Sunday, August 27, 2017

Meeting Dante on my Way From the Cloud Canyon

View of a Canyon from Huancas
This is the story about how I met Dante, a local construction worker who took me on his motorbike for a ride - where we both fell into a trench and got muddied.

I wanted to do something with my time; I was spending too much time doing nothing, mainly because it was pouring rain like Noah's Flood in the Cloud City. And I didn't want to get wet and soaked.

There are two famous sites by the Cloud City: Kuelap, the ruins of an ancient pre-Incan city and Gocta - the third largest waterfall in the world. (I'll write later on this.)

My Asian MacGyver Picture
I wanted to go to Gocta, but it kept pouring.
But I really wanted to go. I had Gocta all mapped out, but the workers at the hostel told me it was impossible to go, because there wasn't enough time. But I wanted to go. Another person told me there wasn't enough time to go and make it back. But I wanted to go.

But finally, the hostel owner called me and cut me off, while I explained my plan. (I could tell he was a control freak.) He told me how to get to the waterfall on my own, but said I needed more time or I wouldn't return. Instead, he recommended I go to the local village about 7 miles away and to see the view of the canyon.

I relent and go and take a colectivo to Huancas, the local village. From there, I hike up a hill to see a view of the canyon. It's cloudy and misty and drizzling. Some local tourists from another part of Peru are also there and taking photos the way tourists do. (They remind me of Chinese tourists taking pictures of everything.)

After, I walk down a trail, hoping it'll lead me back to the Cloud City. I walk for about half an hour. But then the fog rolls in, and I realize it's too dangerous for me to go further. The myst transforms the forest into a ghost forest. I could be stuck there in the evening, and then I'd stay up all night and be cold without food and water. Forget it. I backtracked back to the village.

I ask the lady at the front of the road where the track leads. She says it doesn't go to the city. Instead, it goes to the bottom of the canyon - where the river is. I think to myself, I'm glad I didn't take that track back. Then, I'd be in real trouble. 

At the village, a lady at a restaurant wanted to sell me a deep fried guinea pig. Although I was adventurous trying the ant cocktail, for now, I passed on the guinea pig. (It was expensive too.)

Instead, I had some of the local sausage, and it tasted really hearty and rich and fat and crispy. It was wonderful. Later, I'd crave more of it.

After, I wanted to walk back. I needed some exercise. So, I walked on the roads - getting wet and muddy and cold. I probably walked about 4 miles, when a guy in his late twenties or early thirties on motorcycle went passed me and stopped. He asked me if I wanted a ride. I wasn't going to take it, because I needed the exercise. But I did, because I didn't want to refuse someone who was being kind.

I hopped on the bike, right behind him. But I couldn't find my wallet in my pocket. And as I was trying to get off the motorbike to find my wallet, I dragged my rider down with me. We both fell in the mud. We were really muddy. My driver only laughed. (Remember; I only just met this guy and accepted his ride and now I dragged him down with me.)

I found my wallet in my pocket. I hopped back on. He was worried he could get a ticket for riding me back into town because I didn't have a helmet on. There were some local children playing in the dirt about 100 meters away. My rider asked them, "Are there any police officers around the corner?"

"No," they said.

So, he rode me on his motorbike. I knew the guy was a good person, because he didn't mind I made him fall in the mud. He was laughing. There was now mud on my legs and shorts and shoes. His pants were also muddied.

On the bike ride he told me that his name was Dante and that he was a construction worker who had a wife and three children.

He dropped me off at the outskirts in town, because he didn't want a cop citing him for me not wearing a helmet. He told me to come see him. His wife worked near a local bakery by the bus terminal.

I asked him, "But doesn't her restaurant have a name?"

"No," he said. "It doesn't. But I'm sure you'll find it."

I thought to myself - how am I going to find this place with such little information?

I walked for about a half mile, and I was back in the main plaza of the Cloud City. I went to my hostel and removed my wet clothes as fast as I could.

I dried myself and put on some dry clothes. It felt so good to not feel soaked anymore.

I heard a bird screech outside my room. Outside was a French couple in their 30's smoking. The guy had dreadlocks and was tall. The girl was small.

I asked them in Spanish - "What is it?" (I didn't know they were French at the time.)

The guy said, "I don't know."

"Is it a bird?"

"I think so."

I needed some red wine. I walked around town looking for my favorite Peruvian wine. It wasn't raining anymore. I found it and took it back to the hostel. I started drinking a glass.

The French guy saw me drinking. I asked him if he wanted a glass. He said, "Sure." I poured him a glass. We started talking.

His girlfriend saw us. I asked her if she would like a glass. She said, "Yes," too. I poured her a glass. And then we began talking through the night. . .

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