Beginning the Journey: Arica, Chile

If what you are following, however, is your own true adventure, if it is something appropriate to your deep spiritual need or readiness, then magical guides will appear to help you. […] Your adventure has to be coming right out of your own interior.  If you are ready for it, then doors will open where there were no doors before, and where there would not be doors for anyone else.  And you must have courage.  It’s the call to adventure, which means there is no security, no rules.

–Joseph Campbell, A Joseph Campbell Companion

I have said to many friends that my backpacking trip throughout Chile, Argentina, Peru, and Ecuador was blessed with luck.  I felt like I was connected to the flow of my life and that the universe provided me with support and guidance, as long as I trusted the journey and reminded open to all the possibilities of my trip.

As I read this quote recently, it struck me that perhaps I am finally living my “true adventure.” I had wanted to do this trip for 10 years, and I had always found an excuse to not do it.  But after allowing myself to change during my year volunteering, I was completely ready to embrace the experience.

I left Lima on July 1, 2013 on a 20-hour bus ride to Tacna, Peru.  I used this time to sort through pictures, read my guidebooks, and adjust to the giant change in my lifestyle. As the hours passed on the bus, the other passengers and I began to chat, particularly because the girl sitting in the row behind me was an American from Oklahoma named Haylee.  She had also been living in Lima, and was doing what is known as a “border run”: crossing the border for one day to then re-enter and get another six-month tourist visa. Like me, she had been volunteering in Peru and had fallen in love with the country (unlike me, she had also fallen for a Peruvian, which is why she still lived in Lima!).

I had read some troublesome reports about crossing the border on the Peruvian side, as this is usually where people try to trick you and cheat you, so I was happy to have some people to join me for this endeavor.  One of the Peruvian women on our bus served as our guide and helped us find a shared taxi for the drive to Arica, Chile. In the end, crossing the border was simple, straightforward, and well-organized, as long as you knew how to get to the international bus terminal.

First impressions of Arica, Chile

When we arrived to Arica (which is about a 20 minute drive from the Peru-Chile border), Haylee and I made our way to Hostal Sunny Days, a friendly, cozy hostel with an amazing breakfast, located near the beach, making it ideal for surfers.  Even though we were tired from the overnight bus journey, Haylee only planned to spend one night in Chile so we headed out to explore.

Views from Arica, Chile

Being in Arica reminded me of being in southern California, with palm tree-lined streets and blue skies everywhere.  The biggest shock after one year in Peru was that people actually stopped for pedestrians in the crosswalk.  Chile really felt like another world!

Main Plaza in Arica, Chile

After wandering throughout the streets of Arica for the afternoon, we saw that the sun was about to set and rushed back to the coast to watch.

Sunset in Arica, Chile

Arica is known for its gorgeous sunsets and sunny weather, and this day was no exception.  It was a beautiful start to my amazing journey.  We headed back to the hostel to rest, as I had an early morning start to my tour of the Parque Nacional Lauca.  Of course, it was also time to socialize with other travelers and to listen to their stories and get inspired. 🙂

[July 2, 2013: Arica, Chile]

How is it possible that a year has already passed?  I’m trying to post about my trip in the order that it happened, roughly around the same dates, just one year later!  It’s a fun way for me to relive these memories and to share them with you!

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