Wednesday the 18th Con´t.
It was overcast and cooler when we stopped on the top of the mountain. A guy digging a hole for some reason 100ft from the road. Anna went to talk to him about which path to choose- left or right. After 10min, I began getting impatient because we were on 2 blips of gas and time was precious. Then I realized this was all a test set forth by a higher being. A drew a deep breath and some energy from the mountain, just like I learned from Dead Woman´s Pass. I respected Anna´s trip mission to talk to the locals. But asking some farmer how his afternoon was going?! I got out of the car and walked up to them. They were small talking about the price of a sack of potatoes. The farmer had his fly down and was covered in mud. He pulled a filthy water bottle out of his truck filled with liquor of some sort. I goaded Anna into drinking it and she actually took a swig. Blah!
10min later we were on our way on the high road. She was a sweetheart some of the time but most of the time she would just rip into whatever I said. She felt that because I wasn´t fluent in Spanish that my whole trip was pointless and vain. Anyone who knows me more than a week knows I won´t stand such negative nonsense. So I began again with my savage jokes, ¨The best chefs in Peru would fight for a chance to be a street vendor in New York.¨ I can out do any rediculousness. I even told her I was kidding, but this chica was so bizaar. Ï desagree¨¨she said. When we crossed a bridge made of thin logs I said Ï should get a T-shirt that says Í survived the Savage Bridge´¨ Anna didn´t laugh?! If you can´t make light of the situation we were in, sheesh. She never asked me any questions about me. We are both from Upstate NY yet she hated the fact we were Americans and wouldn´t talk about it. But her biggest mistake was that she told me I shouldn´t even be in Peru, and that walking down any street is just as fullfilling as the Inca Trail?!
Physically I felt good. The thought of reaching the safety of a city was enthralling. But it was this journey that held much substance. The things we saw amongst the cactuses and livestock was other worldly. Hopefully I can pry a link to some of Annas photos if she posted some online. Peru is a bicultural society of 2 parts: those who are indigenous and those who are not. 45% of the population is pure idigenous descent! That is what you see off of the gringo trail. We were in the thick of the peaceful peasantry. We listened to Tom Petty and other good stuff on my iPod. Passing a bus or truck was a chore. Drive out till I was inches from falling off the cliff and let it bass on the mountain side. YIPES.
The GPS showed we were heading for Ayacucho. If the car bottomed out one more time on some pile of rocks I thought we would explode. I chewed harder on my coca leaves as the gas guage started to blink on the last notch. Stomach rumbling, running on empty. There set into a distant valley was the city of Ayacucho. We were going to make it, if we didn´t turn into some dudes coca field and get shot.
The city suffered horrific terrorism in the 1980´s. The guerrilla organization called The Shining Path was started here, and in the 80´s it murdered rural mayors and police on it´s way to attempting to overthrow the government. The country has been cleaned up a lot since then. There wasn´t a paved road to the place till 1999 (and boy was I looking forward to getting on it). The 1st signs of human habitation in Peru were found in a cave nearby and the Wari culture had it´s capitol here 500 years before the Inca Empire.
In the plaza de armas we hit the bank (AAAH), then got sandwiches with ice cream in the shape of pinochio (AAAAAAAAAAAH). We found a hotel and as we were checking in Anna was making fun of me to the receptionist that I´ve been in Peru a couple weeks and still wasn´t fluent in Spanish. This bitch had to go.
Some street vendors sold me bracelets and told me Cusco sucks- too touristy. This town was nice, but it had little of the splendor of the ancient Inca Empire. I did some walking round (see the photo of the bone-plane) then took Anna out to our last supper. We got lots of food (burger a and fries and she had potato soup) and watched some dancers rehearse some traditional dances. Anna wouldn´t quit with the painful remarks and rebuttals to everything I said. There´s a lot of nasuating things about American consumer/waste culture, but I am no means a poster child for such nonesense. I own/consume/waste far less than the average American household. But still Anna called me judgemental, negative and reitereated that I shouldn´t be in Peru. I felt like I was talking to Jim Keller- she was acting out and speaking attributes of herself.
And it gets much wierder.
After dinner I went back to the hotel to write in my journal while Anna went to find and internet spot. Fell asleep. I awoke at 4:30a and noticed Anna was not in the room. Getting up I walked into the hall and saw her sleeping on the couch in the lobby?! Her long dirty blond hair falling over the edge of the couch and her arms above her head. I went back into the room and didn´t sleep the rest of the night, pissed off that she wouldn´t come talk to me so that I wouldn´t be freaked out she didn´t come back.
Thursday, March 19th.
I got out of bed at 6a and Anna was gone. Not on the couch. FML. I brought my stuff to the car lot, took her stuff out of the car and brought it to the room. Still no Anna. Grr. Why didn´t she talk to me before bolting again? She thought I was an ignorant monster who hated the Peruvian culture and therefore I´m worthy of being mocked and disrespected. Still, I wanted to help her get out of this godforsaken place.
I got in my car and quickly round rt 24. NICELY PAVED! It was a huge relief to be heading West to the coast floating along this road with no bumps, dirt or dropoffs. Sadly, I spent lots of time obsessing about Anna and how ticked she got me. It was awesome to be alone again in the car and I focused on that. That´s when the aliens contacted me.