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Land of the clouds

Easter in Peru, time for a trip. 24 hour bus ride, ancient ruins of Keulap, one of the tallest waterfalls in the world and whole lot of domestic violence

It’s Easter and so it’s time for our first bigger trip in Peru.
We went to Chachapoyas in north of Peru, beyond the Andes. The bus ride was supposed to take 12 hours, but took 24 hours instead. The rainy season is not yet over in the mountains and the rain caused landslides and roadblock on an erosion-prone road to Chachapoyas. And so in the middle of the night the bus just stopped and we didn’t move for next 8-10 hours until the road was cleared.

Chachapoyas (meaning “people of the clouds”, as it is always cloudy here) is a pretty mountain town with all buildings stylishly painted white. It has great colonial feel. But the main draw was what lies outside of Chachapoyas: an ancient pre-Incan citadel of Kuelap, located on cliff-top at 3100 meters above the sea level, beautiful mountain-jungly valleys whose rivers flow to the Amazon and Gocte Falls, world’s 7th tallest waterfall.
The waterfall was astonishing with water falling down some 700m. When it reached the ground it wasn’t water anymore. On its long way down the water turns into cold vapor descending onto the ground as a mist-fall and all that water-turned-mist creates crazy wind gusts that together with the cold mist freeze you to bone if you dare to come close, even though it’s 30’C outside.

Luckily our ride back home was without further roadblocks (although the departure of the bus was confirmed only on last minute) and so it took mere 14 hours to get back to Trujillo just in time for Irene to start her shift after a refreshing night on the bus :-)

By the way I forgot to mention that Peruvian buses (tourist class buses) are pure luxury! I have never seen anything like that. The seats look like those in business class of good airline companies. Not to mention Latino stewardesses in mini-skirts :-)
Talking about the bus to Chachapoyas, here’s a deep insight into Peruvian psyche:
In the buses they play movies. That is normal. What is not normal is the selection of the movies. On the way to Chachapoyas Irene was lucky to fall asleep quickly, partially thanks to taking an anti-motion sickness pill. I was unlucky to stay awake (for a long time) and thus faced with the movie they played: Cicatrices (which means “scars” in Spanish). It was about domestic violence. That itself might be a meaningful topic, but the Peruvian director had a rather specific approach to this. For 90 minutes the audience in the bus was watching a husband brutally beating his wife. The scenes were of such a brutality (think fists in face, kicking of the stomach, poking of eyes) and in such full details that it would never be allowed to be broadcasted in Europe. We might easily face 999 deaths on TV, few nuclear explosions or zombies, but violence against women on TV, in this way of showing it, that is something we are not used to. And the bus was full of kids. Is this the kind of movie what you would select for a bus??? So all the kids were for 90 minutes watching a man beating his wife, which is very useful, because after this bus ride they surely understood perfectly well that there is nothing wrong with that if it is so “normal” (and it must be normal if they show it on bus, no?). And what was the moral of the story? Did the woman report to the police and the man was jailed (so that the audience would see what might be the consequences)? Did she abandon her sadistic husband? Of course not! After some doubts and temporary running away of the wife, the husband turned to the Bible, found Jesus and fixed his ways. His wife returned to him and they lived happily ever after, even joking about the old violence. Women of the world who are victims of domestic violence, don’t panic, just stick to your sadistic husbands, patiently wait till they turn to the Bible and everything will be just right! Cicatrices ended (to my relief) and another movie started. I couldn’t believe my fucking eyes! CICATRICES 2! This time it was about domestic violence against a mother and a sister. While Cicactrices (1) was a B-grade movie, Cicatrices 2 was at least D-grade movie. It seemed like somebody shoot it in his living room and casted his uncles and cousins. Cicatrices 2 was not as brutal as Cicatrices 1. It was actually rather funny in its amateurism (of course this entertaining aspect of the movie was not intended by the director). OK I survived Cicatrices 2 and was about to go to sleep when a new movie started playing. Yes, you guessed it! CICATRICES 3!!!!!! WHAT THE FUCK! ARE THEY FUCKING KIDDING ME???? Luckily I was not the only one in the bus who thought that 3 hours of men beating women is more than enough for a single bus ride and some people in the bus screamed “Noooo!”. I screamed “How many women must die during this bus ride???”. The sub-normal stewardess quickly reflected that if she wouldn’t change the fucking movie she herself would soon be subject to violence against women and to everyone’s relief she changed the movie to some stupid American comedy.
So much for Peruvian movie taste on buses.

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     MARCEL STRBAK | www.strbak.com | www.facebook.com/marcel.strbak