(Meaning: “See ya later, yeah?”)
Fifty-eight days, seventy-seven drivers, 10,427 kilometres and one World Cup later, we have left Brazil. With a flourish of activity and early mornings we started the week making swift progress towards the border with Peru, making sure to relish the last moments.
Our final couple of days coincided with our bodies experiencing levels of perspiration previously unknown on this adventure.
Whilst shuffling along, blinking the sweat out of our eyes, we reflected that walking a cumulative total of around 10 kilometres in 62% humidity with our backpacks on was always going to be detrimental for our attire, and indeed our general demeanour.
It was in this state that we accidentally managed to smuggle ourselves out of Brazil and into Peru. In our defence, officer, all these border crossings get quite confusing. Anyway, after dropping our possessions off in a Peruvian hotel, we popped back into Brazil, successfully exited, and that was that.
‘Perú’ means ‘turkey’ in Portuguese, but that’s irrelevant now as we’re back in the Spanish-speaking world. Our brains are currently a-mush with what we refer to as ‘Portuñolish’. Don’t ask us anything.
The first hitching day in a new country throws up lots of questions. Does hitchhiking exist here? What is the correct gesture? Do people have private cars here, or are we going to have to fight off taxis galore? Are we in for a majority of long and slow truck rides?
Though we are now 650km into Peru, in the beautiful city of Cuzco, we cannot yet answer any of these questions. We chanced upon a Brazilian couple at Peruvian immigration, themselves embarking upon a South American adventure, and they brought us all the way here.
Though at the beginning of the day we had been nervously marvelling at how hot it could be at 7am, by the end of the day the thermals were on and the winter coats were out. This is what happens when you ascend nearly 5,000 metres above sea-level along winding, mountainous roads. This probably isn’t good for our bodies, but what can you do?
Cuzco is a charming city, possibly our favourite of the trip so far. It is characterised by beautiful buildings and lots of space, as well as plenty of interesting foodstuffs to try. (Yes, we have eaten guinea pig.) Having said that, we have also been struck by the number of beggars – generally in their later years and clearly in a desperate state. We sometimes give money or buy the little trinkets they’re selling, but in the end we’d need sacks of money to respond to them all, and besides, it’s such a short-term response. It is so sad.
Now then, who of you is it that keeps sending the clouds any time we go and visit a glowingly-recommended or world famous site, hmm? Seriously, enough now. Yesterday we took a day trip to the ancient Inca city of Machu Picchu, a three-hour bus ride from Cuzco, and the clouds threatened all day before finally unleashing a downpour at about 3pm. This is the DRY SEASON. Still, nothing was going to spoil what is a truly spectacular site.
Now we are resting up before getting going on hitching in Peru: who knows what lies ahead? And what better way to keep the energy levels up than by sampling one of the local delicacies.
Total number of lifts: 152
Week Eighteen distance travelled: 1,547 km
Total distance travelled: 21,091 km