I have decided, in general, that I prefer walking. It’s an activity that is good exercise, at my own pace, and a personal safety choice.
Today we journeyed. My cousin Lauren once let me onto a secret, a motto that I have adopted as my personal mantra:
The journey is the reward.
So, today we journeyed. After our entertainment and experience and survival of our trek, and finally arriving at our Arequipa hostel, I felt rewarded. Yes, I will walk another day on this here planet, in this here city of Arequipa. Exhale.
This morning initiated Day One of Flex Week. What is Flex Week: Student-designed travel. Students have a set budget for the week, they are in charge of accommodations, food, activities, and decision-making. Trip leaders are essentially shadows, responsible for student safety.
In Arica, the group led us to the international collectivo gathering parking lot. A collectivo is a taxi that doesn’t really look like a taxi, rather it looks like a normal car. We rode in 3 collectivos across the border…more like our drivers got us in and out, up and across. We made it through the border checks with no problems whatsoever. Our driver (Jalen, Jonah, Josie, and I) seemed a very stern man…but when he cranked Mana after we crossed into Peru and started rocking out to the wild guitar solos, I was stoked. Although, he did make a few passes on the two lane road that were closer calls than I would have liked.
Arrived in Tacna, Peru. Quinn and Jonah arranged our next leg of travel: a 6 hour bus from Tacna to Arequipa which we boarded immediately. I guess honking is the “in” thing to do, because our bus driver was honking all the time and we weren’t even passing anybody…maybe he was honking to the beat of music that he was listening to?
On the bus ride, Ingmar, my seat buddy, became amigos with little Guido. They played Final Fantasy on Ingmar’s hand held game console, then played dress up in Ingmar’s hat, sunglasses, and watch, and then Guido took pictures, with the flash, of all the sleeping people on the back of the bus.
About a month and a half ago, I was with Blake, trekking through the sweaty, sticky jungles of Northern Guatemala….reading the more than entertaining novel, Catch-22. Wyatt just so happens to be reading Catch-22 on this UA trip. One night in the jungle, when I was sleeping in my hammock, I must have kicked the book…and accidentally kicked/ripped off the cover and the first few pages of the book. By the time I brought the book back to my Dad, it looked as if it had survived the war in which its characters were fighting. Wyatt seems to be having a similar experience with his same blue covered, old school edition.
Arrived in Arequipa. So close to our final destination for the day, our hostel. After debating about walking the 4 miles to our hostel, the group decided to take taxis across town. So we did, piled/stuffed/shoved ourselves into three taxis.
Wyatt, Lani, and I somehow managed to seat our three selves, along with our three bags in a two-person backseat (this vehicle lacked the crucial space of a trunk), while Jalen rode shotgun. Our taxi driver was legitimately crazy, but don’t worry Mom, Dad, or student parents…we lived to tell the tale.
The three taxis started out driving together, but then our driver got excited and decided to pave his/our own way to our hostel. This homie really had no consideration for traffic, oncoming cars, lines, lanes, or brakes (but neither did any of the other drivers on the road). The always solution: honking…even if it’s just for the hell of it. My resolution of comfort and what was calming my fear for the “just in case we do get in an accident” scenario: I can’t move anyway. My backpack is stuffed between me, the seat in front of me, Lani, and the car door. This is better padding than any seat belt could ever offer — I really can’t move, even if I wanted to. With the other taxis nowhere in sight, our driver takes a right, and parks. Normally, no big deal. But, he parks us on a two-lane street with no room for car parking. The catch: we are facing the wrong way on a one way street and there is hella oncoming traffic coming towards us. No big deal, right? Especially when the driver gets out of the car and walks around the corner and is gone for five minutes. How quickly can I count my blessings?!
…He came back, gave us a history lesson, and dropped us at the correct hostel ten minutes later.
I’ll spend the next two weeks…giving myself and the group a walking tour of Arequipa. Sounds good.