The Adventures of April

We shall not cease from exploration - And the end of all our exploring - Will be to arrive where we started - And know the place for the first time. -- T.S. Eliot

Monday, March 12, 2007


This weekend Gabe and I were intent on getting out of Lima. The dust, the dryness, the lack of life, the smog, the noise, the combis, the heat - everything - was getting a bit oppressive. We wanted to go somewhere green and mountainous.

After spending the week trying to find a reasonably proximate location that met our criteria, we struck out on Friday with practically no plan or information to find a bus that would take us to the town of Canta. After taking a taxi to the opposite side of Lima, we found a few bus companies. For the first three, all of the buses had left by 8:30 AM that morning. I was very pessimistic and was already picturing myself sulking around Lima for the weekend.

We found one last company who had a bus that left at 2:30 - and it was 2:15! I hate to use this awful word, but it was quite serendipitous. We boarded the bus and stopped about every twenty feet between Lima and Canta to pick up people along the way.

I had no idea what to expect. Neither of our guide books said a peep about Canta, and I hadn't been able to find anything definitive on the internet. No map, no hostel or hotel names, no information, no nothing!

Luckily, we were pleasantly surprised. Friday night was a bit dreary; it was only light for another 45 minutes or so once we got in and then it was rainy and dark. After an evening of wandering the few streets of Canta, eating some dodgy Lomo Saltado, building a small fire and playing some cards, the next morning was clear and we were surrounded by green and mountains.

We grabbed a quick breakfast during which was a miscommunication strictly Peruvian in nature (well, perhaps Colombian as well). I ordered (or thought I ordered) hot chocolate, 'coca.' Readers that have any knowledge of narcotics will know what kind of tea they brought me - coca tea, made from the leaves of coca plants, from which you derive cocaine. I was a little surprised and worried that I was moments away from becoming a hopelessly addicted druggie, so I explained my mistake and eventually got some hot chocolate.

We were going to hire a guide (a.k.a. an 11 year-old with nothing else to do) to bring us to the Incan ruins around Canta but we instead struck out on our own, wandering through the hills and farms that surrounded the area. It was a bit a challenge, due to the fact that Gabe was feverish and I'm out of shape. The change in altitude will leave you out of breath and with a dull headache. However, as you can see from the pictures, the scenery was worth it. We met a few nice folks along the way and ate lots of cookies for sustenance.

In the afternoon the fog rolled in. We were forced to take the long and winding road back to Canta instead of cutting through our shortcuts directly down the mountain. The rain soon followed. We walked for about two hours in the cold rain. A battle ensued between my belt and the heavy, soggy bottoms of my jeans. It was as though somebody had took my jeans, dunked the lower 3/4 in a cold, muddy pool and handed them to me to wear. It was also a bad time to discover that the waterproof qualities of my raincoat had worn out.

We made it back and promptly got into a colectivo heading back to Lima. This is basically a taxi with four people in it. It cost only 10 soles ($3) for the 2 1/2 hour trip to Lima! Granted, I was sitting in the back middle seat of a Tempo smushed between soggy Gabe and a Peruvian woman named Emelia for over two hours, but what a deal!

Although the taxi driver had horrible taste in music, it was great to get out of Lima and see more of Peru. On the way home I could see Canta was in this green and lush valley and how the landscape quickly progressed to cacti-covered mountains to the dirt hills of Lima. It's refreshing for my mind to know that not very far away green hills and flowers are waiting.

All in all, 'twas an adventure and great weekend.

Photos, loosely from top to bottom: Me striking a pose by some mountains; the village of Canta as we hiked up; me and a photo of Baby Jesus; Gabe and an Andean woman; somebody's not excited to hike in the rain, but glad they spent 2 soles on their tarp; fog.


At 2:06 PM, March 13, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love it! You always manage to find such great deals, April. The poor driver must not make much money...

The lady in the picture with Gabe looked thrilled to be photographed!

At 10:35 PM, March 13, 2007, Blogger Gabe said...

Nice writing April. And you pieced those pictures together real well. But the caption on that last picture is a little questionable.

At 10:54 PM, March 15, 2007, Blogger Gabe said...

You know, at first glance those pictures seem mediocre. But looking close up, there are some real good pictures on this post.

At 3:36 PM, March 16, 2007, Blogger Unknown said...

Some may find your writing riveting, but that story would be admittedly better if you actually used the word "serendipitously" at the beginning and end of each paragraph. Nice adventures, though. Too bad about your raincoat losing its waterproof qualities. I'd say that was decidedly "unserendipitous."


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