Written by: Diana Windfeldt-Schmidt
We had been warned and encouraged to bring our own power banks. But it still surprised me, how far from civilization we were – in a world far from our own…
+24 Hours in Bus
I remember the first moments of the journey, when we boarded a coach in Lima in the middle of the night and 10 hours later had to change coach in a smaller city, Trujilio, in the northern part of Peru. Early in the morning we arrived to Chachapoyas and once again had to change vehicle. All of us including our luggage were stuffed inside a minibus after a short supply break. We travelled through the mountains on small roads of gravel or asphalt to the city named Rodriguez de Mendoza.
When you are from a small country as Denmark, where there are no mountains, you can become quite dazzled by such a trip. After many hours of travel, we were once again unloaded in a city that looked like something from a western movie in Mexico. That is the best way to describe Rodriguez de Mendoza. Now we were so far from everything, that even the bus terminal did not look like a western bus terminal. The minibus had just passed through a small gate and ended up in a backyard, where a puny shed was put up and labelled as a ticket office/kiosk. Single-pack toilet paper was a thing you could buy everywhere here, and my eyes caught the glimpse of the trivial packages in this shop as well. The dusty backyard was already hectic with traffic and people were constantly driving in and out on their scooters.
We awaited our final vehicle because the journey was far from over. Two Pick-up trucks arrived. They had 3 seats in the back and 2 in the front. In the best tetris style, we managed to squeeze in 4 people at the back and 2 in the front. Despite the effort, 4 people still had to sit at the cargo box of the truck with all the luggage. Luckily, the weather was sunny and nice. We drove for 3 hours at even smaller and more curvy gravel roads than before. It was not the first time that the drivers had been on these roads, because the speed was way higher than any of the passengers would have dared to drive.
Out here, far from the nearest city, I could no longer see any streetlights, but small wooden houses and sheds appeared along the road. The gravel road suddenly ended and merged with a cattle track that disappeared into the deep jungle. Still I had not realized how far away we were, because of the many impressions…
Our luggage was packed on mules, so we only had to carry smaller bags. After 1½ hours trekking through the jungle along an old Inca road, the journey finally ended. Current Peruvians had settled next to an Inca outpost and the jungle had already reclaimed the ruins of the Inca houses, that were no longer visible in the landscape.
A World Far From Our Own
It was breathtaking and an impressive view when we emerged from the dense forestry. In front of us a meadow revealed itself, and the cattle tracks were the only paths, leading the way up to a 2-story wooden house. The house was placed on a little hill and uninsulated. It was at this moment I realized how far from civilization we were…
I would never have imagined that a place like this existed in the 21st Century. But here was a farm, together with a few others. They recently had installed their first solar panels, so they could recharge a mobile phone. There was no hot water or toilet with flush. The stove was just a constructed fireplace. Here all food was cooked and above the fire hang a stick with some meat to dry. It was simple and primitive, but it was their way of life and we would live here as well for the next 14 days, while excavating prehistoric ruins in their backyard.