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Saturday, January 28th, 2006

The drive from Ayacucho to Andahuaylas was another bone-jarring 10 hours on rocky roads with incredible scenery. Not a lot of other traffic, but we did pass a combi van carrying human passengers within and canine ones above, safely encased in plastic bags.

overhead compartment

Met some more friendly police officers in Andahuaylas. We asked them where a particular hotel was, and they had us follow them straight to it. They wished us a good trip. Somehow we didn’t expect all the police in Peru to be so welcoming. What a nice surprise.


Tuesday, January 17th, 2006

The other day we began our journey from the shore of Peru, zero sea level, to the highest drivable pass at over 5,000 meters. That is about three times the altitude of Denver; serious altitude sickness territory. The road was well-paved, scenic, and lightly traveled for the first three hours.

near Huancavelica

Then we headed off the pavement at a town called Rumichaca. We have a good map of Peru which includes dirt roads so we were pretty confident of our location. There were a few forks in the road, and as Yogi Berra was reported to have said, we took them. We were doing well until the wrong town showed up in our windshield. We arrived in Castrovirreyna- but wait a minute. This town is all the way over here on the map. We still had about three hours of daylight, but who knows how much more driving there was.

We scrambled back to the last known point on the map; the little settlement of Santa Ines. When we arrived there we asked how to find our destination of Huancavelica. A group of about 15 guys gathered around the truck with longing eyes. They all wanted a ride. Uh, guys, there might not be enough room in here. Later.

Next fork we ask another guy. Surprisingly enough, he wanted a ride, too. It turns out he had run out of gas and wanted a ride back to his vehicle after getting gas in the current outpost village in which we found ourselves. He pulled out an ID card with a little badge to show that he was a police officer. Fair enough. Looked fairly real in a sort of worn out way. Plus, there was another guy who had given him a ride from his stuck vehicle and he looked to still be in good condition.

The policeman turned out to be an excellent tour guide as well. He pointed out mines from the Spanish colonial era, he talked about the people of the region and shared his personal story.

When we finally arrived to his vehicle a couple of hours later, his cohorts approached our vehicle, one with his gun drawn and pointed in our general direction. I rolled down the window quickly and showed my hands as we slowed down. Apparently, twenty years of fighting with Shining Path members have put them on edge a little.

Just in case this little story concerns anyone about our safety traveling through Sendero Luminoso territory, we are now almost at the border with Bolivia. We had no other sketchy incidents, and in fact, because so few tourists checked out the sights during years of fighting between the military and Sendero Luminoso in this region, we had the opportunity to glimpse a part of Peru untouched by the cold, clammy hands of heavy tourism. We were universally welcomed with smiles and handshakes by people who were happy to see our tourist dollars as well as people who were not even remotely associated with tourism.

friends in high places

Kill Bill

Sunday, November 27th, 2005

chichen itza

Here's the pyramid known as El Castillo at Chichen Itza. We brought a laptop with us to manage the huge volume of photos we anticipated. After only a short time on the road ... [Continue reading this entry]