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Friday, May 3, 2013

Remembering 1978 trip.

We did nothing note worthy yesterday. Just went into town and bought MORE plants and a couple squirrl wheels. So I'm going to include an excerpt from our 1978 trip to South America with the kids in a 24' motorhome. This particular part is when we were in the country of Peru. It was a great trip. At that time we were traveling with several other people who were on their way to southern South America.

Along the way we stopped at an “Aunt Jemima” the ruins of Chan Chan just outside of Trujillo. Fascinating. We took a guided tour and roamed around for quite a while. The guide pointed out walls over 20 feet high that have been standing since 1000 AD. They have withstood the weather and many, many earthquakes. She described how some of the rooms were built by filling them with sand and then building the ceilings, then taking the sand out. We saw a water purifying system just outside the city walls. It was a large basin that filled with water from the sea. The water would be purified as it seeped through the earth to reach the basin. The decorations on the walls were beautiful. Mostly geometric carvings. The way the rooms and hallways were built led to a natural air conditioning from the prevailing winds.

Some photos from Chan Chan http://www.movingon1.com/chanchanphotos.html
Randy (leave it to him) found a bone yard, hundreds of human bones, we don’t know why they were there. Paul found a piece of real pottery. He gave it to the guide. It made us feel pretty insignificant.
More desolate road ahead. After 260 miles we again stopped at a gas station for the night in Chimbote. We were joined by everyone but Maynard and Frenchie. There was only one place in town to eat and Klaus and the guys went over there. They were soon back. Klaus tried to eat but the food was so bad even he gave up. The meat, a combination of pork and goat, had been kept in the back room with out benefit of refrigeration. The cooking did not help it.
So there they were all standing around outside hungry as could be. Guess who got to cook dinner for 13 of us. Little old me. I used all of our bacon and pancake batter and eggs. But everyone got full. And they did the dishes.
Still on our way to Lima, another 300 miles south.
Bill has been complaining about the shape of the highway saying he can’t wait to get into Argentina where the roads were so better. We were all looking forward to that.
There still was not much in the way of scenery; desert with a few plants here and there. Lots of dust devils blowing about. We were starting to see sand dunes too. We passed through some small villages, just two rows of buildings, one row on each side of the road. Some of the buildings were brightly painted, in blues and pinks. By then we had driven 7,641 miles since leaving Los Angeles. Not counting the boat and airplane distance.
We were kind of in a hurry as it was already April. Winter was fast approaching and we had to cross the Andes into Argentina before it snowed. This reversal of the seasons seemed so strange to me.
We made it into Lima by early afternoon. The soccer van and Klaus were behind us.
We all stayed on the beach in Miraflores a suburb, a ways from downtown Lima. It was a very nice area, big homes, a tennis club and several restaurants. Several of the Embassies were located not far from the beach where we were parked.

Mark, Robert, Paul and Klaus decided to go into town for dinner, Randy and John Mc went with them. And who should they run into? Maynard and Frenchie. The car was giving them problems and they couldn’t get to a mechanic until the next day, Monday. Bill and I stayed in the motorhome with the kids and relaxed. It had been a long day. Bill did a lot of the cooking as we traveled. Anything that could be bar-b-qued he prepared on the outside grill.
It was also the only time during the whole trip that we had any thing stolen from us. John Mc left his tennis shoes outside under the motorhome for the night. In the morning they were gone.
Monday morning Bill went into town with Mark to the American Consulate. He wanted to check for mail, there was none, and find out about the road to Bolivia. He found out there was no way we could take the motorhome to Bolivia, the roads just weren’t good enough and the altitude would cause engine problems. In the meantime, the trailer was unhooked and John Mc and Randy took the motorhome to gas it, fill it with water and get the spare tire for the trailer fixed. I stayed on the beach and stayed with the kids and the trailer. They loved it. The weather was nice.

After Bill got back he really checked the generator and found out the fuel pump was okay it was just a hole in a line. A new line and the problem was fixed.
We went into Miraflores to buy groceries and eat at El Gaucho restaurant. It was very fancy and owned by a couple from Argentina. That was an experience. As usual while we were eating we all spoke in English. When we got the check Bill was looking it over before paying and there was a 25% charge on it. He called the waiter over and asked about it.
“Tax,” replied the waiter.
“Tax? 25%?” repeated Bill. Then the conversation switched to Spanish. Voices were rising and hands were gesturing. Bill handed the check to the waiter who just shrugged and took it to the back. When he returned the “Tax” had been removed. Maybe it was a tourist thing.
Off to a supermarket. Again there was no milk available. I forgot to mention before - the milk came in soft, clear plastic one liter bags. The first time I opened one I ended up with about a cup of milk still in the bag, the rest as on the counter and floor. We discovered that the stores sold hard plastic containers that you could put the bag in and then open it. The container came about two thirds the way up the bag. It also had a handle to make for easier pouring. Eventually we got pretty good at it. We still couldn’t buy beef. Just as an aside, we never found grape jelly, peanut butter or Salad Dressing (you know like mayonnaise) south of Mexico.
By the time we got back to the beach it was starting to drizzle. Tomorrow everyone would be leaving except for Maynard. He had to stay longer as the car still wasn’t ready.
The next morning as we were leaving Lima I got another lesson in “The Biggest”. We were passing through a very narrow street and a small truck was heading towards us. The buildings ended at the street, there were no shoulders, no where to go so Bill just kept driving. Both vehicles moved as far to the right as they could but continued forward progress. Scrunch! Contact with the truck - he stopped, brought his hands up off his steering wheel in the international gesture of “Sorry” and then backed up waving us forward. He backed into a wider space and we passed him. No words were spoken and we continued on. I was horrified! “We hit him,” I said.
“He was at fault, we had the right of way,” replied Bill. “Didn’t you see him say he was wrong? Besides we barely touched him.”

The kids will learn so much. And on we went.
Once out of Lima we were back in the desert - sand dunes every where. In a few places the sand had drifted across the road. It was kind of spooky driving through it - almost like driving on ice. The wheels would slip and slid. Every once in a while we would come across a bulldozer pushing the sand back into the desert. We’d have to stop or slow down until they finished and moved out of our way.

Once in a while there would be a splotch of green - an oasis. Around these areas there would be small farms of cotton fields in bloom.
A couple of hundred miles south of Lima we came to the Nazca Lines and stopped for awhile. There is a wooden observation tower built out in the desert just off the road. You can climb to the top and from there some of the lines are visible. (We took several pictures and wouldn’t you know those rolls were some of the ones lost by the developer in Argentina.) We were awestruck. Why are they there? Who made them? Someday I hope to revisit them.
Back on the road. We were climbing some again. Up hills through tunnels and down hills. This was much more exciting than it sounds. The tunnels were cut through the solid rock. And from a distance they didn’t look big enough for us to fit through. As we got closer we could see the raw scrapes on the top and sides where the big trucks had passed through. One tunnel in particular stands out in my mind. We went up the hill, passed through the tunnel and had to made a hairpin (and I mean hairpin) right turn. We all grabbed on to our seats as we checked out the drop off to our left.

“Dad! Look out!” yelled Paul as he pointed out the windshield. Coming up the road ON OUR SIDE was a big 18-wheeler tanker truck.
Bill pulled as far to the left as he could and the truck zoomed past us, careened around the turn and disappeared into the tunnel. No wonder there were 17 crosses on this part of the road. More hairpin turns came up. We dropped about 3000 feet in altitude in less than a mile.

After over 350 miles we stopped at a truck stop for the night. The soccer van and Klaus were already there. Sometime during the night the Volvo showed up.
This was to be the last time we saw Maynard and Frenchie. Robert, Mark and Paul also took off before us, but as happened so many times before we caught up to them in Vitor. They were stopped at a café eating breakfast waiting for us to say Good Bye. This is where we split up. They headed west to Arequipa then on to Bolivia and we continued south towards Chile.
The road to the border was much the same; parts again covered with a couple inches of shifting sand, crosses at the curves and more narrow bridges.
We were getting low on water in the tank and had not been able to find any so we stopped at one little village in the middle of no where and asked if there was water available. The town had a single water pump just outside of town and the townspeople offered to share it with us. They brought the water to us by the wooden bucket full. Bill poured it into the motorhome’s water tank using my little yellow plastic kitchen funnel. It took a while but was worth it. As I mentioned before we would purify it with Clorox. It was an amazing sight - a line of women and children carrying their buckets from the pump to the motorhome. Wonderful people. We tried to pay them and they refused. We finally gave the children Double Bubble gum and the women American magazines. They were thrilled.
On this stretch of the road the towns were few and far between. And when we did find one it was usually just a truck stop with a few houses around it. Just lots of desert and sand.
We stayed that night in Moquegua at a police check point. In the morning Bill asked one of the police men where we could throw our trash as we couldn’t find any dumpsters. The police man told him to just throw it any where in the desert. It didn’t sound right to us but lacking any where else to put it that’s what we did.
By now we were almost to the border with Chile. We arrived there around noon.



5 comments:

  1. I have read all of your 1978 adventure.
    I enjoyed the story and the perspective of
    the story teller, lol. I suggest you use
    todays internet resources and publish an
    ebook. YOu could surely sponsor a Nascar or
    Soccor Team. Thankyou for sharing your
    adventure with me.
    Sincerely Charles Bean

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  2. I, too, read your whole 1978 saga - long before you met my friend George in Aticama. I was so impressed that he knew you, because I was totally impressed with your account. I agree that you should publish an ebook. There are some small spelling, grammar, and construction issues that a good editor could clean up, and you'd have a hell of a book! P

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  3. BTW, those irises look gorgeous!

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  4. I am new to your blog, but I love this story and can relate to the places in Peru. I have been there 3 times on Mission trips to Chimbote. While there we stayed longer than the actual mission and did some side trips. I love the people and the country. This winter I hope to spend in Mexico. I have been reading many blogs and hope to meet some of the people.
    Thanks for sharing your stories
    Wendy

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    Replies
    1. We will probably be spending winter in Mexico too. Be nice to meet you.

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