August 4, 2011
Pulling out of the airport on Wednesday night in a taxi was a very strange feeling. Seven times I have pulled out late at night with a group of new students who were nervous and excited to be in a brand new country. This time, it was just Alex, Molly, and I headed to the same hotel (Yanina gave us a free room because of the drama). There were no names to learn, no rules to talk about, just a bed and a new adventure ahead.
For six weeks I had been working 24 hours a day with responsibilities and students to worry about. Waking up Thursday morning was such a strange feeling, my only responsibility was myself. My top priority was to get to the shipping office to fill out paperwork. I hopped in a taxi and Hotel California was playing. I told the driver that song was one of the reasons I learned how to play guitar in the first place. He didn’t even know what band sang it. Next, Under the Bridge came on by the Chili Peppers. I took these as good omens. (Not that I believe in omens, I´m just stealing a line from Santiago the shephard.)
Filling out paperwork at the office was smooth and easy. A guy from Ireland came in as I was leaving who is shipping his bike back across the pond. The agent Paul told me how most Europeans try to drive from Alaska to the southern tip of Argentina, but most hit Peru and get tired. They ship bikes back home all the time. Mine is the first one ever shipped there from my company. That explains why they were so nice but always seemed to not quite know what they were doing. He then told me the paperwork takes about four days to process! I walked with Oscar to the notary office to get all the papers notarized correctly and finish up. I hopped a taxi back to the hotel to meet Alex and Molly. I told him how I now had four days of chilling in Lima and Alex said, “Well, why don’t you just come as a guest guide on the Lunahuana trip!!!” It is only a week trip and gets back right when the bike would be ready. Hell yes! I get to do more service, see a new part of the country, and say hi to Dylan again. Guess I’m back on for a few more days.
Before we left we went to Lolo and Penny’s house (parents to my boss Juan from last year) to drop off my motorcycle gear and grab lunch. Holy lord it was good. It was the first real ceviche of my life. I can’t wait to go back. Getting to know Penny was excellent, she is British and her husband is Peruvian. They have a pretty crazy life story, and are such nice people. Then, it was off to the bus station to ride down to Lunahuana.
The first leg was a big charter bus to Canate. I love how when I travel I see how incredibly naive I am. That will be the biggest impact of the motorcycle trip home, I will constantly be forced to change and improve my impressions of places. I need this. The thought also crossed my mind of how so much of the world is based not on true reality, but our own personal view of reality. I know how small mine gets, and I wondered what life was like for all the people who live down in the desert. So much is hidden and only discovered if one truly becomes a part of a place. I am reminded of my famous story in New York City. My senior year in high school, National Honors Society took a trip there to sight see and go to a musical. I have a photo of my two best friends and me in front of the Disney Store on Broadway. Years later at GVSU I co-led a service trip to Harlem over spring break. We went out late at night to feed homeless people living on the streets. I distinctly remember handing a man a cup of soup and looking up. He was living in the entrance of the exact same Disney store in the photograph. In the space of 8 hours, that doorway went from a tourist attraction to someone’s home. I had no idea.
My impression of Peru is based solely from my three trips here, which all were in the Sacred Valley. South of Lima it is a total desert. Looking out over the desolate mountains and plains, I have never seen such complete lack of vegetation. The ocean was on our right, and off in the distance you can see the mountains on the left. A select few were topped by a deep, exotic green color. The humidity is so high that for a short time in the winter some vegetation grows on the tops of the dirt-covered mountains. The houses were different too, and everything had an unfamiliar feel to it. We switched from the bus to a taxi for the last 40 minutes from Canate to Lunahuana. Now this felt just like Morocco. We piled into a Honda Accord hatchback. There were three people up front, and four in the back of a five passenger vehicle. I rode with my head out the window. The scenery was amazing and I can’t wait to see it in full daylight. Molly and I stayed in the city so Alex could go up and meet his group first. Since we are guests we didn’t want to be in the way yet. He also had to make sure with the cooks that it was okay that two random people joined up for meals and such.
Our hostel in town was more classic traveling. We found a room with three beds, a broken toilet, and no lights. But, for $3.50 a piece it fits the budget. Dinner was a bottle of Sprite and a package of mint Casino cookies (my favorite). There was supposed to be a fiesta in town, so at 7 pm I lay down for a quick nap, using Dylan’s sleeping bag and my sweatshirt as a pillow. (The beds were hard and had no bedding.) I opened my eyes, wondering what time it was. Oh, my phone says 7 am. I have just slept for 12 hours straight; I think I was a little tired.
$3.50 in Peru
With Rustic this summer, I had a very good idea of what was going to happen each day, the students were what made it fun and different. But now, I kind of like this feeling of not having the faintest clue how the day will go or where I will end up. I suppose that is how some people get addicted to traveling. For now, I just have to get used to it and go from there.