Tuesday, March 22, 2016

A trip to Quillabamba is said to be one of the most beautiful drives in South America

In case you are feeling sorry for us living in a kind of third world country, I thought I would take some pictures of what is less than 50 feet from our apartment building.  It is a new high-end Mall (2-years old).  They have a Dunkin donuts (great find for me, but I have only been there once), Chili's, KFC, Burger King, Popeye's Chicken, Papa John's Pizza, Starbucks and much more.  It has a big movie 6-plex.  There are a lot of the name brand stores and they are expensive, I don't know how people here afford it - maybe it is all the rich tourist that keep them in business.  The anchor stores are a large grocery store and home-improvement store (both are very busy).  The interesting thing to watch at the Mall is the people trying to get on the escalators. It is hard to believe that grown up people have never seen an escalator before, let alone figured out how to get on one.  Some just give up and wander around on the 1st floor wondering what is on that 2nd floor they can't get to.

On Friday March 18th we headed north to a place called Quillabamba.  We were told the 6 hour ride is one of the most beautiful roads in South America. They were right, it was amazing.  At first we saw all this beautiful farm land where all the delicious produce we have been eating comes from.  I took all the pictures of the scenery out of the bus window.  It would have been nice to be able to stop and get better pictures but maybe this will give you and idea of what this drive is like.

The mountains above these small towns have snow on top. It is the end of summer here and there is still snow so you know we are at a very high altitude.

 The bus made a rest stop and they filled up the baggage compartment with goods of all kinds to be dropped off at our destination.  One of the most common surgeries in Peru are hernia operations and the doctors are good at it.  Watching these two men lift this load reminded me of all those operations.  I have watched these small people lift and carry incredible loads.
 While we wait for the goods to be loaded, men and women from the town jump on the bus to sell food.  Usually it is produce of some kind.  The favorite snack is called Choclo with cheese.  It is hot corn on the cob with a piece of cheese.  The corn is not a sweet corn and it has huge kernels that you can take off and eat one at a time.

This little girl patiently waits for her mom and dad to load their goods on the bus.  Her dad helped lift the big load above and the woman below is her mother. putting her own bag on.  When the mom finished she jumped in the back of the motorcycle/truck with the little girl and got settled in to ride.  She had a huge smile on her face.  I think they must have had a good harvest and they were happy to be sending it out to sell. 

Check out the cement gutter on the side of the road, there is no shoulder room.

Most people fall asleep as soon as the bus heads out, but this little lady had her nose pressed against the window the whole 6 hours.  I don't blame her the view is so beautiful.

The mountains have lots of beautiful waterfalls.

  We are actually on a road above looking down at the road we have been on (and are still on) as we climb higher and higher up the mountain. All these roads you see are really only one road.

Lyle said this area at the top of the mountain reminded him of the tops of the Alps. Note that there are no trees, we are way above the timber line.  Notice the thatched roofs on the stone buildings.
 On the other side of the mountain it was jungle vegetation and fog the whole way down.  Quillabamba is located in the high jungle.  We felt like we had traveled in a couple hours from the tundra where the main floor is lichens, moss and some grass to the jungle where one tree can have four or more species growing on it.

One of the beautiful parks in Quillabamba.  There are beautiful flowers, trees and bushes everywhere in this town.  This park was so clean and the fountain is going all the time.  At night the fountain is lighted with different colored lights.  Note the flowering red blossoms in the tops of the trees. The whole park was tiled.

We had a great turn-out of youth all weekend.  Here are some pictures of them. They were so fun to work with.  They are really good on the computers and once they have their accounts opened and they are taught a couple of things, they just take off with familysearch.  This girl did four generations and all the children of every couple.  She was incredibly fast and smart.  She is a convert of only 3 months. Below are some of the other fast and smart teenagers.  They came in on Saturday again to learn indexing. As we teach the youth we try to include indexing. Familysearch needs people who can index in Spanish and this is also a way to get more records on line for the people we are working with.  A couple of the girls stayed by us all three days we were there. I loved having them with us.

This little boy insisted on getting in the picture with his mom and sister.

 We had a great time with the missionaries and the rest of the people in this town.  We were able to  open accounts for everyone that came, but familysearch was overloaded or something so we couldn't get everyone in to build their trees.  This happens a lot.  We get all set up with everything working, then just as we get a lot of people ready to put in information on familysearch, the site goes down.  It is really unpredictable when or if it will happen, but when it does it is so sad.  It is so much work to get us and everyone else together and the internet and the electronics to work well and then familysearch stops working.  Luckily it did work most of the time we were there.

We were able to meet President Harbertson and his wife on Sunday.  He told us of what wonderful missionaries he has, but he is especially amazed at the Sister missionaries.  He said they never complain and they work so hard.  For instance, he asked one sister when she was ready to go home what was the percentage of cold showers she took while on her mission.  She said 95% were cold and in about 75% of her hot water showers she got a little shock.  Hot water in most places here is made by an electric coil wrapped around a hot water pipe. She hadn't complained once, she was a great missionary and loved it. He said she is typical of all the sister missionaries he has had in this mission. We are so grateful for all the missionaries here, they really work hard to make our work easier.

We returned to Cuzco on Monday and I was able to get a few more pictures of  the drive.  It wasn't as cloudy.
A banana tree.
The road on the jungle side of the mountain, again we are looking down on the road we are still on. A lot of tourist packages include a bicycle ride down this road. Wouldn't that be fun.

This is one tired mom and her four adorable girls that sat next to us.

Sitting in front of these sleeping girls, there is a 80+-year-old man chewing coke leaves with charcoal.  They say it really gets them high.


The return bus rest stop.  All the men just ran out to the edge of this river bank to relieve themselves.  

Check out all the Jesus stickers on our drivers dashboard.  This may increase our safe arrival.  Actually the bus drivers are really good, safe drivers.  I can't say the same about some of the taxis I have been in.

We couldn't understand what was taking so long during our one stop on the return trip.  Apparently the bus driver had lunch waiting for him at this little cafe and the whole bus full of people had to wait for him to finish.  The people here just take everything in stride, no one complains. The dinning area where the driver ate looked really clean but when Lyle looked into the kitchen it was dirt floors and chickens running everywhere.
There is the famous chicken soup in a bag that this little boy is holding in his hand. The story at the end of this blog tells the rest of the story about this soup and where it ended up.

 This is where our seats were on the way back.  It was a great place for Lyle with plenty of leg room and a big window he could open whenever he wanted to.  The problem is that my seat next to him is right in front of the door. So I have added a funny story about that at the end of this blog.
 Lyle got out to explore while I kept an eye on our backpacks with all of our computer stuff in it.  He said all the women went in this bathroom one at a time and then came out and grabbed a bucket of water from the 50 gallon drums and threw it into the bathroom.  I am not sure what that was all about and I really didn't want to know.
Some of the mountains look like they have glaciers with 20 foot blue ice.

This is our little friend that was asleep in the seats next to us with her 3 sisters.  I gave them granola bars during our stop and she came and stood next to us during the last hour of the trip, she was so sweet.  If you look closely all of her teeth are decayed on both sides of the teeth.  There are a lot of toothless people here, mostly older people.
Okay, so here is the story, between the very long rest stop and our arrival to Cuzco the bus stops and lets some people out and some people in for shorter rides, but you have to be fast to get on and off.  So in comes a whole bunch of people and the bus of course doesn't wait for passengers to get situated so there is a little crowd in front of me.  One is a young mother with her little boy  with a huge piece of  half-eaten birthday cake teetering on a paper plate. She gets bumped from the back and the cake goes flying into the air onto the lap of one of the little girls sitting across the aisle from me and then to the floor.  The mom doesn't miss a step and has that piece of cake back on the plate in no time (I have no idea where it went from there).  In the meantime there is frosting all over the little girl's lap and on the floor where everyone is walking to get to the back of the bus.  At the same time, there is a women standing over me coughing on the top of my head and another woman standing over by Lyle waving her hand in front of her nose, letting Lyle know that the bus stinks. She probably thought Lyle couldn't speak Spanish and thought that was the best way to communicate how bad the bus smelled.  Finally the people found some seats while the bus was moving so there was more jostling and swaying going on in the aisles, but things were settling down in front where we were setting.  The little girl with the frosting on her pant leg just sat there quietly looking at the frosting.  I remembered a small roll of emergency toilet paper that I pulled out of my pocket and handed it to her.  She wiped off the frosting and threw the toilet paper out the window. There was still a lot of frosting on the floor in the aisle.  I saw hats and bags land on it and lots of people walking in it and tracking it all over.
Well, another stop and the people in the back that wanted off rushed to the front including a little boy and his father.  The man in front of the little boy stopped while waiting for the bus to stop and the door to open.  That took too much time because suddenly the little boy started throwing up on top of that frosting that was still on the floor beside me and on the back of that man's pants.  The dad grabbed a plastic bag and held it over the boy's mouth to catch the rest.  The man in front of the boy saw the throw up that landed on the back of his pants and started shaking it off.  I was inches away hoping it wouldn't land on me.  Well, they finally got off the bus and the boy felt so much better now that he went skipping off with his dad. Lyle and I just looked at each other and started to laugh.  I tried not to think about that frosting and throw-up laying in the aisle beside me for the rest of the trip.
When we got out of the bus, Lyle was telling me about how comfortable and nice that ride was. Not only that but he said he was totally entertained by all the action at the front of the bus. I think next time I will give him the aisle seat.


  1. Oh my. What an eventful bus ride! Keep the stories coming. The kids love them!