We left Portland on March 27th. Jeff stayed back to bring home the bacon and send it to us so we could enjoy our glamorous beach vacation. Oh, and to pay the rent while we’re away. During the two weeks, we WhatsApp video chatted and sent a few emails, but truth be told he was sorely missed. Yesterday was the big arrival day. I took the kids to school and the plan was to drive to Cusco, do a little grocery shopping, and pick Jeff up to bring him back to Urubamba. One thing I am finding is that everything takes about twice as long in Peru. Our best laid plans got a wee bit derailed.
First of all, I didn’t leave Urubamba until noon. I had a “get to know you” meeting with Carmen’s teacher that started later and took longer than I had anticipated. Then I got pulled over by the police (stay tuned for a whole blog post about driving in Peru). Then I helped get my Mom over to Tio Hugo’s casita where she and my Dad will be staying. Then I had to put air in the tire that appears to have a slow leak. Finally, I left for Cusco. Happily, Tio Hugo was also driving back to Cusco so we planned for me to follow him. I figured I was ok getting from Urubamba to the outskirts of Cusco, but once there it is like a crazy labyrinth of one way streets, traffic circles, tourists, mini-busses, and taxicabs. I was happy to have him to follow.
I will digress only momentarily on the absolutely gorgeous drive. Here is what I wrote in my journal.
The sky was that brilliant blue and the clouds were whiter than white. They were like cotton balls and seemed so low in the sky I felt like I could reach up and touch them. So close, but a bit like a rainbow. Elusive. The yellow flowers lining the road popped out of the green and blue landscape like splashes of paint. So many yellow flowers. Every now and then I’d see a whole field of green with bright purple flowers topping off each stalk. I kept wanting to turn around, stop the car and just breath in the scenery below. The valley spreads out before you somewhere between Urubamba and Maras. The green mountains go on forever. Forever. And the colors are spectacular, all different shades of green and brown. The snow-covered mountains in the background seem to look down on the multicolored foothills like a cluster of old men playing checkers on the valley below—not too concerned with what’s happening around them but knowing their place at the top of the heap.
If I hadn’t been heading towards Cusco to see Jeff after two weeks apart, I might have stopped my car and sat in the afternoon splendor for the rest of the day. But alas, I had husband on the brain. And a real grocery store.
When I arrived to Cusco, Jeff was sleeping off his all-nighter flight. After a bit of lunch, I couldn’t contain myself anymore and I woke him up. He did not share my enthusiasm for the grocery store, or the home depot like-place we went first, but we were happy to be together. He told me his crazy travel story, about how he arrived to the Portland airport at 5:00 a.m. the morning of his flight, only to find upon check in that he did not have his passport. Ay caramba. All I could say was thank God I wasn’t there for that. Our super neighbor saved the day by entering our house, retrieving aforementioned passport from the photocopy machine where it had been left, then racing it to PDX with moments to spare. All before 6:30 a.m. Forever indebted, super neighbor. You know who you are.
Back in Cusco, we load the car with suitcases, our new table and chairs, and all the groceries I was thrilled to buy. Off to Urubamba we go! Oh, wait. First, we have to call a guy about a bike. Apparently, for the past month or so, Jeff has been in frequent contact with Bill the Cusco mountain bike guru. He found the perfect bike to rent for the next four months and we have to stop and see if we could strap it to the top of the car tonight. I call my Mom. “We’re going to be a little later than we thought.” Hugo winds us through Cusco traffic to the Gravity office on the other side of town. Bill the mountain bike guy isn’t there. He is having a beer with friends in the plaza. While Jeff and Hugo are inside chatting it up with Bill’s wife and kids, my dad and I wait in the car. We wait. And wait. The hazard blinkers are on, the car door is open so Dad can stretch his legs. Mountain bike Bill finally gets home, arrangements are made, money exchanges hands, a bike is secured to the top of the CRV. Bill and his wife disappear back into their house and as Hugo signals to turn into traffic I turn the key and nothing happens. Nada. Nothing. Zilch. The car is dead. We flag Hugo before he leaves us stranded. It’s dark and its getting pretty cold. And we are hungry.
Back at the ranch. . . my amazing, wonderful mother had picked the kids up from school and walked them home with the somewhat unrealistic expectation that we might be back in Urubamba by 4:00 p.m. I was planning on cooking dinner and we envisioned the kids frolicking with their long-lost Dad before bed. The reality is that we were just getting back from the grocery store in Cusco at 4:00. Loaded the car by 5:00. At Bill’s by 5:30. Attempted to leave Bill’s by 7:00. Now, at 7:30 we have a dead car battery on the side of the road with my hungry Dad in the backseat, and a kickass bike strapped to the top of our car. We were going nowhere fast. I called my Mom again. “Um, we haven’t left Cusco yet.”
Hugo zips off in his car saying something about a guy and a new battery and 300 soles. We wait. And wait some more. After what seems like a long, cold, dark time, Hugo returns with a new battery. Hallelujah! And even better, it works. The good news is that by the time we leave there is practically no traffic. The bad news is that by the time we get home, everyone is asleep. We were all exhausted.
The morning brought squeals of delight followed by everyone talking fast and loud about the adventures we’ve had so far. The stories continued through the walk to school. After we dropped the kids off, we came back to the house to do a little nesting. Jeff made a makeshift window for the giant hole above our kitchen door. He moved furniture around, put our new furniture together, and then reassembled the disassembled bike he brought from home. Yes, you heard that correctly, he brought a bike from home and rented a bike from Bill the mountain bike guy. I mean, you gotta have more than one bike in Urubamba, right?
Happy to have this guy here. Happy to be together again. Happy to start the real adventure.