For me, this has been a crazy crazy week. I’ve just made it to Andahuaylillas, a small farming community outside of Cuzco, the ancient capital of the Inca Empire. But before I talk about that, I have to update you all on the travels I’ve had to get here.
On Sunday and Monday, I was in Huampami, in the northern Peruvian Amazon, without electricity and without any way to get back to modernity other than the one boat that goes to Nieva every day. So Tuesday morning, at 6 am, I got on that boat back to Nieva. I spent my last day in Nieva resting, collecting my thoughts, walking around and getting one last chance to see this jungle city.
Then Wednesday, I started my journey back to Lima. I got in a van from Nieva to Bagua, which left at 6 am as well. When I came to Nieva, the trip was all overnight so I was half asleep and couldn’t see anything, so I didn’t have any idea where in the world I was. But this time, the journey was all in the day, so I saw everything and boy, was it beautiful. We started off in lowland jungle, then began zipping around sharp curves, up and down steep inclines, nearly flying (and I mean this quite literally) through the jungle-mountain mix. Despite feeling like I was on a roller coaster, I was totally awestruck by the beauty of the land.
About an hour from Bagua, we had to stop because of a rockslide. I actually didn’t mind because it was a quick break from the roller coaster and I got to enjoy the scenery of the area. I also struck up conversation with some Peruvians who were also waiting, joking about the derrumbe and sharing stories about the jungle. After an hour, it was cleared up enough for us to pass, so we ran to the car and zipped off into the mountains.
Outside of Bagua, the scenery changed again. The jungle faded away as the mountains got bigger and drier. We made it to Bagua, but I missed the bus to Chiclayo so I decided to make a quick trip to Jaén, where supposedly more buses were. But, when I got there, I had missed them and the next ones were at 10 pm (by then it was 2 or so). So I and three others got into an auto, a car that took us to Chiclayo.
Man, this was a crazy road. The mountains got bigger and bigger and we kept going faster and faster, only slowing down for speed bumps and the sharpest of turns. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time, and especially when we got so high that we were in the clouds and couldn’t see more than five feet in front of us. Thankfully, we made it to Chiclayo without any problems and I got to take a good shot of the terrain during our one and only rest stop:
Spent the night in Chiclayo, and the next day I went with some Jesuits to a local confirmation at a prison for juvenile delinquents. It was a nice ceremony for them, and after there was a little party with regional dishes and desserts. After getting back, I met up with a friend I met the first time I was in Chiclayo. We went to get ceviche and then headed to the beach, hanging out and enjoying the huge waves. Thursday night, I got on a bus to Lima, and attempted (mostly unsuccessfully) to sleep on the bus that night.
In Lima, I went back to the host family that housed me during my time there a few weeks ago, and they were so excited to hear about my adventures! After catching up, we went to La Punta in Callao, an old fishing port north of Lima to get more ceviche and see the beaches. After washing my clothes by hand I hit the hay, then got up and went to the airport to go to Cuzco.
July 4th. I’m in the airport and my flight has been delayed due to a storm in Cuzco. This might be the strangest déjà vu in my life, because exactly a year ago, I was in Rome, waiting for a plane to Paris that was delayed due to a storm in the Alps. But thankfully, it was only an hour delay so I made it to Cuzco and then Andahuaylillas quickly without any problems.
I get to Andahuaylillas with my backpack and little guitar, and with directions to go to the church. So I found the huge church and met a much of American JVC volunteers who work here and we’re having a July 4th celebration. They cooked chili and cornbread (how Texan of them) and we hung out, sharing stories and telling jokes, playing games, and realizing that next week, a group from my alma mater Jesuit Dallas will be coming to this very same retreat center to provide service to the community. I was totally floored – how in the world did I end up in this rural farming village where there were more Americans than I’d seen this whole trip and where teachers and students from my high school would meet me here in just a week?
Needless to say, this has probably been the strangest, craziest, coolest weeks of my life. And not to mention that I’ve slept in 6 different beds the last 7 days. Thankfully, I have had an incredible trip, filled with surprises and friendship, and every day the stories just keep getting harder and harder to believe. But for now, I’m prepping for the last leg of my trip, la sierra!