Just a glimpse of what the ride was like.
Villa Carmen is located in the tiny town of Pilcopata, 8-10 hours from Cusco (though this trip take much longer if there are mudslides, which are apparently not that uncommon). There are three ways to get there from Cusco: take a bus that only leaves on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 5:00 am; take a shared van; or hitch a ride on a truck. Since we were heading to Villa Carmen on a Sunday, that ruled out the bus, and we weren't about to hitch-hike, so our safest bet was to take a shared van. This may sound simple enough, but there is limited space and to ensure there would be room for both of us the administrative assistant would reserve seats with us and help make the arrangements to get there. We were informed to bring snacks, as we would be making very few stops along the way--thankfully we had our trusty Skippy crunchy peanut butter my sister had brought to us from home. We were also told that the ride would be about 30 minutes to 1 hour in the mountains, and the rest of the ride would be relatively flat. Sounded good to us!
By 11:00 am on Sunday morning we were squeezed into a 10-passenger van with 11 other passengers, Sam and I being the only gringos.
|It's about a 12,000 foot drop over that edge.|
|This dog chased us for 10 minutes.|
However, no sooner than we had finally reached the bottom of the mountain range and stopped for a quick bathroom break we started to climb up another mountain range.
|The truck we almost hit|
The trip back was just as terrifying, but bumpier and far dustier, plus at one point another van came speeding around a bend, forcing our driving to slam on the brakes, causing the other van fishtail past us and nearly skidded over the side. Sam and I celebrated surviving the trip with pizza in Cusco last night and are very happy to be done (hopefully) with crazy road trips on unpaved roads. However, our week at Villa Carmen was great, so I think it made up for the trip (although Sam, I am sure, would beg to differ). More on our volunteer experience in the next blog post!