Last Days in Peru

Trip Start Sep 08, 2012
Trip End Nov 27, 2012

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Where I stayed
Hostal Santa Lucia

Flag of Peru  ,
Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Bad news: the digestive trouble really dialed itself up about an hour into the 9 hour night bus ride to Trujillo, which was approximately two hours since eating the evil quinoa salad at Cafe Andino. Good news: the seat next to me was free which made for curling up into a ball of unhappy much easier. It was indeed a crazy bus ride down out of the mountains, full of hairpin turns at high velocity in conjunction with more than a few mad dashes to pass other vehicles on the left. Added to the insane driving was the weather. From what I could gather from the window, it was quite foggy. Good news: I was too sick to care. I did manage to get some sleep as well as hold out for the bus station bathroom in Trujillo.

After the whirlwind romance with the Trujillo bus station toilet, I took a cab to the center of town. I needed some serious space to clear my head from such an intense experience. I think it would have been awkward had I hung around anyway. Plus I had hours to kill before the next bus north to Pirua where I would spend the night before heading on to Mancora.  I had originally intended to do this all in one trip but my gut told it me that staying the night in Pirua was a nonnegotiable. I had not choice but to acquiesce.

I asked the cabbie to drop me at the Plaza de Armas. We chatted for a few minutes (my Spanish is slowly but surely getting better) and he informed me it was too early and nothing would be open. I figured I would just sit and get some fresh air (hopefully near another bathroom). He was right of course. Thankfully it was Sunday and Mass at the Cathedral of Trujillo was about to begin. And so I dragged my tired, sick disheveled self inside and found a seat. I had just my daypack with me (I was able to check the bigger green beast at the bus terminal) so I didn´t create too much of a disturbance for the others already in attendance.

As much as I´ve had my beef with the Catholic Church over the years, I have to say that I have consistently found sanctuary in the cathedrals and churches I have visited on this trip. Practically speaking, they have been a great place to regroup when arriving in an unknown town or city. Spiritually speaking, I´ve found peace and rejuvenation when the outside world became too much. All the traffic horns, dogging people on the street, avoiding any and all Fps (future potential husbands), vendors, the diesel clouds of toxic yuck, and not speaking the language well can be quite energy draining. Various sanctuaries would appear when I was in need and it was like magic.

Side note: I had my palm read for fun about two years ago and one of the things the woman told me was that I had a lot of spiritual guidance and help around me. Now I think she may have been on to something. Lots of unexplained things have happened since then that it´s almost hard NOT to believe in something. Shortly before my grandmother Marge passed on she asked me if I believed in Jesus... I hesitated and didn´t respond. She smiled at me and said ´as long as you believe in something dear.´ Funny what a couple of recent epically shitastic years can do for opening your heart. The trouble now is trying to keep it from cramming back shut when old hurts gets stirred up.

So I stayed in the cathedral until it became too stuffy and humid with humans. Mostly, I needed a bathroom (it was becoming an addiction!). I left and found a hostel close by that was extremely kind and letting me use their facilities- they probably saw how awful I looked and took pity on me. After that quickie, I was able to find a breakfast joint with wifi where I could investigate accommodations for the night Pirua. Trying to kill more time after the very light breakfast, I decided to walk back down to the Plaza and check it out. The roads were now blocked off as a demonstration was about to start. It was interesting to witness the different folks representing their respective groups; there was even an all girl drum corps! Cool! While I was walking slowly around, a man commanded me to sit with him. It was probably the attractive deathly sick pale color I was sporting that really got his attention (bonus feature: I also had one of my previously mentioned unflattering practical outfits on).

I became too tired to walk but it was still too soon to go back to the bus station (I needed to give the bus station toilet some time to reflect too). I ended up heading back towards a less crowded church that had a safe looking gated courtyard. I was grateful for the stone bench that became my new resting spot. I laid down for a bit while managing to guard my stuff.  A homeless lady nearby took pity on me (interestingly enough, it was International Take Pity on the Poor Gringa Day) and directed me to the tourist police station. I thanked her for the hobo kindness. I think she thought I was one of her own and in a way I guess I was. For the record I use the term ´hobo´ with love and in honor of my ´hobochic´ friends Kimbo and ADawg.

Bad news: I felt so badly laying on that bench that I cried a little... actually a lot. To be alone in a foreign country sicker than sick laying like a hobo on a stone bench outside of a church is to be absolutely vulnerable. Good news: in that moment I thought of Brene Brown´s TED talks on vulnerability and shame and I was heartened a bit. Watching those videos fundamentally helped shift my perspective on life and helped to get me to where I was at that moment... even if it was an awful one. Traveling isn´t always rainbow and unicorns... it's also hard and challenging. Additionally, it has a great way of shoving you out of your comfort zone and into orbit.

Throughout my time in Trujillo proper, I was able to manage my situation just enough to not have to buy diapers. I felt worse than the first time I got sick in Cusco. Naturally, it was time to go back on the Cipro (I didn´t have any parasite medication at that point). Ohhh Tamara... I get it now. You were right! Bad news: I felt so badly that I almost wished I was back in my old cube... almost. Good news: Impermanence is a very reliable friend and I just needed to -literary- wait this sh$t out.

I finally got a cab back to the bus station and decided to visit the toilet for one last round of our torrid affair- I couldn't stay away and I wanted to be remembered fondly! Despite the teary goodbyes, we parted ways on good terms. I headed out the door never to look back while looking ahead to spreading myself across three seats in the back of the waiting area; I spent three very unrestful hours in my new home.

The bus ride north was uneventful until I and the other passengers were dropped off on a random corner somewhere near the bus station in Pirua- it was dark and I was uncertain. It took a really long time to get a taxi and I was in need toilet again... Bad news: I ended up getting ripped off by the taxi driver (originally he said 10 soles then changed it to 10 dollars!). I ended up paying 10 soles for a 2 soles ride. Good news: I made it to the hostel alive AND got my own fairly priced -wifi enabled- room! I was even able to FaceTime Dottie which helped a lot. Jesus, Mary, Joseph and the Shepherds that was an awful 24hrs!

Feeling a little better, I hailed my first cab from the street (it was far cheaper than having the desk guy call for me) to the station where I caught the next bus to the beach town, Mancora. I was hoping to feel good enough to treat myself to surfing and/or kiteboarding lessons. Bad news: I spent two less than great nights (read: awful) at a party hostel, didn´t get surfing lessons, and had some pretty terrible food. Good news: my dormmates and the Irish volunteer bartender were extraordinarily kind to me, I found a yoga class, rode a mototaxi and had a nice walk on the beach while managing to avoid a crazy drifter who I suspected was following me.

Dear Tayna: thank you for the amazing act of kindness of buying me chips and Powerade during my sickness relapse. I only knew you for about 10 minutes. I am so happy I got to hang out with you and Sarah!

Oh and the international bad ass girls from Sweden were super awesome too!

Halloween seemed like a perfect night to cross the border into Ecuador, right?

In summary, here´s how my last night in Peru went... good news: I got out of the party hostel just in time to miss the huge kegger, CIFA International to Guayaquil arrived more or less on time and I a got a seat in First Class. Bad news: First class was more like 5th class and was shrouded in cloud of mold. Good news: the money collector/claims form lady was very kind and so were most of the folks riding in 5th class with me.

Overall the border crossing -albeit inefficient and tedious- was fine.


Step 1: Stop at an in-the-middle-of-nowhere decrepit office building in Aguas Verdes, Peru.
Step 2: Get off the bus, enter the building and wait in line to be ´stamped out´ of the country.
Step 3: Get back on the bus and wait (guard your stuff with- as in the words of Professor Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody- CONSTANT VIGILANCE!)
Step 4: Drive 10 minutes to the border crossing
Step 5: Cross the border then stop at the CIFA bus station and pick up more passengers
Step 6: Drive 20 more minutes to a turn around, head back in the other direction and stop at the main border control office
Step 7: Get off the bus and get into a crowded, chaotic line that wraps around the building
Step 8: Have the guard shut the door in your face because there are too many people inside
Step 9: Wait in line outside until you are able to get inside, then wait 45 minutes in a packed line with no regard for space while having a shifty character in front you acting all shifty-like...CONSTANT VIGILANCE!
Step 10: Clench your fists and stare down said shifty character, realize you are the only foreign white person (in my case) for kilometers and kilometers then just hope for the best as you finally make it to the counter, get ´stamped in´ then get the hell back on the bus... CONSTANT  VIGILANCE!

When we finally drove off into the Ecuador predawn, I was absolutely relieved. Good news: the immigration officer was very nice and vaguely reminded me of the front man from one of my favorite bands, The Decemberists. Wild! Bad news: the Guayaquil bus station was still head of me. Good news: I arrived at the bus station with all of my stuff and immediately caught the next bus on to Cuenca. I also had the help of a police officer and a kind vendor point me in the right direction of departure bay where I made it with minutes to spare.

Welcome to Ecuador!

This posted is dedicated to a very wise Rabbi who first shared the Zen story of Maybe  with me.  I am still processing the wisdom that was imparted on me. I am forever grateful!

Thanks for reading!

P.S. The story of Maybe should not to be confused with the story of Maeby.
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Blind Bill E. on

Sending energy to your belly Kellie!

Yeah, sometimes travel is a kick in the teeth. But it seems like your handling your downs with grace.


mc1rvariant on

Thanks Bill! Having amazingly supportive friends and family sure does helps. Re: Globe Sessions... glad you are liking it. My favorite two tracks are Riverwide and The Difficult Kind. :) Also My Favorite Mistake is a classic. Thanks for reading! I look forward to catching up when I get back. Hope you are rocking' it! XO

Tamara on

Oh, Kellie, I'm bummed to read you're gut's still bothering you -- but also really delighted by the open and colorfully humorous manner in which you convey that relationship with the toilet. Parasites...!!! Certainly something I never wanted to be "right" about, but an obsession with toilets permeates my "Journey to the Abysmal" for a reason.... :-(

I'm wondering if you might pre-empt the little bastards by eliminating as much starch from your diet as possible, at least to keep their feeding and growth potential in check. Try to stick with well-cooked meat and well-cooked non-starch vegetables, which I know isn't so easy to find in the Land of the Eternal Pollo con Arroz y Papas Fritas.

But in the meantime, my heart goes out to you in a hundred different ways, most in gratitude for the story you're sharing and for the fierce heart you have for your journey. Your border-crossing step-by-step is revealing and simple at the same time. Really good writing in this post over-all -- not to critique your style, but to say it works for me. Keep at it and enjoy Ecuador! :-)

luxx2001 on

awesome blog! :)

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