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How John Almost Ruined the Trip

PERU | Sunday, 2 May 2010 | Views [661]

Ride with chickens or take the bus???

Ride with chickens or take the bus???

We thought we had arranged transportation to Pucallpa when we were in town on Wednesday but they never showed up.  So we loaded our bags into a mototaxi and went to one of the car companies for a shared taxi to Pucallpa; 5 hours for 45 soles.  The Nissan station wagon had no rear seat legroom but we were willing to give it a go even if we had to share it with several stinky chickens in the back.  When they decided to squeeze another passenger in with us I said, “No quierro ir!” and we got our money back.  The bus would be leaving within the hour and even if it took seven hours the added legroom would be worth it.  And it cost less than half the taxi.

The Paredes Estrella bus company isn’t Cruz del Sur but we had the four rear rows to ourselves.  We hadn’t been on the road for 20 minutes when we stopped to change a flat tire but after that the trip was routine…for Peru.  Fast on the paved sections, slow through construction, long delays for washed out sections, and many stops to pick up and drop off passengers.  It rained as we climbed through the cloud forest and we saw hundreds of waterfalls.  Fernando, our guide in Manu, told me of a place named ‘Quince mil,’ (fifteen thousand) for the 15,000 mm of rain it gets each year.  Can you imagine fifty feet of rain?  No wonder there are so many mud slides and washed out roads.

We arrived in Pucallpa as predicted and hired a mototaxi to take us to Hostal Arequipa.  Connie rush off to the toilet while I checked for a vacancy, collected our luggage and paid the driver.  In the confusion I left my backpack in the mototaxi; two cameras ($2,000), eyeglasses ($250) and sunglasses ($100) plus some incidentals.  Shit! Shit! Shit!  There must be 10,000 of the mototaxis in town, maybe 50,000.  And we didn’t know the drivers name.

Pedro from the hotel escorted me to the police station so I could fill out a report for insurance purposes while Connie sat in the room trying not to be sick and probably thinking of ways to kill me.  As we were working through the report in Spanglish, in walked Alex, the driver, with my pack.  I hugged everyone and tipped Alex 50 soles, a pittance really since the trip would have been ruined without the cameras.  Pedro insisted on carrying the pack back to the hotel and presenting it to Connie since I was obviously incapable of caring for it.

We negotiated a fair rate of 80 soles a night (about $30) for the month so we will call Hostal Arequipa home.  We have a sitting area, a mini-fridge, wi-fi and TV with some English channels but not CNN or BBC.   No matter, we have lots to read.  The motos outside make a heck of a racket but we are getting used to it and wear earplugs to bed.



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