Friday, March 20, 2009

Part IV: The Central Highlands Test.

The night of Sunday the 15th I got some dinner with the German chick. WE had some pizza and hot drinks. I saw a cockroach in on a piece of furniture. She told stories about Animals in her closet (bugs). Then went on to diss Peru squalor (water turns off, so brakes on her bike tour and she went off the road, cleanliness issues, etc.). Then We met a Polish dude and Brazilian chick and went to get a drink. I had a Mojito and a ¨Machu Picchu¨ which has 3 layers of color and you drink it with a straw, pulling the straw up as you drink each layer. Gross.


Anna met me at 8am on the street. She stayed with a couch surfer. We walked to the car and got in. The 4 hr drive to Abancay was nice. I took it on the way to Cusco. Anna had a nice camera and took lots of photos. When we got to Abancay, we knew we were going off the beaten Gringo Trail. We got sandwiches and found the turnoff for the dirt road West and laughingly took it.

And so it began.

I noticed we weren´t getting far quickly, which I expected. The road burned up on the mountain, getting roupher but remaining scenic as could be. Anna enjoyed the trip, as she wanted to get right in there with the impoverished people and talk to them. She has a fair trade store in Buffalo. She´s a self righteous, broke hippie. From the start she had problems with what I was doing on my trip, because I had money and she wouldn´t eat food. She even said ¨We´re travelling, we´re not supposed to have money.¨ This is the level of naiveté I was dealing with. Everything I said she would snap at me, saying the complete opposite. I tested my theory and it came up positive. She wouldn´t laugh at my jokes, but at my serious conversations.

We stopped off a the ruins of Sahuite, which had a big rock with a miniature city carved into it. So cool. There was a bigger one at Qéngo north of Cusco, but that one was destroyed by the Spanish. My God can kill your God type of stuff.

A guy bumrushed the car to hop a ride and I didn´t pick him up. Anna called me rude. This wouldn´t be the first or last time she insulted me out of the blue.

So much more happened this day, dear reader. It was pretty epic and eye opening. And hard. If the details come back to me perhaps I will revisit this section to put it down because this blog is actually the official journey to go hand in hand with the movie.

Round dusk we followed a blue sign to another set of ruins by a lake. It was of a culture that was considered enemies of the Incas. It got dark, and there was no sound up there. It was like Winter...and we heard a creepy weeping in the hills. Chills.

Night fell over us. I was hungry. Anna didn´t like spending money on food and would get break and jelly to call a meal. Yikes. Adding to the eeriness of being on a forlorn road few Peruvians ever traversed, we were listening to the soundtrack to Charlie and the Chocolate factory. We got a hotel in Andahuaylas, dinner and rest. The trunk of the car was full of fine dust from the road, as was the interior and us. For some reason my hands were itching like crazy like my feet and legs. There was a couple seconds of relief after scratching but then the maddening itch returned 10 times worse. Being still helped. Actual agua calientes in the shower?!


There was a food market near the hotel that looked like someone set up a dusty wooden cart full of fruit and flies in someone´s garage. A smile crept over Anna´s face as she saw this must be ¨cheap¨. I bought disgusting plate of rice, fish and lentils from a guy who never washed his hands in his life. We needed $ but couldn´t find an ATM. I felt we were wasting precious time and we took off West without getting dough.

The road was atrocious and dust was everywhere. We hugged the site of cliffs and rockslides threatened to disjoint us from our halfway safety. The itch returned and I chewed cocoa leaves to attempt to alleviate the pain. Was it the sun?

The GPS didn´t register a road. It just had a blue path where we had already gone, and we could see our destinationñ- Ayacucho- so far away. The road would split suddenly with no signs. Guessing became our past time on the most epic day of my trip. We yanked down horrific paths, through gaggles of sheep, donkeys, barking dogs, horses, chickens and llamas. Indiginous peoples stopping to stare at the Gringos they only heard about. Children pointing and yelling ¨Grinko!¨

We gave a ride to a woman and her 2 children to the next town. I stopped so Anna could get some directions. She was here to talk Spanish to the locals. I with she respected my reason to be there. Her reality saw me as being a demon. She was always a breath away from saying ¨how do you live with yourself?¨. We got some ¨directions¨from a couple locals which involved going up a hill and finding some town called Chincheros. We went up the hill then descended into a logging village and further away from our destination. I freaked out and yelled ¨We have no food, no money and we´re running out of gas and lost in the middle of the Andes!¨ Anna replied, ¨what do we need money for? And we have food.¨ This was comforting, but a bannana and 2 crackers was not lunch for me. White knuckled, we turned around and asked a guy working on something on the side of the road for directions. Everytime Anna got out of the car I would cross my fingers- and bite harder on the cocoa leaves in my cheek.

Now we had a hand drawn map from the Peruvian equivalent of Brother´s Keeper. We drove up and over the top of a mountain. The biggest 4hr snafu of all time. I knew there was no way we were making it to Ayacucho that night. But we followed a bus and it led us to a town. Further down the valley was the town of Chincheros, where we arrived at 4:40p and got a hotel with a garage.

This day left me feeling defeated. I was starving, but we had no food. Anna made some bread with avacado. Went into the town square and Anna was talking with the locals as she liked to do. They were having a town meeting where everyone was in the meeting house talking about building in Chincheros. Okay. The ATM wouldn´t accept our cards. So it was no dinner and no birthday drinks for Anna (yup, she was turning 25). We climbed to the top of a hill that had a gazebo and watched the sun set over the mountain.

The hotel smelled like mildew. And we were high in elevation so breathing was rough to start with. I called my parents and Tracy because of the thing I wrote in this blog about me being dead if you didn´t hear from me. The itching was making me shake with madness. I was at my wits end and fell into a mold filled sleep.....

How will it all turn out?! Will we survive? Stay tuned!


  1. I've gotta guess you survived; at least to this point. How else could you have written it? On a serious note, don't eat the food if it smells off, even if you're really hungry. You seem to have gotten food poisoning a number of times. When you get back, remind me to send you a dictionary and a book of punctuational usage. Peace, man.

  2. I should have hired Chris to come translate this gibberish everyone is spewing.