On the Road to the city of Eternal Summer – Quillabamba

July 2, 2006

How many corners do I have to turn? How many times do I have to learn? All the love I have is in my mind, Well, I´m a lucky wo-man with fire in my hand I hope you understand… Happiness, coming and going… (thanks to The Verve for the on-the-road sounds and Laura the volunteer who lent me her MP3 player for the 6-7 hour journey)

It´s 9.45am and it’s already hot. The winter months are drier here so this journey to the hopping-off point for what is billed as Peru’s little explored southern jungle, is possible as the roads are now passable. So, I’m on the 9.30am bus, which left Cusco at 8am, and goes via Urubamba – the little pueblo where I am living. I’m leaving Urubamba, (population 8,000 approx, altitude 2,871m), which sits in a saucer-like valley and is surrounded by spectacular mountains, including the glacial peak of Chincon, for a couple of days away to the tropical entrance to the southern jungle. Why here? Well, who could resist visiting a place known as the city of eternal summer due to its hot and humid tropical climate? Certainly not me. I have been known, on previous trips, to travel to a place simply because the name intrigued me. In Mexico, Baja California – where Andy and I stayed with Johnette – it was the puebloita (little town) of Los Ojos Negros, or Black Eyes, which captured our imagination. Here, it is the promise of warm, or rather, hot, sweaty nights. I’m aboard the bus and it’s a local one with fairly comfortable, slightly reclining seats. I find number 20 and am happy that it’s a window seat. It seems that I am the only Gringa, apart from two other foreigners (Gringos), who are both sunblistered, both dark and one is bearded. I guess that they are Israeli as I overhear a young Peruvian man talking to them in Engish and surmise that they are on the way to a drop off point for Macchu Picchu. Later, when we have to get off the bus – only an hour and a half into the journey because essential road works prevent us from going any further until 11.45am – I find out that, as well as having another fair-haired and light-skinned Israeli guy with them, they are heading for Santa Teresa to start a one-day bike ride on the Inca trail followed by a two-day trek. They seem to be well-prepared and, as well as bikes on the roof of the bus, they only have small rucksacks with them which is v sensible as you don’t want to be lugging the kitchen sink with you on the road to the Inca marvel of MP. The sky is slightly hazy and the mountains are muted tones of brown, green and yellow. The vegetation and shrubs are like a soft down covering the mountains sides and ridges giving it a velvety appearance. Suprisingly, there are Eucalyptus trees in abundance, apparently these non-native species have been introduced as they grow quickly. Their slender trunks and branches stretch like fingers from the dry earth and the Rio Urubamba courses its way alongside the bus and will accompany us the entire trip and beyond our destination. Houses here are one or two-storeys high and are made predominantly of adobe with tiled or tin roofs. Washing hangs from balconies and on washing lines in small courtyards, fields are demarked by stone and adobe walls as well as shrubs, cacti and trees. There are cows, donkeys, goats and numerous cacti and dogs to be seen along this section of the journey and it’s dry and dusty. We are lucky as the road, this far, is paved and relatively smooth – that is, until we reach the stomach-turning, hairpin bends of the Abra de Malaga pass which zigzags its way across the mountain range. I´m listening to Urban Hymns and Bittersweet Symphony is playing, then Lucky (Wo)Man, see above. The songs all seem to make sense and convey how I have been feeling… PAUSE HERE. I have to go and catch the bus back now, it’s 6.46pm and my return bus leaves at 7.30pm. Better not miss it as I have to be at the school at 9am sharp and won´t get back till 2am. Think of me making the return trip at night through the twists and turns which are accompanied by load horn tooting….  

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8 Responses to “On the Road to the city of Eternal Summer – Quillabamba”

  1. elsa said

    darling miri,

    just read your blog for the first time. reading it is like hearing you talk, just like reading robs diary… sounds like an eventful trip, big leaps both mentally and physically. reading about what´s happening and your thoughts gives me comfort and energy, feels like you´re closer than when you were in london.

    take good care of yourself.

  2. Andy said

    Dearest M,

    Great to speak to you the other day and I have just read your blog on the trip to the jungle, how was it? see any shrooms or fantastic birds?

    Reading your page about giving the autistic boy some clothes, brought tears to my eyes, oh how I miss those days in Palenque etc. etc., but what memories, Hampstead Heath is my jungle now, not quite the same, hey?? maybe I’ll see it all again some sunny day???

    As I already said, what I think you are doing is brilliant and essential, you should be so, so, proud proud proud, shout it at the top of your voice at the mountains, if and when you get those ‘funny’ moments.

    Lisa’s home phone number is 020 8678 9641, mob-0784 197 5237 these are her website anyhow, now she has moved they may have changed??

    Believe in you

    With love

    Keep safe, stay well

    Andy

  3. Sarah said

    London is pretty balmy, doubt it’s eternal though !

    Off to Greece for a week, so look forward to your tales on my return,

    big hug
    Sarah
    x

  4. Andy said

    Hey Girl,

    I haven’t heard from Juergan regarding your boxes, I don’t know where to take them otherwise I’d just drive round and drop them off. What to do? Hope all is well and you’re having fun.

    love 0

  5. Sholt said

    Miranda –

    It’s great to be able to hear from you as you travel! Take care of yourself and enjoy.

    Love from all of us in AL –

    Sholt

  6. Nigel said

    Dear Miranda!
    PERU?!?! Are you… why would you… you must be… don’t you know there are Paddingtons over there? Dangerous little Paddingtons lurking behind trees (and up ‘em, for that matter!) Just waiting for unwary travellers – they prefer girls, you know – to take back to their lair to be smeared with marmalade and made to wear a duffel coat whilst reciting Quechuan poetry! It’s true, I read it on the Net, so it must be…
    Damn, you give great read – keep it up!

    Love, Nigel! xxx

  7. Rod Anne said

    darling miri. lovely to read all you have written. there are so many things i want to ask you abou, and good to read the comments. grannpa is well and everyone here sends their love. let me know the time and i will meet you at Paddington on the 2nd. so looking foreward to seeing you. am starting to master this but not going to risk correcting spelling mistakes! had good day with Nigel and Hove still going through. love you loads mum X X x

  8. miranda said

    Hye you. I miss you too and am so looking forward to seeing you. Am now in the polar, or rather equatorial opposite of Urubamba as I am close to the beach and it is like a Peruvian version of spring break at the beach, with prices sky rocketing and the wealthy elite from Lima taking strolls down the beach and the PanAmerican highway which cuts through the town… Finished at the centre, lovely kids and teachers, esp one woman… I am back early Wed morning, 2 August, could you do me a huge favour and call Chris at Walker Smith 0207 624 4444, and book me a hair appt for the morning I am back, say around 10am or any time after? Was thinking we could head from Paddington to Matt´s where I can pick up some stuff for the next few days, need my mobile etc, have breakfast, and get my hair cut before heading back to the boat and starting work on Thurs 3, if you can, that would be great. I have Wed all day free,we can catch up and also I have somewhere to stay for two weeks from Sat 5th August which is great. I love you and think about you masses and Matt
    Love and hugs and kisses MXXXXX

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