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Escape from Cusco (2nd attempt)

PERU | Tuesday, 28 October 2008 | Views [1697] | Comments [2]

We spent a lovely (what we hoped was our) final afternoon in Cusco, looking at the parade, visiting the Inca Museum and generally wandering around. We have a lot of very fond memories of Peru - the people are amazingly welcoming and quite interested to hear about your thoughts on their country.

One of my favourite memories was of seeing a wedding, actually a few weddings coming out of and entering the cathedral in Cusco. It had just started to rain and the groom was helping the bride up the steps and the photographer was trying to arrange a nice photo. All the while a cute little Page boy, all dressed up in a suit and tie and looking very smart was taking what looked to be a much needed wizz from the top of the cathedral steps right down to the bottom. The bride, groom and photographer didn't seem to notice or care - we were the only people to even find something unusual!

So we made our way to the bus station again, hoping that this time we might have some luck and actually make it it out of Cusco. Allegedly a group of government ministers were in negotiation with the group pretesting in Sicuani. There was one company selling tickets for a bus that left at 10.45 and as we were about 4 hours early I suggested we hang on a while and see what other options present themselves. Just as it seemed as though that was the only option, something happened. Tons of people now started shouting "Puno!" (our destination) and they were cheaper and leaving earlier and would take less time to get there. Sounded pretty good so we went for that option. It all seemed a bit chaotic but that´s S America for you!

As the departure time approached we went outside to wait with the crowd, mostly locals, a few gringos. 9pm came and went and then suddenly the bus appeared and pulled into the slot, almost knocking 2 tourists packing bags onto another bus over. Not exactly a good omen. About 10 minutes later, with no sign of any boarding type activity a head popped out of a window and shouted that the bus would not be leaving. All hell broke loose, the locals banging furiously on the door and window and demanding answers, refunds etc etc. Once the main mob of angry people cleared I started asking people why and what to do. One answer came back that the driver was drunk (!!!) and the general consensus seemed to be to try to get a refund. So I battled my way into the crowd in front of the desk and tried a slightly different approach from the locals - patience and courtesy. It worked. Within a few minutes I had the spondooliks back.

By this time we had made acquaintances with the other gringos, who it turns out had paid more than us (perhaps as a result of not speaking Spanish). I went back into the crowd to see if I could get a refund for them and something I really wasn't expecting happened. A really angry Peruvian barged in and started shouting obscenities and threats at the girl behind the desk. She shouted back and he responded by reaching across the desk and punching her full on in the face. She then vaulted over the desk and proceeded to pummel him with kicks and punches (she was a larger lady, whose nimbleness of foot took us all by surprise). Other staff and punters joined the fight as it wheeled around Cuscio bus station. Needless to say I stepped WAY back and let it all happen. About 10 minutes later, when the police got involved and some semblance of normality returned I went back and tried again. But apparently she had all the money and had now been arrested and the company could not give any more refunds until she came back. At least we got our refund in time!

So, what to do now after all that? Well we decided to stump up for the original company. It was to be an 11 hour trip across dirt roads, completely avoiding the problem area (hopefully). It was not exactly a luxury bus. The place where the TV was supposed to be was a void, with a few bits of transistors etc. Time for some sleeping pills methinks. It was a really nasty journey, and a little scary at points (Claire tells me, I managed to snooze through most of it thanks to Diazepam.)

At one point the bus was halted by a group of protesters and shouted at. We paused for about 40 minutes, quiet as mice and eventually moved on after what seemed to be some sort of negotiation with the bus driver. It started to get really cold, scarves, gloves, blankets started coming out but all our stuff was in the trunk. Had a wee break at about 5 am in the freezing cold and it was an opportunity to get the big blanket. Finally it had a purpose! 12 hours 46 minutes and 32 seconds later we pulled into Puno. What a relief! Many people had advised against staying here (Lake shiticaca etc) so we went for a dazed lunch (with the other gringos from the bus station, a forgetful American called Drew and an English couple, Tom and Erin.

After lunch we managed to find a bus to take us to Copacobana in Bolivia. Sorry to leave Peru but happy to be moving on to the relative peace and tranquility of ... Bolivia? Something wrong with that sentence but hey what can you do!!

Tags: bus, cusco, fight, puno



I'm from Michigan and would suggest you have respect for other cultures and their people. It's not called Lake SHITICACA, as you said.. it's TITICACA. I find the use of your term very unrespectful. And not every peruvian is trouble... you shouldn't go around generalizing about a few isolated events you witnessed or angry people you saw.

  Marian Jan 10, 2009 11:38 PM


Many thanks for your comment Marian.

Perhaps you should read on and see what I thought of the lake in my next entry, or read the rest of my blog for my observations of the reality of America Latina. I do not generalise, I tell it as it happens, warts and all (it is my blog after all). If you're from Michigan I don't see how you could even be offended but I apologise nonethless.

Perhaps you should take it, and my sense of humour less seriously ... there are many more important things in life to complain about than the random musings of a traveller.
Perhaps you should come and see what it's like for yourself... Keep reading!

  eoghancito Jan 11, 2009 10:55 AM

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