Just Like Cattle

Trip Start May 30, 2005
Trip End Sep 30, 2006

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Flag of Peru  ,
Friday, May 12, 2006

I had to be up and outside my hotel (not a hostel for a change!) by 4am, I had showered and packed the night before, so I set my alarm for 3:50am in order to maximise my sleep. How nice the hotel were when they woke me at 3:15am to ensure that I didn't miss the taxi.

The taxi was bang on time and I put my bag in the boot and looked in the taxi, All the seats were occupied. A big question mark formed above my head as I tried to figure it out. The passenger from the front then got out the car, and it happened to be the guy that I'd sat beside on the bus from Lima, I was about to get a whole lot closer to him this time. He ushered me into the front and onto a couple of cushions placed between the two front seats. It was horrible.

For the next couple of hours I tried to doze while being jabbed through the cushion below. I accidently put our automatic car from drive into neutral a few times so I couldn't even rest my left leg anywhere. It was horrible.

After 2 hours we stopped for some petrol and to stretch our legs a bit, thankfully we then swapped seats in the front, but it was still really cramped. It was quite amusing for a while though as we joked with the passengers in the back seat, stating how comfortable it was and expressing how disappointed we were that the journey was about to end. It was horrible.

After 3.5 hours of being transported like cattle we arrived. It was only a short stop as we were able to swap into another taxi here. Two of the passengers from the back were continuing on as well, I didn't realise what was going on as they grabbed there bags and practically sprinted for the next car. Of course, when I got there the back seat was full and a friendly local was smiling at me from the front seat. No. Not again. No. I can't do it.

There was a minibus going to the same location so I told the driver that I cant share the front seat again and that I'd rather get the minibus. He tried to reduce the price, but the saving of 5 Soles (1 british pound) didn't swing it for me, In fact, he could have offered to take me for free and I wouldn't have got in that front seat. He had a word with the guys in the car, one of them got out the back and shared the front. I got into the back, ahhhh. Did I feel guilty? No, not really, I'd done my share of front seats for that day and didn't want to repeat that performance anytime soon.

This journey was really quite comfortable and took 4.5 hours. The guys in the front seat didn't swap at all and looked perfectly happy there, maybe they've just been brought up accepting that this is a perfectly acceptable way to travel in a car.

We had one more change to make before getting to Tarapoto. I had the option of a front seat when it came time for the swap over. I asked the driver if he'd be traveling with 2 people in the front seat, he assured me that he wouldn't so I grabbed it. He kept his word and the final 3.5 hours of journey were the best of the day.

I arrived in Tarapoto late afternoon after 11 hours of traveling, to be honest it was a pretty tough day. I had a little look around town, relaxed, stretched my legs and thought about the journey I'd take the next day. I headed for a much needed bed early on in the evening. It's a shame that I'll not get a chance to explore this area, but I've got a tight timetable to keep.
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