Waiting in the bus station

We are sitting in la Agencia de León de Huánuco, a bus company that was supposed to take us to Pucallpa yesterday. However, upon arriving at the bus station in Lima (after spending an hour tracking down the business phone number, getting the schedule, and taking a probably overpriced S./84 taxi ride to la Victoria, a small and less attractive borough of Lima), the women behind the desk told us they were sold out.

Luckily, they also told us about a compteting company located across the street that could take us there. And so, for S./80 a person, we embarked upon our 20 hour jounrey through (or rather, up and down) the Andes and through the jungle… on the only road that runs to this area.

Now, we are waiting for Bernardo, our contact and jefe (leader) of a Shipibo community. He is supposed to be meeting us here so that we may travel up-river (south) together to his home where we will be staying for three weeks.

Sitting here is incredibly interesting. A big open room with bright orange chairs that alternate between being occupied and vacant to a schedule that has nothing to do with that of the buses (and we should know, we´ve been filling two of said chairs for three hours). There´s a tv inthe room, which accounts for some of the crowd. People from the street straggling in and out. Passerbys, who if they see something good, come and sit down for a while. Vendors come in from the street too, selling their cookies, their jello cupos (homemade), their jewelry, their juice bags, their toys and toilet paper (which we actually took advantage of -two mini rolls for S./1), their pens, a shoeshine, newspapers… the list goes will surely go on… now to include a baby crocodile head!

Most people keep to themselves (except of course the vendors who easily leave us alone with a shake of the head and a ´no gracias´). However, we have gotten the occassional chatty Cathy, or actually… a chatty Roberto, the shoeshine guy, ex-soldier who lectured us on friendship and the good grace of God (we saw him later, walking around with a pair of shoes around his neck)… a chatty Germán, jefe of another Shipibo village (24 hours upstream!), who invited us to visit and talked of Russian students who had just visited and tried ayahuasca (and what a great time they had!) … and a chatty Hugo, an intellectual from the amazon region who is interested in studying and documenting indigenous traditional medicines. He said that many people are forgetting their customs and using quicker pharmacy fixes that in the long run can never compare. He asked me is I knew of any organizations in the US that worked towards that type of thing and said that it is truly what the region needs. How interesting to hear his perspective!

All three of these people just approached us, asking us where we were from and if we were students (do they get a lot of US students here, I wonder?) and ended the conversations with handshakes, a ´buena suerte´ to the two of us and in the case of Germán, an email address if we ever want to visit (his community owns its own boat – travel up river for free), and from Hugo, an email exchange if I ever come across people or organizations working towards his same goal.

And all of this is only a description of the inside of the agencia. Also to be contemplated through the huge opening to the street outside are all the people and dogs walking by, the woman who swept the large sidewalk and then rolled over her wooden restaurant which is now bustling with business, and all the motorcycles and little motocars (a small motorcycle front with two wheels and a covered bench in back) which serves as the main form of transportation here, each one customized by the driver. Sitting in one place for going on four hours has never afforded me with so much stimulation (and just a day ago, with thought sitting in JFK for 8 hours was the best people watching we could have!)

2 Responses to “Waiting in the bus station”
  1. julie says:

    sounds like you guys are surviving and having an incredible adventure so far. I love reading about all the interesting people that you are encountering.Stay safe; have fun.Miss you both soo much!!Love, Julie

  2. i love to people watch…i’ll say buena suerte as well and will love living vicariously through your words write on jess

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