Sucharit mumbling "It´s 5:50 now" was my alarm clock. I then proceeded to sit in bed for ten minutes before it hit me. We rushed to the bus stop and got there at 6:20. Ten minutes early. Fifteen minutes later, the Los Chankas bus departed for Andahuaylas. The seat was fairly comfortable and had functioning seat belts. For the first thirty minutes of the drive, a gentleman who identified himself as an ex-military man talked about political strife, how no one was being held responsible for crime and the current Peruvian president was corrupt. He then handed each passenger a stash of candies. Caramels, he called him. From what I could pick up, paying for them was not obligatory, but he was asking for one sol. I didn´t quite understand why he was selling candies. Then he rolled up his left shirt sleeve to reveal an arm stitched from battle wounds. He didn´t stop there. The man proceeded to unbutton his shirt and reveal another gash of stitches on his stomach. I assumed he was raising money for the military so I gave him one sol. By the end of his oration, another man had started his own speech from the back of the bus. I chose not to pay attention and dozed off.
Travelling through the Andes in a bus is quite an experience. Usually, it feels like you are going to fall off the mountain. Today, it felt like the mountain was going to fall on the bus. Being so close to the majestic mountains seemed unreal. For someone who lives in a fairly flat city, the picture-postcard scenery that greeted me at every turn was a feast to the eyes.
Ten hours later, the bus dropped us off at Andahuaylas, where we deposited our luggage in an office. "It will get into the bus for Cuzco," said the man who was sitting in the dark room. As we were looking to eat at a nearby place, an elderly couple greeted us. The woman was holding a beautiful baby girl. Her skin was the color of well-blended coffee, her cheeks tinged with rosy freckles, and her dark almond-shaped eyes won me over. The couple invited us into their shack of a restaurant which had no name. This was my first real meal after yesterday´s food poisoning fiasco, and it consisted of the most delicious, hearty soup I have had in Peru. It was so good, I ordered seconds. An hour later, we boarded the bus to Cuzco, listening to the Beatles, Hariprasad Chaurasia, and Radiohead while admiring the stars above the darkening trees. I must have dozed off, because I woke up to the bright lights of the bus being turned on. A policeman in full gear - bulletproof vest, boots, and all - was asking each passenger for their documents. I looked at my watch. It was 11:30 pm. The man took our passports as well. I was a bit apprehensive. What if we don´t get them back? Twenty minutes later, we did get our documents back and the bus was on its merry way. I managed to sleep whenever the obnoxious child behind me wasn´t fake-crying or kicking the back of my seat.