In today’s world we have this stigma (and a very justified one at that) towards hitchhiking. Your parents tell you ever since you are very young not to get in a car with strangers. This is something I have always followed. Unfortunately, sometimes circumstances arise where these rules need to be bent. Today’s post is about my first hitchhiking (well sort of) experience and in Peru of all places!
It was a beautiful, sunny day in southern Peru. I had spent the previous day at the unbelievable site of Machu Picchu and today was making my way back to Cusco. I took the first IncaRail train from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo in the morning enjoying the beautiful mountain scenery along the way and then taking in the ancient Inca ruins in Ollantaytambo was spectacular. I had originally planned on spending the night in the beautiful cobblestoned town of Ollaantaytambo but after a couple hours I had seen the sites and was already getting bored.
I caught a mini-van heading to the next town of Urubamba because there were some more ancient Inca sites just on the outside of that town that I wanted to see as well. Arriving at the bus stop in Urubamba I tried to find public transport or some means of getting to the site of Moray outside of town in the heart of the Sacred Valley. Unfortunately there was not a direct public transport method, most taxi’s wanted way too much and the organized tours for such a trip had already departed for the day. Walking to one of the bus company counters I spoke some pieced-together broken Spanish mixed with English and the uttering of “Moray” when to my surprise the company had a bus heading that way. For the price of a mere 5 Sol ($2 CAD) I had found my ride to Moray (well sort of). I got on the bus which was actually an old run-down school bus which then actually filled with students too. I felt like I was back in high school again! Check that off the list, riding a school bus in Peru to get around. When in Peru, do as the Peruvians do!
The overcrowded school bus drove for about 20 minutes when it stopped on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere and I was told to get off, the driver pointing and indicating that the road veering off to the right headed towards Moray meanwhile his bus was destined for the other direction. Getting off and a little confused about what to do next, I found myself approached by a taxi driver who was waiting at the stop for people looking to go to Moray. It ended up costing a bit more than expected (30 Sol or $12 CAD) for the round trip to Moray and back to this stop (the driver would wait at Moray for me to finish and bring me back to the stop). So in his taxi I got and off we went.
About 15 minutes later we arrived in Moray and I spent the next half hour or so wandering the site, wondering how the heck the ancient Inca people built such places (but more on that in another post). Getting back in to the taxi we headed back to the bus stop passing through the town of Maras along the way where, to my amusement, we were stopped for a few minutes because a herd of cows were crossing the road in the middle of town!
Arriving back at the stop I paid the driver and off he went. I saw a Peruvian family standing at the side of the road waiting for a bus as well. I asked them, muttering “Urubamba” to which they pointed to the stop across the road. The stop on their side of the road was heading to Cusco meanwhile the other side was to go back to Urubamba. Waiting on the other side of the road now and not knowing if/when a bus would be coming (it was late afternoon at this point and the sun was beginning to set) I decided to put my thumb out and to to hitch a ride back to town. Unfortunately no cars came but fortunately the next vehicle along the way was a premium tour-operated coach bus. I knew this bus, being a tour bus, would not regularily stop at this bus stop in the middle of nowhere so I flagged down the bus, waving to the driver. Fortunately he was a good guy (or I hope so) and he pulled the bus over and let me get a ride back to town for a mere 2 Sol (about $0.81).
Back in town about 20 minutes later, I was relieved that the venture out to Moray went pretty smoothly with only a few minor bumps along the way to figure out. It was a stressful couple hours but such are the experiences and travelling more as the locals do that I enjoy the most and really look for when visiting another country. For anyone ever planning to visit Peru, I felt very safe there, the people were always very nice and willing to help and I never had any problems whatsoever! If you want to visit Peru, let me know, I am more than willing to help you plan your own adventure too!