Pain and Pleasure in Peru (Page IV)

The hunt is over. The experiment in Peru is done. Definitely a lot of “firsts.” Definitely felt the pleasure and the pain of Peru.

Another day off. Good. I’m beat from the exertion of yesterday’s bull hunt. I’m happy to wander with Louise around the Colco Canyon, which is supposed to be deeper than the Grand Canyon. I see condors soar high above us. The roads are rough and pot-holed, no pavement. The houses are adobe bricks and stone. The villagers wear traditional garb: embroidered vests, embroidered jackets and embroidered hats.

I have to admit Peru is growing on me, and I know Louise is enjoying herself. The people are wonderful, colorful, always smiling. It’s a beautiful country with an amazing diversity of terrain, flora and fauna. We’ve seen coastal areas and beaches, been in jungles and deserts and climbed the second-highest mountain range in the world, the Andes. Looking forward to tomorrow, when we leave for the famous Inca city of Cuzco.

June 13, 2008
6 a.m.—We load into the trucks for the drive to Cuzco. The road is more like a trail, a switched-back, hairpin track lined with tiny crosses where previous travelers have died in horrifying falls to the valley floor a thousand feet below us.
A moonscape up here. No plants. Just rocks jumbled together into the distance where great peaks rise up to pierce the clouds. Chinchilla! I think it is, anyway. Looks like what I imagine a chinchilla looks like. Lots of the long-tailed, rabbit-looking animals in the bluffs along the side of the road. So there is life on the moon.

It was a long drive to Cuzco. The city is ancient, located in a big basin covered in adobe houses. Narrow cobblestone streets, half-choked with vendors selling every kind of product imaginable. Tomorrow, Louise and I will travel to the sacred Inca citadel that escaped discovery for nearly six centuries, Macchu Picchu.

June 14, 2008

7 a.m.—Macchu Picchu is spectacular. Louise and I stand in awe before this wonder of Inca engineering. How did they do it? How, without the use of modern equipment, did they build the edifice on the top of a spire mountain? According to historic record, Macchu Picchu was discovered by Harvard professor Hyram Bingham in 1905 and is considered by new-agers, along with Tibet and the Egyptian pyramids, to be one of the three centers of power in the world. It’s quite obvious the word has spread through their sandal-clad ranks, because everywhere we look we see hippies with beards wearing Peruvian knitted hats and baggy pants. Most of them talk to the stone walls … the really strange ones listen to the walls. Wondrous day, but would somebody please tell them the ’60s ended 40 years ago?

June 15, 2008
Whitetail country? Are they kidding? This is steep, steep country even a mountain goat wouldn’t venture into, and apparently the road gets worse ahead. Thank goodness Louise elected to stay in Cuzco while Todd and I go whitetail hunting. These are supposed to be the smallest of all whitetail subspecies, but so few have ever been hunted by nonresidents very little is known about them.

They call this area “Peru Profundo.” It means Profound Peru. They call it that because it’s located in the wildest, most remote lands of this country where even the government doesn’t venture because it’s too far from anywhere. I can look straight down at least 2,000 feet out my window. Holy smokes it’s steep.

They stop the truck so Todd and I can film a shot of a truck a mile below us; it looks like a speck. Todd sits to stabilize the camera. NO! He slips on the edge. I grab for his shirt, but can’t catch him. Oh, no. He goes over backward … tumbling down the face … smacking into the rocks below. I watch in slow-motion, staring helplessly as he falls forever.

Beside his unmoving body, I see blood coming from his ears, his nose, his mouth … from where his face used to be. “Todd? Todd, can you hear me?” I ask. A shudder, shallow gasps for air—he’s alive! “Get the truck here now!” We make it to the village we passed long ago. “Where’s the doctor?” Our first bit of luck—an itinerant doctor and two nurses are in the village for their monthly visit. “Help us! Now. Please do something.”

Todd is awake, and walking, if zombies can walk. He’s in shock, but he’s alive. I’m worried about a concussion, or worse. What if he’s bleeding inside his skull? The doctor puts him down on the bed, then swabs and stitches. I stop counting at 40. Todd’s face is black in places, his ear is sewn up, too. He looks awful. We have to get him to Cuzco. Poor guy, there wasn’t enough local anesthetic, so they had to do the last 10 stitches without freezing. Tough kid. It’s a race to the hospital in Cuzco. A team of doctors is waiting—neurosurgeon, plastic surgeon, trauma specialist—they’re all ready. Todd’s in good hands. They tell me he’ll be fine, just needs a few hours with the plastic surgeon and observation by the brain docs. With luck, he’ll be good as new in a month or so.

The hunt is over. The experiment in Peru is done. Definitely a lot of “firsts.” Definitely felt the pleasure and the pain of Peru.

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1 Response to Pain and Pleasure in Peru (Page IV)

Ben Bolet wrote:
July 18, 2011

I've been living in Peru 3 years and I hunt out in the Junin, off of Satipo en La Merced. I've had my fair share of adventures but this is by far the craziest I've ever read. About that Eco-tourism issue, you're guide is very biased and the people of Puerto Maldonado had much less before they arrived. It's their mayors, governors and politicians that cheat them, not the eco-tourists. In fact, there is a regional Canon tax of 30% applied to the 8 eco-tels and all other tourism related business's. 50% of this tax goes directly back to the city while the government in Lima keeps the other 50%. The social fabric of Peru and Peruvians is very complex, and blame the problems of unsustainability on foreigners because they see growth and are jealous that the common Peruvian does not grow. As a foreigner from the States married to a Peruvian, there's a lot here that wasn't said nor could be understood by visitors that come here for short expeditions. Anyways, I'm so very glad that your friend came out surviving such a nasty spill and the fact that there were doctors available to stitch him up. That area you were in is no-mans land