had no desire to move. It was official: I have BONKED!!!

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