Tuesday, March 31, 2009

What we learned yesterday...

... is that Chileans don't really like Peru very much. The two fought an intense 4-year war in the late 19th century for control over the abundant nitrates in the northern desert surrounding the town of Arica, where we arrived yesterday after a short bus ride from Iquique.

Chile won the War of the Pacific in 1883 and gained control over this border region, but animosity between the two countries continued into the 20th Century and still exists today. Last night, the two countries battled in a football qualifier for the 2010 World Cup.

It's a good thing Chile won.

Our bus pulled into Arica just after the Chilean national team finished off a 3-1 victory over Peru (in Peru, no less), and the bus driver already knew. He honked his horn profusely as the cars aroud him did the same and the rest of the Arican locals took to the streets. Cars drove by waving Chilean flags, and other people left their homes to turn their car alarms on and join the cacophonic symphony. Eventually we figured out what had happened, and breathed a sigh of relief that a riot wasn't taking place.

As we wandered around some of the more seedy areas of outer Arica searching for a place to sleep, we counted our blessings that Chile came out on top. People seemed to want to drink beers with us rather than strangle-mug us, which surely would have happened had Peru won.

Spent most of the day today in internet cafes trying to figure out our apartment situation for New York when we have to re-enter the real world (barf), but ended up back at square one by the end of the day (due in no part to the efforts of Phil's brother, Nick, who is doing everything he can on the ground in NY to find a place for the three of us). So, we each bought bottles of wine so that we could play catchup and seize back some of the lost day. Tomorrow we plan on taking a bus across the border into Peru, where we will make our way to Cusco in preparation for our trek to Machu Picchu and a glimpse of its famous guinea pirates, guinea bees and the guineasaurous rex.

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