I have taken quite a break from technology since leaving Moab. Preparing for my departure to Peru, experiencing the adventure of the trip, reintegrating since returning, moving up to Montana, and going on our annual trip to West Yellowstone has filled my time. The weather is a bit chilly today, and it feels like the time to write again.
I’m not sure where to start on telling the story of Peru, but I want to share the gifts I received through this great adventure. The story will come, but I need to ensure that I preserve the special meaning of what I experienced.
The travel itself was quite an adventure. We were up 43 hours from the time we were picked up by a taxi in Salt Lake City until we went to bed in our cabinas in Jaén, in northern Peru. We flew on the milk run stopping in Dallas, San Salvador, Lima, and finally Chiclayo. After about 8 hours in Chiclayo shopping in the Witch Market and trying to sleep in the Bus Depot, we took a 6-hour ride on a double-decker bus through the Andes to Jaén.
The bus was really nice (Mercedes-Benz with comfortable seats and panoramic views from our upstairs front seats), but our driver was psychotic. More than once oncoming cars had to vacate the road for our rather large bus that was more than doubling the speed limit and passing on blind curves. This ride brought out PTSD symptoms from my memories of my own car wreck years ago. I told my friends that I was done with the front seat riding in these buses!
Once in Jaén we had to get moto-taxis to the place we were staying outside of town. There were 8 of us, so we needed 4 taxis (3-wheeled motorcycles with room for two passengers and luggage sitting on a rear shelf).
It was late at night and dark in the town full of motorcycles, moto-taxis and a few cars. Luckily we had two Spanish speakers with us, one of whom knew where we were going. He got in the first taxi, and I was in the last with one of the other guys in our group. After only a couple of blocks, the taxi in front of us had to pull over as a backpack strap had jammed in the moto-taxi chain. We pulled over with them, but the two taxis in front did not see us stop and off they went into the darkness. Luckily we were left with the other Spanish-speaking friend.
Our drivers took off after fixing the taxi, and I noted my driver kept looking behind us with a nervous look on his face. I looked back and saw we were being followed by two men on a motorcycle. In another block, our drivers pulled up to a security gate leading into a residential area. They started speaking to the guards. Our friend interpreted that our drivers were not sure of where to go and that it was too dangerous to continue. They feared we were going to be robbed (men on motorcycle following us). The police were finally summoned to escort us. They arrived in a midsized pickup with about 6 cops standing in the bed and another bunch in the double cab that had windows covered with rebar caging. Where in the world was I?
Once the cops realized us gringos were not the criminals, they agreed to escort us. After two blocks, the cops were still two blocks behind us and we were stopped by a commotion in the street – our other friends. They had been told that we had been robbed and were trying to figure out how to get to us. It seemed the town had made an announcement that gringos had arrived and everyone came out to see. The cops arrived and insisted then that we ride in their truck. The four of us girls were stuffed into the cab and the four guys got in back with our bags and the cops. A nice old man stood outside my window telling me in aggressive Spanish that I was never to get in another moto-taxi and to only get in a car with protection over the windows. What a soothing welcoming! Finally we arrived at our destination, had a snack, and were shown to our cabinas – small, dark, dirt-floored, thatch roofed, single cabins. After being up for 43 hours (a record for me), I tucked myself into my comfy bed covered in mosquito netting and fell fast asleep.
Next time I will discuss the ceremonies that followed through the next 10 days…