Tag Archives: kindness of strangers

A Day in Mancora, Peru

I wish I had been

Took the plunge

Took the plunge

Heading to hang on to put on mask

Heading to hang on to put on mask

Sebastian hanging on to tortuga.  yikes!

Sebastian hanging on to tortuga. yikes!

Ruby putting on snorkle mask

Ruby putting on snorkle mask

big  tortuga

big tortuga

dead manta ray said to taste like chicken!

dead manta ray
said to taste like chicken!

Blue footed booby

Blue footed booby

Pelligan feeding frenzy

Pelligan feeding frenzy

north beach Mancora, Peru

north beach Mancora, Peru

more beach Mancora

more beach Mancora

wearing a video camera yesterday, because it was one of those days I  want to remember.

First there was the swimming with the tortugas. The goodness was two-fold. The first was that I was not alone, which is frequently the case when I’m traveling. I was invited by Sebastian, a delightful young Colombian man who is working and living here at Psygon. When the  entire staff closed up shop and piled into the well-used car: four in the back and two in the front, I wondered, “Would they speak rapid Spanish and exclude me or was I really part of the party?”

As it turned out, language had no bearing on the experience. They were sharing with me. Paloma and I, girls to the core, thought the tortugas were scary and yelled every time one of them came close. After all, there were all those warning signs. When we yelled, the guys laughed. It was so typical and, I might add, had nothing to do with the weaker sex, for certainly we aren’t.

The other thing is that I wasn’t patronized in any way-ever. If I had asked for help  it would have been freely given. But, I didn’t, so it wasn’t.

After we got home I decided to go for a bottle of vino. Surprise. I walked  the 100 feet to the  beach. the wind was blowing sand around. Standing there, shielding their eyes from the stinging sand, were two girls, maybe 9 or 10. They asked me where I was going. I told them to the store for wine. They said they would go with me, that I was fuerte,(strong), and they would be seguro (safe) with me. hahaha.

We walked, talking and laughing. I found out that they live in the barrio close to the hostel. that they are Essie and Mia. They learned  I have daughters and grandkids in the US, that my name is Ruby.  I had no camera with me. I was just going doing a quick  wine run. We saw a huge elephant seal dead on the beach. It was looking straight at us, its tongue hanging out. Really creepy we all agreed.

When the beach ended, I started up the sand into an empty lot to a street I assumed was there somewhere. Mia and Essie stopped me. They pointed to the rocky sea wall in front of the buildings blocking the way to the next small beach. Piled sand bags interspersed with the rocks. The tide was coming in, splashing over them pounding into the buildings. “Prisa! ” (hurry). I leapt like a gazelle over the sand before the next wave arrived, and jumped onto the first batch of  bags. The girls were behind me.  After the sand bags, came the rocas-big slippery ones. Essie took the lead, then Mia. As we laughed and jumped like mountain goats over the rocks, she sometimes reached back to give me a hand. “Come, Mama.” So sweet.

At the end was a small beach. Standing there was a woman in a big flowered hat and equally big sunglasses, who I thought for a minute was their mom, but who turned out to be an Asian tourist. She was surprised to see us emerge from the rocks.

“That was fun,” I laughed. “You’re American,” she assumed. “Yes. These girls are great! They are bonito and muy fuerte.” The girls smiled. “They are Peruvian?” “Yes. They are fabulous.” She was surprised to find a wet  American grandmother climbing over rocks with Peruvian children?

I thanked the girls and went to find the wine store. On the way back to the hostel I stopped and bought a bag of sweet buns. I decided to walk through the barrio, and got lost. After getting directions from some guys hanging out  on a porch, I rounded the corner that they said would lead me to the hostel. There were Essie and Mia! just coming back from their afternoon frolic. They were hungry, coming home to eat. I opened my bag and offered them buns. They each took one, thanked me and went on.

Often in other countries, I am asked for money by children. Not here in Peru. I have been over charged by taxis, but not often. Peruvians, like their ancestors, are a proud people, they don’t beg-at least where I have been so far. The folks I’ve met have been open, honest and giving.

The exchanges I’ve had have been genuine. I’ve had intimate conversations with a few folks now, and have made friends. Each place I go, I find it difficult to leave.

 

 

 

 

Off the Beaten Path/The Kindness of Strangers

The beaten path is referred to as  the gringo trail,  places that are listed in the guide books. Currently I’m working my way to the western coast of South America, heading across northern Peru. Chachapoyas, the capital of Amazonas named for the warrior people is  nestled in the mountains that are  dotted with their ancient ruins and monuments.  It’s listed, but I couldn’t find anything to tell me how to get here.

In Tatapoto I got up early,  packed, found coffee, and took my stuff to the corner where I could find a tuktuk to carry me to the bus station. As it turns out, no busses come directly here. My Spanish was not fluent enough in listening to understand details, but I was told by two clerks at major bus stations to go to Chiclayo (12 hours) and double back to Chachapoyas (another 9 hours). What??! Besides, the busses leaving wouldn’t depart until that evening.

Only an idiot would go for that. I dragged my muletta across the rocky , dirt parking lot to a hostel I’d spotted from the tuk tuk. It was a hostel/bus stop for Peruvians. A bus that one need only hold out ones hand and it stopped. the clerks told me that I needed to go to Pedro Ruiz and take another bus to Chachapoyas-to hurry the bus was loading, leaving in a few minutes. For 40 soles, about 11 dollars I got a ticket and jumped on board. Pedro Ruiz was not on my map nor listed in the guide book. I had no idea where it was, or how far it was from Chacha, but I was no the bus. I settled into the lumpy seat and relaxed.

Along the way, the bus stopped. The driver called a 15 min break so I got off to pee. As I was exiting the bano, the bus was pulling out. Yelling, I chased it down. I was barely in my seat, and he was in 2nd or 3rd gear. Suddenly he screeched to a stop. The woman and her son who had been sitting across from me climbed on. He was leaving them too. They had been eating when they saw the bus round the corner. We shook our heads, and laughed.

At Pedro  Ruiz, a man pointed me to the garage wherecolectivo busses left for

. I was walking down the street looking for it when another man, asked me where I was going. When I told him, he took my bag, and led me there. At the garage, a woman looked at me and said Chachas? Si. A few minutes later I was on a packed  bus with tourists, Indigenous folks, and locals going to villages in the mountains, heading in to my destination. Piece of cake.

 

 

 

The slow boat to Iquitos. Rumors. Blah.

The rumors abound: watch your stuff every minute or you will be robbed, the mosquitos are voracious and will eat you alive, the food gross, the noise deafening. Ah.

The minute the cab dropped  me off at the port in Leticia, Alex, a young man offered to carry my heavy roll-along bag across the island to the boats. For about a dollar and a bottle of water, he not only carried the bag, he found me a boat. Along the short walk, he asked a thousand questions about the US. He was especially interested in Las Vegas. Young men used-back in the day- to be interested in Hollywood.

I was safely, for if you are to believe the rumors again, the boats are unsafe, the drivers reckless. Personally,  I believe people who make their lives on the sea are some of the must cautious, reverential folks on the planet. So, I arrived on the muddy bank of the Amazon in Peru. A short mototaxi to the customs office, and I was legal for the next 90 days.

Now I had several hours to kill before boarding the boat. Lunch with locals on a picnic table in front of a hardware store, carried there in styrofoam coolers by moto taxi. It was delicious chicken, beans, rice, and totally fresh salsa. She allowed me to pick out the piece of chicken I wanted!

After lunch I still had a few hours. I stopped at a restaurant that was obviously closed, but the owner saw me and welcomed me to come in. I told him I had a few hours, he offered me the hammock over looking the marsh and river. “Se puede descansar en la hamaca. ” I ordered a cold beer and took him up on the offer. I napped, feeling safe and content.

I stood on a steep bank looking at two boats. The Gran Diego and the Maria Fernandez.  Porters raced to and fro, up and down the steep hill laden with enormous burdens. These young men grow old fast.

I started downhill to the MF because it was the closest. My roll- on wanted to roll away, and my heavy backpack pushed me forward. A man, Manolo, came along beside me, took the former, and carried it to the top deck(actually next to top because the top was used by the crew). He then hung my hammock, shook my hand and went to his,  I assume.

Later that day, he came to visit me, but the minute he sat down on the bench at the end of my hammock and gave me a little wave, a woman traveling with her son sat beside him. She talked and talked. Finally he left. My chance of the Maria Fernandez becoming a love boat dashed before departure.

I still hadn’t bought a ticket. I asked a guy in a hammock where and when that happened. “Mas tarde.” Lol.

More people boarded. Finally, Rene, a Canadian/Italian man, hung his hammock next to m

The Gran Diego

The Gran Diego

Ruby con sansia

Ruby con sansia

My foot among hammocks

My foot among hammocks

Rene eating gruel

Rene eating gruel

Peruvian ferry across the river to Santa Rosa

Peruvian ferry across the river to Santa Rosa

View from hammock in Santa Rosa

View from hammock in Santa Rosa

The closed restaurant photo from hammock

The closed restaurant photo from hammock

image

El Gran Diego

El Gran Diego

ine. We were the only passengers not from Colombia or Peru.