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Off The Gringo Trail

PERU | Monday, 26 April 2010 | Views [931]

Hacienda La Florida, Tarma

Hacienda La Florida, Tarma

We have both been feeling kind of punk for a while.  I have eaten little solid food since dinner last Tuesday and Connie has been feeling queasy since Thursday.  She says it is equal parts altitude sickness, motion sickness and a head cold.  Hence, no journal entries.

To recap.  As if the minivan ride from Pillopata to Cusco wasn’t enough, we opted for the 22-hour, 1100 km bus trip from Cusco to Lima on Friday afternoon.  The twisting roads made the trip feel like sailing on stormy seas in a small boat.  We could have – should have – flown, and the bus trip went nearly as high as a plane.  Somewhere during the mostly sleepless night we crested a 16,000-foot pass.  This we know because we awoke gasping for breath.

We arrived in Lima around noon and crashed at our old hotel, Torre Blanca.  We rallied briefly to observe, not celebrate, our 16th anniversary at Chilis, a chance for some comfort food, even if it didn’t sit too well.  We were on the road again early Sunday headed northeast towards Tarma.  On a map it looks like we could have taken a direct shot from Cusco to Tarma but the roads are either non-existent or so terrible the Lima detour is not only more comfortable, it’s faster.

Why Tarma?  A small hummingbird, of course.  The marvelous spatueltail, we learned from a Discovery Channel episode, reportedly lives in a remote valley somewhere nearby.  And, depending on your sense of adventure (and direction) Tarma could be on the road to Pucallpa, our destination for Saturday.  Internet reports on the hummingbird were vague.  All the sightings were part of very expensive birding tours last November.  And no one we asked had ever heard of Santos Montenegro, the man who is running the conservation project to protect the little guy’s habitat.  Nevertheless….  No, we didn’t see the bird but we gave it a go.  We added a few new species to our list and we met lovely Denise at Hacienda La Florida, a nice place to stay if you ever find yourself in the area, lost no doubt.

The trip north to Huanuco (not to be confused with Huancayo, 200 km south) first requires a collectivo taxi, a Toyota Corolla (or similar, as the car rental companies say) shared among 4 or 5 people, to Cerro de Pasco with a change to another collectivo for another two hours to get to Huanuco.  To make matters worse, you don’t really want to be in Huanuco.  But enough is enough.  Both of our drivers attended the Clyde Crashcup driving school. Other cars we have hired looked like shrines with photos of saints and religious sayings like “Jesus es el Senor!” One driver even genuflected at especially hairy curves.  Not these guys.  The first kept a can of brake fluid in his cup holder although he hardly used the brake on the mostly uphill journey.  The second gave no quarter, even on the muddy roads as he splashed everything and everyone in sight.  Today we wished for a little of that old time religion.


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