Written by: Jeff McMahan
I will be reliving most when I speak about the Mototaxi Junket. Today was the day that started off grand, and turned to shit so fast your were neck deep before you knew it. We thought we were on target to make some good time today, left by 8am and the day was beautiful one. The road we were on was a dirt road, but was considered a major highway. Hey, at least it was graded, for the most part. We stopped at several forks in the road, and after speaking with one or two folks and consulting the map, we continued on. We ended up so high that the landscape could have been mistaken for the moon, NOTHING was growing up there. The Warriors, Travis and I took some highlight photos of the trip atop this mountain range, snow capped peaks within view.
All excited to hit the paved highway, we continued our way down the mountain. Wasn’t until we were on the other side at the gate of a mining facility the we found out we took a wrong turn. I was point man, so I put that on myself. We figured screw it, there is more than one way to skin a cat and as we were already on this route that would eventually take us to the city we had planned for, we continued forward. Once again we were hit by the Peruvian genius of which way to point A. An Ambulance driver and two co-passengers told us to take the right fork, which was the way they were going. We would pass through 3 mining towns but that we would get there, and they would help us along the way. So we drive 45 minutes to the gate of the mining town #1. Guard tells us we went the wrong way, should have taken the “other” fork. So we backtrack, buy some gas out of some woman’s house, and continue forth. Then the rain comes.
Driving on mining roads in the rain is no fun, think logging roads, no difference except instead of trees there are 1000 foot drop offs with turns that have no guard rails. We traverse the wilderness and one lane blind turns that would have meant certain death if a truck was oncoming. There were over 200 of those turns. Then the hail comes. Then we slip our chain, twice, and change the ole’ sparkplug. Then it hails on us again. Now the temperature starts dropping, the puddles grow larger and more ominous. We fjord a river to get to the other moutain range. Now the rain comes heavy. We are 7km away from the town we have decided to hole up in, and the nice old gentleman and wife explain how to get there. Take a left, go over the pass, come down on the other side, follow the river, and you will be there. We do as he says. He is completely wrong, 180 degrees. We didn’t figure this out until after we crossed over the mountain pass, 30 minutes later. Then the hail comes again, and twilight starts.
So we sputter our way back over the pass. By this time our MT “Charlie” is throwing a tantrum. It has rained so long and hard that in between the chain slipping off, the kill switch automatically goes off, a victim of the waterlogged electronics. Nothing like stalling up a muddy pass at a 45 degree incline. Lots of pushing ensued to get back over the pass and onto the right road. I looked for that old man to run him over, but he had since taken his leave, no clue if he was screwing with us, or just plain stupid. Either way, it was now dark, we had seven kilometers to go in blackness, through roads that were now either muddied or had rivers crossing over them and into the canyon below. We came across a taxi driver who led us into town a few miles out. Yep, still raining.
I was wearing two pairs of wool socks, thinking I was clever this mornig, keep my toes warm. Ever had wool socks get wet? S-U-C-K-S…my feet were two walking sponges. So the nice taxi man gets us into town, where I stall several times, and then the Warriors join in on the fun as there MT start to be pissed about being out playing in the rain all day. We finally make it to the hostel where we were going to hole up for the night. No vacancy. It begins to downpour. We go back the way we came and come across another hostel. No vacancy. This is becoming increasingly funny. Finally, third time is a charm, we find one, the last one in town, with rooms available. Course the neighbor seems to have a thing about blowing stuff up. Explosions have been going off every hour since we arrived.
I am too cold to really care though. Our bodies have gone through several elevation changes, along with sun, wind, rain, and hail today. All we care about is getting one step closer to the finish line tomorrow. Maybe we will accomplish that, as long as we dont ask for directions. Should have brought my Garmin. Night all.