December 03, 2003
On the Road Again
DAY 44: I bid a fond farewell to Navid when we left the hostel before eight in the morning. He hopped on a mototaxi which brought him to the airport for his flights to Cuzco. For the first time since I touched down in South America, I was alone again.
I ran into Ricardo again; he pulled up in his cab, trying to get a fare out of me, but I just politely told him no and ignored him. I walked around the streets looking for a place to get breakfast, passing the stores with signs clearly stating they won't accept counterfeit bills. I thought that would go without say, but then again, do you think employees would really wash their hands at a fast food restaurant unless there was a sign to do so?
Across the street from my restaurant was a bus company office with buses to Chiclayo, two major cities south, after Piura. I tried to get a ticket for a morning bus, but there wasn't one until 2:30 in the afternoon. With an eight hour ride, that would have put me at 10:30 at night, which I didn't want to do.
A shady guy off the street saw my confusion and told me about another bus company down the block with a bus leaving at 9:30 in the morning. He escorted me to the desk and argued to the clerk to give me the fare for 15 soles, instead of the usual 20. As the clerk wrote the ticket, he asked if I was Japanese, Chinese or Korean, and my hopes of trying to blend in as a Latino sunk again.
For his effort, Shady Man asked me for a sole "[for a Coke]" which I reluctantly gave -- but it was the only way to get rid of him.
I WAITED IN THE SMALL WAITING ROOM for the bus to come, just staring at the chairs. I swear that hour was the longest hour of my life, but perhaps it wouldn't have done well on Fox's 24 show.
Things picked up once the bus came and picked me and another guy up. We rode out of town, passing by small beach towns to pick up more passengers. The scenery changed dramtically along the way, from scenic ocean roads, to tropical fields with palm trees to barren deserts (picture above). At one point I saw a shepard with his flock of sheep.
The ride wasn't all postcard scenery. The Peruvian police were also a part of the ride. In less than an hour of departure from Tumbus, some cops pulled us over and searched the bus for contraband -- but let us go. Then, at a border crossing station between departments (states), everyone had to get off the bus and wait while a team of cops did a more thorough search of the bus, again to look for contraband. The cops hailed us over two other times along the way, but nothing really happened thankfully. The only real action came from the two Jean Claude Van Damme movies that the conductor played on tape, taped off of TV.
WE ARRIVED IN CHICLAYO BY FIVE in the afternoon. The thing about the buses in Peru so far is that they don't necessarily go to a designated station, and you are often just put in a random place on the map. I asked the guy across the aisle for some help, and he gladly showed me where to get off and pointed me in the right direction. I found the hostel I was looking for in no time and checked into a simple room with just a bed. I was hoping there would be some other travelers in a common area to meet up with like I had when I arrived in Quito -- which seems like ages ago -- but there were none, and I was still all alone.
I SPENT THE REST OF THE DAY exploring Chiclayo, including its main Plaza das Armes where there was an exhibition of kids' drawings called "Mi Amigo, El Policia." Hundreds of drawings were hung with kids' depěctions of cops directing traffic, arresting bad guys and standing under suns with smiley faces. There was not one drawing of a cop searching a bus for contraband. If the kids only knew.
I got lost in the city and always used the sanctuary of a church to catch my breath and pull out my map without drawing tourist attention to myself. If there's anything about South America, you can always find a church to help you out. I saw no gringos around, and it was clear that I was one of the few people exploring Northern Peru -- most people, including Navid and Pepe, skip northern Peru and fly straight for Lima and Machu Picchu.
I HAD A BIG HALF A CHICKEN that I couldn't finish and then vegged out in an internet cafe, looking up causes for the big rash and skin ulcers that had developed on the entire back on my right hand. I discovered that the jellyfish sting I had could have some long-lasting irritations and that my scar of the stinger might be permanent.
The computer lab attendant helped me out when I was trying to connect my Memory Stick adapter to the computer. With my confused looks and broken Spanish, she thought I was Brazilian with Portuguese as my first language -- perhaps it had something to do with that Portuguese Man of War.
Funny how itineraries can change... from the way things look, I am going to catch an early bus to Yurimaguas -- get a map! -- so I can start a really off-the-beaten-path trek to the city of Iquitos, deep in the Amazon. No roads go to Iquitos, it is only accessible overland via cargo boats on Amazon tributaries. I hope to survive it...and yes, I HAVE been taking my malaria pills!
This might possibly put me in a N.I.Z. for 4-5 days... You've been warned.
If I can get internet access before Iquitos, I'll be back tomorrow with the crazy story of what transpired today in "Tomb Raider"...
If you enjoy this daily travel blog, please post a comment! Give me suggestions, send me on missions, let me know how things are going back home in the USA. Knowing that I have an audience will only force me to make this blog more entertaining as the days go by. Don´t forget to bookmark it and let a friend know!
Posted by Erik
on December 3, 2003 07:00 PM
i have to catch up, but how do you like N. peru so far? speaking of 24, it was a pretty good episode... you know "It's a matter of National security", "I don't have time to tell you right now", "you're going to have to trust me"... you know how it goes. enjoy the day! nikkij :)
Be careful Erik. The policia and their constant searches make me nervous. So do all those shady ppl looking for a quick buck.
BTW u had me lookin up the men of war. I read their venom is almost as powerful as cobra venom. Nasty little suckers.
dude! cuzco rocks! I'm still getting used to the elevation- like being in quito the first couple of days. will probably do the inca trail once the coco leaf teas kick in! Ran into the french guy with dreads (silvan) & his guatamalan girlfriend (carolina) in tumbes airport- they were going to lima too & from there to iquitos- they're planning to atay there for about 2 weeks, so you may run into them somewhere. Today I changed my return ticket, so I'll be returning to cal on feb.2 which should give me more time in bolivia- see if we can hook up there. take care
RINA: yeah, the police make me nervous too... but i suppose i should just get used to it...that and the jellyfish rashes! grrr....
NAVID: yeah man, cuzco rocks, right? i love that place... cool, so i may run into sylvain and carolina...perfecto!
It never ceases to amaze me where-ever any traveler may be in the world, always finding a piece of America in it. 24 on the tubes down there, in the middle of nowhere?? Amazing.
Geez, you had a run in with a Man-O-War. My goodness. I don't even want to think of the pain associated with that...I got stung on my face by "harmless" jellyfish all throughout my last trip through Oz and I don't want to feel anything like that again.
Drive on, my Brother....
erik, don't sweat it man. Just remember, you are never alone.....just hop onto a computer and "aim" away.
Its amazing how much of the atmosphere we can pick up from your writings. So far Ecuador > Peru. I hope it gets better.
uh oh....more N.I.Z...doah.....i guess i'll just have to watch the little planes on the computer....
with that rash and your dishwashing extreme accident, you will never be a hand model again!
ok all....since erik will be gone for a little bit again, here's something else to keep you occupied:
markyt: That site is Hilarious!
Hey Erik - you're not alone - I'll be taking my MALARIA pills in a couple of weeks too (India - here I come)!
markyt has a point. you should take care of your hands. how are you going to blog and IM if you keep injuring them?
so, how long do you have to take malaria pills for?
Dude - You are in scaryville, be careful it sounds like you might get ripped off, and these police postings are stressing me out. How about Lake Titicaca (sp?) for the holidays? I found this info on the LP website:
Isla Taquile, a 24km (15mi) passage from Puno, is an enchanting island in Lake Titicaca. Its inhabitants dress splashily in traditional clothes (on sale at the local cooperative store), speak Quechua and maintain strong group loyalties. Pre-Inca terracing and small ruins dot the landscape and there are plenty of walks to keep you busy. The island is bereft of hotels, electricity, roads, vehicles and, importantly, dogs. Accommodation is provided by locals, while skimpy restaurants serve only what's available: fresh trout if you're lucky, boiled potatoes if you're not. Boats leave daily from the dock at Puno and take about four hours to reach the island.
I just went on my first trip to South America last week (Cusco, Inca Trail) I've been reading your site for a month or so now, I can't wait to read about Iquitos. I'm getting ideas from you for my next South America trip! So entertaining - keep it up.
you're missing out on the first snow storm of the season...snow angels for all...
So Erik I will be in Egypt late June. Will you be there or anywhere close by.
And regarding you being alone right now everyone here is travelling with you.
I had to look up the $ conversion to soles... that guy ended up with 30 cents (1 sole). I guess Cokes are pretty cheap in Peru. It doesn't sound so shady when you think of it in dollars.
Holy crap, the AMAZON!!! Wow! I wonder what the indiginous (Sp?) people will think when you turn up! If the folks in town think your Japanese, these folks may think you're from the Moon. Did you ever see that Sean Connery movie Medicine Man? Get some funky tribal tatoo... you could use a little ink.
finally, i'm all caught up ... only to find out you're on an N.I.Z. :(
north peru sounds a little sketchy..but that's half the fun of traveling!! have a good time in iquitos. yummy malaria pills.
can't wait to hear about it. was the amazon dressed in christmas gear?
I'm finally caught up with Peru. Be careful out there Erik. I look forward to your next BLOG from the Amazon!
Holy shit...I made it! Seasons greetings from the Amazon jungle! As expected, there is internet here.
Anyway, I've managed to make it here the "hard way" with my ass intact! (Details to come...)
I love stories where there's a "hard way" with asses intact ;) HEY YOU SAID IT NOT ME! what are the monkeys in the jungle like? Do they date birds?
Cannot wait to read your story!
Thanks all for the encouragement! Yes, I am never alone as long as there is readership...
CHERYL, MARKYT: Yes, Ive been taking care of my hands... the rash is almost gone now...the scar, as WebMD said, looks like it will be permanent...but it looks pretty cool...
I've been taking malaria medicine for about a month now...the recommendation was to do it for anything since Ecuador under 5,000 ft.
SHANNON: thats far, but I will make it there after the holidays!
CHRISTY: Funny, I blend in more here because the Peruvians have more Asian-looking eyes... from my vantage point THEY look like they are filipinos...
NEVEN: see you in egypt!
NIKKIJ: No monkeys or dating bird sightings yet...so far only pink freshwater river dolphins...but more to come when I leave the city and do a jungle trek in a couple of days...
LOVEPENNY: "aim"ing away isn't as easy as msn-ing away... for those who dare to switch...i'm on there more than aim since it doesnt crash as much...
Oooh! the Amazon! Is it like it was on Survivor? Just kidding.
Good to hear you made it there safely with your ass intact and almost rash free. Just think of all the stories you can tell about the time you were attacked by a vicious Portugese Man of War, tentacles were flying everywhere and you just barely escaped alive!! Then there is the kickass scar to show after. People will be Ooing and Ahing. haha
Have fun :)
Will you have a scar on your face like you have on your hand? If you do, you'll be like Harry Potter! ;)
Dewbie: Yes, it's actually a pretty kick ass scar...
Risa: Yes, just like Harry Potter... now i just need a Nimbus 2000.
Nimbus 2000's are so passe now! Didn't you see the second Harry Potter? haha
hahah...not every one comes from a rich wizard family like the malfoys....erik is just a mere mudblood like all of us....
Chicks dig scars, besides it makes a cool souvenir!
Erik, will you show me you scar???
I'm suddenly reminded of "My Cousing Vinnie" and the line "yeah, like you blend!" but you can't hear the accent in a post. Hehe.