Escape From Huaraz

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Based on actual events.

Chapter 1: The Man Comes To Town. Who Is That Man? That Man Is Death.

The night was dark, like diving the Louisiana shoreline on a moonless night. The heavy rain lashed down like an angry Dominatrix prostitute working a fat, sweaty politician.

Unlike them, we didn’t have the luxury of a cocaine bump.

There was no other way around this: We were going to have to go over the top sober as a nun’s baby.

I stroked my muscular, chiseled jaw and wiped the sweat off my handsome, bronzed brow before opening the door to the bullet-riddled junkheap that we had found outside a rat-infested pizza joint in one of Huaraz’s ugly streets. Our ride wasn’t pretty, but it was still moving: unlike the first-class luxury bus that we should have been taking.

Of course, we should have known. It’s the same the world over: the first sign of trouble, and the upper class bolt their doors.

But we weren’t the well-heeled, paddling in their champagne swimming pools. We had work to do: there were still ugly websites on the internet and I wasn’t going to quit until they were all dead.

Not even Peruvian barricades would stop me.

Chapter 2: The Exposition Chapter

It had started innocuously enough. But then it always does. We should have sensed trouble when we heard the words “government”, “mine”, “locals”, “drinking water” and “foreign investment”. Sometimes, though, the writing on the wall is too obscure to be seen; covered by too many scribbled graffiti tags and comic, yet politically controversial, stencil paintings.

The locals were suffering: they were going to lose their drinking water. I understood their pain; I, too, was suffering. Every day that went by meant more Netizens were struggling to leave pointless, link-generating comments on comment forms that barely functioned; their blighted eyes blinded by the tyrannical hideousness of badly designed sites.

We were the same, the villagers and I: their only clean water supply was under threat; and there were people in Starbucks all over the world clicking links that went to dreaded 404 pages.

So as the locals raised their barricades, I knew we had to make a run for it — I was sure that if they knew, they would understand why we couldn’t stand with them this time.

We were a desperate group of seven: Two Peruvians, one American and four English. If we didn’t make it out by midnight, we’d be trapped here for weeks. I looked at my watch: 8 O’clock.

“It’s 8pm.” I said.

Chapter 3: The Dangerous Drive of Death and Danger

So we left, our motley crew bouncing up the unsealed road through the increasingly torrential rain: the politician was getting excited now.

Up, we headed. Up. And up. Up into the clouds. Always up.

A grim silence fell over the truck as we pushed on through the mountains. Our route was long and dangerous, taking us through a single track 5,000 metre pass. It was a known flashpoint for trouble, but we couldn’t risk the main roads.

Our driver was a local man: Rico. He had a shock of black hair that wouldn’t stay put and he talked almost as fast as he drove, but he was solid behind the wheel and had a sense of humour that lightened our metaphysical load.

Turning on some of that awful Reggaeton (we had asked for Mötley Crüe, but he had none), he leaned forward and stared at the coming fog. We were turning onto some of the tightest cliffside roads we had ever seen and the visibility was dropping down to zero. But we couldn’t afford to waste any time: every second we spent in this god-awful dump of a town was a second longer that the barricades would be going up.

We had to make it to Lima.

Suddenly the truck skidded to the left, throwing us and our luggage to the right. As my face smashed against the window, I saw our back wheel kiss the edge of the road and knock pebbles into the black void below.

“Sorry everyone,” Rico said, flashing a toothy smile. “There was an injured puppy on the road!”

It’s hard to stay mad at someone who would throw away 8 human lives to save a mortally wounded dog.

I broke out the Lays.

Chapter 4: Trouble Arrives. More Trouble Than There’s Already Been, I Mean

The next two hours passed painlessly enough. The Americans had their iPhones out, videoing the adventure for prosperity.

“This’ll make a great blog post!” Said one of them.

I turned to start out into the darkness and thought: “Well I hope he has signal, cause it’s the only way the world will see it.”

I decided to keep that witty observation to myself. No need to unduly worry everyone. I wrote it down, though. For later.

Then I was called into action.

We had been warned of this section before we took off. They were doing some mammoth road works along the thinnest part of the mountain trail. I couldn’t imagine what work could need doing to such an inhospitable road: were more rocks needed to beach low-slung cars? But it was true. The road was closed during the day as they worked, but then opened at night for those stupid enough to risk the voyage.

This was it, I thought. If we’re going to get into trouble, this is where it will happen. I had to put the truck on full alert.

“Everyone. Full alert.” I said from the back.

They all turned to look out their windows.

The next hour was one of the longest any of us had ever experienced. Juddering stones shook the car violently as we carefully rounded tight corners. One wrong move and we’d be careering into icy, misty death. That was in addition to the ever-present risk of being pillaged by pitchfork wielding peasants.

The tension was palpable, like a thick stew. It was hard to breathe, like breathing thick stew. We passed a small cooking hut, the air smelled like thick stew.

We slid and careered our way down the other side of the mountain. Finally, near the bottom, we saw a light. A gasp of panic went up through the car. Did this yellow pinprick indicate the end of our tunnel of danger and darkness or was it the flaming torch of the start of our troubles?

It was the end of our troubles. We had arrived at the highway.

We hit the gas and powered through the night, chasing the morning sun as it rose like watching a accelerated video of a giant, blinding yellow flower with no petals growing out of the horizon without a stem.

We arrived in Lima, exhausted but exuberant.

We had made it.

We had survived our Escape from Huaraz.

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6 Comments

  1. That was one great hell of an experience! The journey might have been exhausting but it surely is something blog-worthy to write about! Plus, it was pure adventure! Poor puppy! Was he okay? Huaraz must be a very adventurous place! I will definitely put it in my list.

    Reply

  2. My God man, I was laughing my friggin ass off throughout this entire story. I smell something, could it be, thick stew? Really, this was phenomenal! I would gladly pay the $12 to see this movie.

    Reply

  3. Laughing, crying…oh my gosh that was at once hilarious and breathtaking! Seriously though, I think I’m in the mood for a hearty pot of thick stew! Loved this post Simon & Erin! Hope you enjoyed the interview, still getting emails and sending new readers your way!

    Reply

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