Thursday, March 6, 2008
Pregnant Cow? What?
Leimembamba, Perú Wednesday March 5th 10am
Where to begin in describing yesterday´s adventures? Well, I guess I could say there is a minibus that travels from Celendín to Balsas to Leimembamba to Chachapoyas on Sundays and Thursdays. Yesterday was Tuesday. So we resorted to using the good ole thumb which is available seven days a week!
We went to the city center where all the trucks and cars pass, asking any truck if they were headed to Leimembamba because it´s easy to find a ride from there to Chacapoyas. Eventually we found a truck, the size of a dumptruck, that was headed to Balsas. He said from there we would find a truck to Leimembamba.
I started climbing the side of the truck and looked down inside and noticed hay. Then I saw what he was transporting. Looking me in the eye while licking its lips was a huge and very pregnant cow. I knew then we had chose the right truck.
We drop our luggage in the bottom with the cow and go sit on the top with the 4-5 other passengers. I´m sitting on a bamboo pole lengthwise in the middle but at the top of the truck, 15 feet. I´ve got a good stance with my feet though, so it was safe. Don´t worry Mom.
We start the ascent up the mountain and literally the road is more like a gravel path barely wide enough for this truck to fit. Occasionally there were places that were wider so if trucks met, one could back into one of these places while the other one passes.
And we are going up! Way up! It was getting cold, but the views were like nothing I´ve ever seen. The mountains of MachuPicchu were a bit more impressive, but these mountains had huge valleys! I´ve never seen so much land in my life, never seen such wide and farfetching landscapes.
By this point we are a bit nervous because we are literally on the side of this mountain 12,000 feet high! Pike´s peak is 14,000 feet high, only we aren´t skiing but riding in a mac truck with a pregnant cow. So we put on some jackets and just enjoyed the ride. What else was to be done? And I´d have to say it is easily in the top three as far as rides go in my lifetime. The combination of the wind in my face, the bamboo seat, astonishing views, and the smell of cattle, all while knowing that I´m in rural rural Perú was simply breathtaking. Exactly the kind of travelling I´m looking for. And though it wasn´t a truck full of chickens, hitchhiking with a pregnant cow has its own merit.
The trip took about 4-5 hours and coming down the mountain was interesting. We started in the gray cloud covered forests in the top of the mountain and descended into a pleasant lush green forest. Continuing the descent we ended up in desert with cactuses, sand, hot sun, and jack-rabbits. Just kidding about the jack-rabbits, but don´t think I wasn´t looking for them. We we finally arrived in Balsas we were back in T-shirts getting sunburns.
1. Apparently Collective Soul played in Lima a couple of weeks ago. The sold out a stadium and had an autograph line 30 BLOCKS LONG!!! They signed autographs from 2-7 pm!!! So if you´re dating a peruvian around Christmas, think the Dosage album.