Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Final: Day 2: Leaving Lima

Things go well, until they don't.

My bus leaves Lima at 5 p.m. But because Pope Francis is holding mass for over a million people in Lima at 4 p.m., I thought I would go to the bus station at noon. I tend to overplan things.

On my way to breakfast, I saw a poor legless guy in a wheelchair, begging for money. I thought about him a lot while eating. He has a below-the-knee amputation to his right leg, just like my estranged father. And although the beggar and my father couldn't be more different (one was Afro-Peruvian, the other Chinese), I saw a lot of similarities between them. When I walked out after breakfast, I gave the man all of my spare change. The palm of his hand was so rigid and flat, it didn't even feel like human flesh.

I spotted this old Plymouth on the street. There are not that many old American cars left in Peru.

My driver from yesterday drove me to the bus station. We talked about a lot of things and he asked me if I noticed that he was wearing a prosthetic. I did not. He had a below-the-knee amputation to his right leg, just like my father and the beggar.

All the worrying had been unnecessary. We made it to the bus station in less than 20 minutes. There was no traffic. The only people out were expats walking their dogs and abuelitas going to see Francis. I sat around all afternoon at the Cruz del Sur bus station/terraport.

The time had arrived. But instead of a double decker Cruz del Sur bus, I was scheduled to leave in this single story Brazilian bus. Must be some kind of partnership between the two companies.

This bus was to take me through Peru, Ecuador, and the southern half of Colombia. It had three drivers in their 50s. I describe them as Handsome Dad (he had stylish eyeglasses and could easily pass for an executive), Responsible Dad (he was the oldest and heaviest and had the most gravitas), and Joker Dad (he had a mustache and made everyone feel at ease).

In the photo below, all of the luggage was laid out for a drug sniffing dog. Who would smuggle cocaine INTO Colombia?

As we lined up to have our carry-ons searched, the man in front of me, an Argentinian named Jhon (who I had assumed was an American because of his looks and the way he dressed) had five bottles of booze confiscated from his backpack.

Within 15 minutes of leaving the bus station, our bus came to a halt. I thought we were just getting gas, so I just looked out my window for half an hour.

But we weren't moving. I got out and saw this. A radiator hose had broken off.

While we waited for help, we went to the gas station for snacks and water. We would wait for three hours.

The bus company's mechanic came in this Hilux.

He tried to improvise by cutting a piece of a plastic water bottle to replace the damaged hose. Thankfully, it did not work. So he went back to his shop to get the right part.

After dark, he came back, replaced the hose, and they filled up the radiator with coolant and buckets of water.

They used a Coke bottle to top off the radiator.

Jhon told me that at least the bus broke down in Lima and not in the middle of nowhere. Right.

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