Thursday, December 10, 2009

Peeing under a banana tree, and other Peruvian adventures

I spent 2 nearly perfect days in Mancora... it is a beautiful beach in a small, sandy little town with one main street. It apparently gets very crowded in the summer, but the mobs didn´t seem to have hit yet, so it was actually very mellow. Jano turned out to be a fantastic travel buddy, we got along great and had so much fun doing basically nothing.. lounging on the beach, eating fresh ceviche (omg i LOVE) and drinking mosquitos, which are mojitos made with pisco instead of rum. Yesterday we rented horses and rode them all along the beach, and I swear I felt like I was in paradise. We also checked out another similar beach just north called Punta Sal, had some sort of bizarre set menu beef stew thing with the locals, lounged under a palm hut in the sand, and then headed back for more relaxation. I know, life is tough.

Today I feel like my trip has officially begun, because for the first time, I am now traveling alone. I managed to stick with people, first Chio and then Jano, until this point, so today feels like a relatively important moment. Its a bit scary, honestly, but also more exciting than words can describe. Not knowing what will come next is part of the thrill of it all.

That being said, Ive managed to have a pretty ridiculous day. I bought a bus ticket yesterday for a 9:00am bus to Chiclayo today from Mancora. On schedule I arrived at the bus stop this morning, and waited around for what felt like forever. Around 9.30 (please excuse the faulty punctuation, I cant figure out how to use this computer) a bus pulled up, kind of slowed to a stop, dumped one person off, and kept driving. I figured it wasnt mine, but the bus company employee started screaming at me that I´d missed my bus, then grabbed my backpack and started running after it. When the bus kept driving he threw my backpack in a mototaxi (these adorable 3 wheeled taxis they use all over the coasts here) and basically threw me in after it and instructed the driver to follow the bus. Meanwhile he jumped on the back and proceeded to scream and whistle and bang on the mototaxi. I of course had no clue what was going on, but kind of went with it. Apparently we were in hot persuit of the bus, although at quite a disadvantage, given that we were in a vehicle that has a maximum speed of probably 30 miles/ hour. I kept saying, hey its fine, I´ll just wait for the next one, but no this guy was in quite a mood and shushed me repeatedly. Finally we arrived 15 minutes later to the next town, a crazy little fishing town called Los Organos, the bus nowhere in sight. After a heated argument between the bus employee and the taxi driver, we then headed all the way back, where I waited for the 11:00 bus. It was royally annoying, but the whole time I kept reminding myself how the pure entertainment factor made it worth it!! It really was hilarious!

Anyway I took the 6 hour bus ride to Chiclayo and arrived around 5:00. Was befriended on the bus by quite a crazy character named Victor, a completely broke travling bohemian type who apparently snuck onto the bus for free somewhere mid trip and sat down right next to me and planted a kiss on my cheek, then proceeded to act like he was drunk or just totally lost for the next 2 hours. Turns out he´s one of those guys who runs out in front of cars at traffic lights and juggles for money. He claims he´s going to teach me to juggle but I doubt it... I´m very uncoordinated! Anyway the bus itself was a relative nightmare. Worst seats I´ve ever sat in, dirty curtains, and most critically, NO BATHROOM. After the 2 hour wait this morning for the second bus I´d put back a few coffees and had to ask the guy twice to pull over. The first time I ended up peeing in a gas station... the second time I was not so lucky, and ended up next to the highway under a banana tree. Oh bodily functions be damned! The scenery was nice though. Mostly sandy hills at first and then it becomes huge expanses of dunes. You go forever without seeing any houses and then suddenly these bizarre little shantytowns pop up out of nowhere, corrugated tin roofs and brick walls and all. I´d be curious to find out how they make their living. I snapped pictures but ughhh it´ll be a while before I get pictures uploaded, sorry blog readers.

So yes, back to the story. In Chicalyo, Victor the crazy juggler got off too, and I´m too nice and offered to take him into town in my taxi, seeing as he had literally no money and was planning to juggle his way there. I guess that´s my good deed for today. He also followed me to my hostel, and while I paid for my room, he somehow bargained his for free. Not fair! Anyway he´s gone now, off juggling in traffic I´m sure!

Finally alone, in the past few hours I´ve had some time to explore this city, and I´m going to be honest... this is going on the list of lamest and least worth it cities ever. I thought it would be more of a town, but it´s a bustling city chock full of all the budget hoochie clothing money can buy. Since, thanks to the bus fiasco, I arrived too late to check out the ruins of Sipan or Pimentel beach (though both are now my plans for tomorrow! yay!) I wandered over to the recommended medicinal herbs market, where shamans sell you strange herbs and concoctions made with hoofs and tongues and who knows what else, to cure your diabetes or your arthritis or your broken heart. I, being the raging sucker that I am, walked away with what appears to be a bottle of worms and flowers stewing in a ´love perfume´ and topped off with a miniature doll, supposedly a representation of the man of my dreams. Apparently if I carry this bottle around with me long enough, good luck will follow me. And for 3 soles (the equivalent of about a dollar) I figured I can use all the luck I can get! ;-)

Other than that though, the city and the rest of the market have been quite unpleasant. So unpleasant, in fact, that instead of being outside enjoying it, I am writing an incredibly long blog in an internet cafe. I am glowing more than usual here with foreignerness, my height and hair throwing everyone in my vicinity into a wild tizzy. They want to sell me EVERYTHING and are persistent to the bitter end. I received more marriage proposals today than I have received combined in the rest of my life. One of which included a tiny, slightly deformed man running after me with the plastic-wrapped meat cleavers he was selling in his hands, screaming, ´Soy feo, pero de corazon sincero!´(I´m ugly, but my heart is sincere!) and promising me that if I marry him, he is able to provide me with 2 meals a day and my own room in his apartment. What more could a girl ask for?

I´m looking forward to tomorrow, planning to get up early and go to the ruins of Sipan and still have time in the afternoon to take a bus to Pimentel for the day. Not that I need more sun, I´m a bit red, but I have to get my base tan at some point, and the clock is ticking. Tomorrow night or Saturday, depending, I´ll head to Trujillo and Chan Chan, and then Sunday or Monday to Arequipa. Adventures abound!

I am now going to go search for dinner, and it is likely that I will finally succumb to the temptations of anticucho, grilled beef heart on a stick. I hear it´s delicious.


heather said...

i'm laughing outloud, making billy run to his computer to see what's so funny! hey, that marriage proposal sounds like one to consider in tough times. :-) keep writing. it's all wonderful!