Continued from Part One.
We left Chachapoyas in a taxi, bound for the little town of Pedro Ruiz. We were early, very early, for the bus to Taropoto, so we walked the length of this one-donkey town, stopped at a restaurant for something fried and delicious, and settled into the bus station to wait. And wait.
Most of our experiences with Peruvian busses had been good, with an on time accuracy airlines should envy, but this one was late. We lounged in hard plastic chairs, watched something horrible on the news, and smoked cigarettes while we waited.
At one point, as I stepped outside, yet another ciggie in hand, I looked up into the hard, bright sky and saw something I had never seen before. It was a rainbow around the sun, and I called Will out to see it. He called it a “sun dog” and I was entranced, risking my eyesight to stare it down.
Soon after, the bus arrived, and the passengers began to file off to eat their lunch in the small bus stop cafe. However, this group of passengers was riled up, one woman in particular. She shouted, in Spanish, that a group of men seated behind her on the bus has stolen her mobile phone. A lacquered pink, long fingernail jabbed the air and she shouted for justice. Other passengers rolled their eyes, but when the police arrived, people began to get pissed. We were going to be REALLY late now.
The police spent almost an hour, searching the passengers, searching the bus, and just when things were about to blow sky high, the woman’s sister comes running in, holding the bright pink phone. “It was under the seat!”, she said, laughing. No one was laughing when we finally boarded the bus, and the woman who had laid the accusations came up the steps. She was booed and cursed, even as she tried to apologize. I just wanted to get on the road.
As we had boarded the bus midway on its journey, Will and I did not have seats together. I sat next to a young Peruvian man, and Will was a few seats behind me. As the bus lumbered out of town, and wound its way higher and higher into the green mountains, I noticed a smell. Was it coming from the toilet at the back of the bus?
As the man next to me began to squirm in his seat, and turn away from me to fiddle with the waistband of his pants, I began to suspect he was having a problem. He tried very hard not to meet my eyes as he continued to fuss with his clothing, then he stood up to move past me, and I realized what was going on. He had a colostomy bag, and it wasn’t working properly. He clutched his hands to his front as he rushed to the lavatory at the back of the bus. I felt so badly for him, since he spent most of the rest of his portion of the ride at the back of the bus. When we stopped for a bit in Moyobamba and braved the hordes of people selling everything from sodas to endangered species, I did not see that young man get back on the bus.
We arrived in Tarapoto with just enough time to eat and sleep, and hurry through the next morning to catch the collectivo to Yurimaguas, where we would board the boat bound for Iquitos. Will, myself and several men and bags were jammed like sardines into a small station wagon, trailing trucks with people perched precariously in the beds and on the sides. As we made our way higher, it became evident that the landscape was changing, as it became much more lush and tropical. The road was twisted and terrifying, but as we descended from the highlands into the town of Yurimaguas, I knew our adventure was just beginning.
Next Time: La Vaca!, we should have bought the electric kettle, and crazy coke dealers.