Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Arica 8.9.2009

Another adventure has begun. It was hard to leave Santiago but i said all my goodbyes and the pain was lessened a bit knowing I would meet Rita here in the North and have good company for the initial stage of my trip. A transfer picked me up at 1:40am and I somehow managed to stay awake to get on the 4am flight! Now I am waiting in the bus terminal - it is just as well I am meeting Rita because after a largely sleepless night, aliens could touch down and ask for directions and it wouldn´t seem odd. Most of the interactions I have had this morning involve me staring incomprehensively as if they are speaking a foreign language.... Of course, the size of the backpack i am lugging makes them think I´m just another dumb gringo tourist who doesn´t speak spanish and their impatience is tinged with that condescending contempt especially and universally reserved for such species. My backpack. In spite of my firm intention not to fill the spacious 60litres, I somehow managed to make it weigh 17 kilos, and with enough junk left over to fill my small daypack. It´s a mystery how - there´s not much in there, a few clothes, both winter and summer, my sleeping bag ad a pair of old sheets, a small hospital and a small pharmacy (involving a first aid kit chocked with evereything I could think of needing , large quantities of vitamins, garlic pills, and anti-malarials, vitamins, and more vitamins...am I paranoid about my health?) Going into the Amazon jungle, I sure am paranoid about mosquitos! I have thus obtained every method I can find including this with obscure and random anecdotal evidence, to avoid being bitten. The strategy involves swallowing large quantities of garlic and vitamin B1 tablets to make my sweat smell bad and scare the critters off. There are two potential alternative disadvantages to this. One is I usually don´t sweat much and therefore it won´t work (but lets see what happens in the steamy tropical jungle) and two is that if it does ork, it will also scare off my fellow travellers! As Plan B I have a small stock of essential oils, - basil, geranium, lime, which odours are said to be repugnant to mozzies. But i can just imagine the little wrigglers wrinkling their nose in disgust and then biting me anyway! Then I have two pots of ´mentholatum´, which the Chileans swear by, which is a moxious mixture of menthol and camphor. In case none of the above work I have good ol´Tropical Strength Aerograd from Australia (but I´m desperately hoping that stuff doesn´t go out of date!!) A more serious biological weapon ( we are talking DEET at industrial waste levels) turned out to be impossible to fin in Santiago in the half day allocated to the mission and I am (probably futilely) hoping to find some en route to Mozzie-land.

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