Friday, October 5, 2012

Life on the Edge

We pulled into a truck stop on the outskirts of Nazca for a dinner of trucker's fare which we'd become familiar with. Massive portions of good home cooking for very little money. Mine was a pile of rice with a egg on it and a side of chicken and chips for eight soles - about $3.00 US.

After looking around for alternative accommodation it became clear we'd have to share the truck's cabin. Fritz clambered into the upper deck and Zaya and I maneuvered ourselves top to tail on the lower bunk. It was cramped and cold and unfortunately Fritz suffers from sleep apnea. The long pauses between the gasping, rattling snores were barely drowned out by my single remaining earplug. He didn't stop Zaya sleeping, however. Zaya later learned that she had broken her tailbone when she fell through the skylight in Moyobamba. Not only was she in a lot of pain, but she couldn't sit comfortably for more than 30 minutes at a time. Chronic pain is very tiring, so it's no wonder she slept soundly.

4:00AM rolled around way too quickly and it was time to get going again. Having driven trucks in Peru for 40 years, Fritz is a survivor. It is no mean feat to have lived that long on those insanely treacherous roads, especially when you start driving at age 13. Both mornings we traveled with him Fritz followed the same routine. Starting at 5:00AM he walked around the truck, checking the tie downs and tires. Back in the cab, in the half light I watched him as he crossed himself and blew a kiss to the holy spirit. Then he carefully eased into first gear and the big semi started rolling. The bus crash was still fresh in my mind and I was grateful for his routines and his caution.

Fritz had arranged transportation of a load of chickens to a small village outside of Abancay, complete with the chicken wrangler. At the rendezvous I jumped out for a couple of bottles of water and some snacks, then helped load up the chickens. Unbeknownst to me, the chicken wrangler rode on the open trailer between the hens and our mototaxi. Peruvians still know how to have fun like we used to in America. They ride around in the back of open trucks and do crazy things like drive motorcycles without helmets. Truckers pull their seatbelts across their chests, but don't clip in. That's not for fun, though. That makes it easier to bail out of their cab if they go over a cliff.

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