Lima was too much city’ish and wanted to move to the interiors so I prepared to go to Arequipa (आरेकीपा) and left for the bus station. Arequipa is to the south east of Lima and a perfect base to visit the Colca canyon region. The taxi driver who drove me was thrilled to see someone from India. In broken English he was trying to tell me that he knew 3 Indian people who lived in Lima and that they were very nice. The taxis in Lima are supposedly not friendly, but this guy took me inside the bus terminal and showed me where I can purchase the tickets. He even thanked me with palms joined together and saying Namaste. How much do Indians know about Peruvian culture?
I took the bus company Cruz del Sur and traveled in their double decker bus that had good seats and facilities. They even served food on the bus – rice and chicken, which was pretty good. They eat lots of rice in Peru. I was sitting on the front seat of the top floor of the bus and there was a huge window in front of me. They also tried to brainwash me by playing 4 spanish movies (omg) on that 15 hour journey. But, I survived, and lived to tell the story 🙂
Traffic in Peru is worse than India. So if Canada is 10 on the degree of safe road conditions and Peru is 1, then India would be 2.5 (overly generalized), Israel would be 4 and Palestine 1.5… See, I can do a PhD research! I think there was a traffic jam even at Lima air strip. I was sitting on the upper floor of the bus right on the front seat (a huge window in front of me) and the driver was freaking me out. He cut thru the 2 lane road (Pan American Highway) inches away from the vehicle approaching from the other direction. After I remembered all the 33 crore Gods and Goddesses, I figured it was easier to just fall asleep. We desperately need a “God of Traffic” or “God of Travel”, is there any ‘yatra dev‘ (यात्रा देव) so that it would be easier to pray to him? I was making emergency plans to exit (just in case) and was about to talk about them to others, but they were snoring already. There was a nun (priestess- is there such a word?) on the other side with the cross firmly clenched in her palm – out of devotion or fear, only she knows, but I wished she didn’t choke little Jesus!
Lesson learnt – don’t sit on the front row of the bus. Also now I exactly know why they say ‘ignorance is bliss’. I grew wiser and in my subsequent trips I never took front row seats.
I made a good friend, my co-passenger in the bus, who helped me the next day to get a taxi and find my hostel. Arequipa was suddenly different – so much quieter, smaller, laid back and the air was crisp and cold.
Next: Arequipa, the city of artists. More pictures and less ramble 😉