A Rocky Road
Day 196 – February 3, 2012
As promised, here’s that story for another day.
When our weekend fun was over, we all climbed back into our mode of transport and headed back north to Lima. For the most part, the Pan American Highway from Lima to Paracas is a four- to six-lane highway. However, for the first leg of our trip back home, we were on the portion of the road that is only a two-lane highway.
I never quite caught the name of the town that we were about to enter (if memory serves, it looked like it was spelled “Auncayo”, but I’ll never know for sure), but traffic in our lane came to a grinding halt. On the southbound lane, there were no cars at all.
Five minutes go by. Ten minutes go by and we haven’t moved.
Nine minutes and thirty seconds ago is usually in Peru when the horns start going off, but the road was silent as the cars simply waited patiently for something to happen.
From the other lane, coming towards us, we begin to see the cause of the hold-up. Marching towards us in crisp precision was a phalanx of police officers. No ordinary officers these as they were clad in riot gear complete with helmets and shields. They were surrounding about forty protesters and they were all making their way south.
As we see them, the logjam of cars starts to break up and I begin to see why there was such a holdup. We were approaching a narrow bridge and the police had stopped all the traffic to allow the protesters to cross the bridge safely without having to worry about the traffic.
I never was completely sure if the protective circle around the sign-waving crowd was to protect them or contain them.
However, I have my guesses.
As we crossed the bridge and entered the town, traffic still moved at a crawl. The road was littered with chunks of broken concrete and scores of rocks of all sizes. Folk in this dusty town stood on the side of the road watching the slow motorcade of northbound vehicles. I don’t know how you say “dour” in Spanish, but the adjective fit the line of onlookers. There were no tires on fire, but that was a sight I was expecting to see.
The jester in me so wanted to turn to my kids in the back and say in my best airline pilot voice, “Look children! If you look off to your right, you will see civil unrest.”
There’s a time and place for humor and this wasn’t one of them.
We made our way through the small not-so-sleepy hamlet without incident and the rest of the three-hour trip proceeded boringly.
Final Note Peru Travel Tip: On long car rides in Peru, it is useless to play the States License Plate Game to distract your children. While Peru does have regions, the license plates of this country only say “Peru” or “PE”…unless you can find a really old car.
Just another helpful tip from your Uncle Xavier.