Thursday, July 7, 2011

Stuck on the road

Okay, Monday night we were off on the (slightly) postponed trip to Cuzco.  All was well until about 10 pm, when we came to a stop, causing everyone to wake up.  The driver announced the dreaded words--"No hay pase."  (We can`t pass through here--or "we`re stuck")

 Instantly everyone wanted to know why, and wanted the door to open.  People got out and walked around, including Mike and Chris.  I had gotten off the bus the last time we had trouble on the way to Cuzco and wound up leaping across a river on rocks, so I stayed on.  They and everyone else walked until the mud became to slippery to walk through, and came back.  All they could report was very slippery mud, and a sound of rushing water.  And a huge line of buses and trucks stopped at this place
.
Speculation ran rampant.  One woman was sure that a bus had gone through from another line.  Another was sure that passenger vans were going through.  One man announced confidently that no one could go through.  The driver announced that he was going to have a car sent from Abancay, and we would have to do a "trasbordo" (the passengers carry their luggage past the obstacle and board a bus that carries them on to their destination.)  but he was firm that this could not happen during the night.
Everyone slept in snatches, waking up at intervals to complain.  One time a man took his luggage and got off declaring that he would walk until he found a way there.
About 3 am a man went by shouting "Abancay!  Abancay!"  He pried the bus door open and announced for people who could walk a good ways he had a taxi that could take 5 or 6 people to Abancay.  A woman who was taking a baby to a clinic for medical attention said she would go.  The man said it would be very difficult with a baby.  Another woman said she would go, but was told she had too much luggage and it would be "difficult."  Then said that only one handbag or back pack would be possible.  Finally the woman with a baby, her young daughter, and a few others left.

When the sun came up, the driver announced the trasbordo.  Everyone got out with their luggage and started slogging through the mud.  Soon the first ones to get to the other bus were back.  The other driver didn't want to do the switch.  As this situation reoccurred all up and down the line of buses, everyone began to concentrate on removing the obstacle--a tractor-trailer that had slid into a steep ditch and gotten its wheels mired trying to back out.  There was space enough for a man on foot to pass between the end of the trailer and a steep dropoff.

Finally an empty flatbed truck was persuaded to try to pull the truck out.  Some men had already dug the wheels that were on the road free and put rocks in front of them.  All the men that were available were recruited to stand on the flatbed to give it weight.   Since the line of stopped vehicles was now very long, it was no problem to recruit bus passengers and truck drivers, including Mike and Chris, until the flatbed was full, and with heave pulled the truck free!

All the now-muddy passengers climbed aboard their buses!  We were off to Cuzco!

We passed several other trucks off the road, but they were not blocking it.  We arrived only 9 hours late.  Travel is always an adventure.