BootsnAll Travel Network

Last Days of the Tour

I joined Justin to go volunteer at a school out in the countryside near Cusco. After taking a share taxi, then a tuk tuk (motorcycle pulling a cart basically. I don’t know what they are called in South America), and walking through some fields, we arrived at the schoolhouse. The school had about 25 kids attending it. The ages ranged from 7 or so and younger. When we arrived, it was recess. The lone teacher was outside with the kids who were running around the yard screaming and playing with various dogs and chickens. We immediately joined in. It always amazes me how open to the public schools are in the developing world. No one bats an eye when strange foreigners come walking in from a field and start playing with the kids. In the US the schools are like prisons. I believe the teacher may have known Justin though. We spent sometime playing soccer, being used as mules, and for a while I was a train conductor. They loved having their pictures taken and looking at them on the camera screen. When recess was over, the lone teacher informed us that the other teacher wasn’t coming back for the day and basically left us with a room full of kids to teach while she went back to her classroom. They had been working on writing their vowels so we spent some time helping them with that. Every fifteen minutes or so we had to stop and let the kids get up and dance and sing or they would lose focus. In the afternoon when the school let out, we had to walk a long ways down the road before a car passed that could pick us up. Justin, the teacher, myself and two kids from the class got in the car and rode to the bus stop which was quite a ways away. The two kids who were with us must have been only six or seven and they sometimes walked a few hours each day by themselves to get to and from school.

In the evening most of the people in my tour group decided to go out as it was one of the girl’s birthday. We started at a bar on the main square that was having a happy hour. They had a two for one drink special but at first the prices still seemed rather hight until I order my two orange juice and vodkas. Each drink had over two shots of vodka in it with a hint of orange juice. We stayed here until about midnight listening to a local band which was very good. Despite being a local band, they only played older American or British music. No matter where I have been clubbing or bar hopping in the world, I have always found most of the music to be predominately American. Sometimes the dance clubs will play a lot of European techno. You can go to some local places to get away from this somewhat but not completely. Around midnight, a group of us left the bar for a dance club next door. Our tour guide accompanied us. He appeared to have already drunk himself into a state of delirium (much to my aggravation he appeared to have no hangover the next day. When ever I get in such a state I can’t hardly get out of bed the next day.) The dance club was very crowded. I stayed until about 2:30 am and then took a taxi back to the hotel.

I slept late the next day and then ate lunch with Justin at a local restaurant. After lunch I returned to the hotel to take a nap as I was still tired from the Inca Trail and the night out. When I woke up I learned that one of the guys on our tour hadn’t made it back yet from the previous night out. (It was now about 5:00 pm). He was 19 and traveling with his brother and mother. He had went home with a local girl he met and had not come back. His mother found this out late in the afternoon as his brother had been covering up his absence and finally confessed when his brother never came home. His mother of course got very upset. Our guide was gone on a full day mountain biking tour so another man in our group had went with her to the police station which turned out to be a big waste of time. At the police station, the policeman had no phone or paper on which to file a report. (This is the tourist police in Cusco which is Peru’s main tourist city.) The mother had to buy a phone card so the policeman could make a phone call on at a pay phone and took her statement on a scrap piece of paper. She had to sign the “statement” by placing her fingerprint on it. The policeman then said they could share a taxi with him back to the hotel since he was going that way. At the hotel, the policeman made it known that he didn’t have any money so they had to pay the fare. While this was going, those of us at the hotel were trying to figure out what else we could do. Someone of us were going to go to the bar and ask if any of the staff knew anything. While we were discussing it, the 19 year came strolling through the doors. It was now about 6:00 pm and apparently he had slept through the day and just woken up. We got him to come with us and went down to the police station to find his mother. When we couldn’t find her, I called the hotel and learned that she had already returned and had been informed that her son was safe. We returned to the hotel and the three of them (mother and the two sons) went off to sort things out. As it was the last night of the official tour, later we all went out as a group for a final supper.

With the tour ended, I checked out of the hotel the next day and took all my things to Justin’s apartment. There we made the final preparations for our next week of traveling around. Justin, Lucia, and I would be traveling to some remote Native Peruvian communities as Lucia had to go to visit them for work. She works for a company that exports and buys native woolen textiles. Some of the dimensions on some of the more recent products were wrong and she needed to go to these communities to meet with the weavers to correct the mistakes. There are no phones or electricity in these communities so the only way to communicate with them is to go in person.

In the evening, Justin and I took a share taxi to Calca where we met up with Lucia who was already there for work. Calca is a small town situated around a series of squares. It is located in what is known as the Sacred Valley in Peru. This area is full of old Incan towns and farms. We met up with a Canadian girl who Lucia knew through her work who was supposed to join us for the next week, but she ended up being too sick to come as the accommodations and modes of transportation were going to be fairly primitive over the next few days. She did share our room as we ended up in a room with four beds. We were originally going to check out the local discotheque in town. Because we had to get up at 4:30 am to hitch a ride in the back of truck the next morning, we eventually decided against it and just went to bed.

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