Friday October 8th was a holiday in Peru, so Kelly and I decided to escape the heat of Pucallpa and head out on an adventure. We traveled by bus to Huánuco, Peru. The trip is cheap, 35 soles(around US$12) and long, about 10 hours each way. We took the trip as average Peruvians would, tourist class bus. That means no air-conditioning and NO bathroom on the bus. As we made our way out of the city at 10:45AM Thursday, it was about 100 degrees. Once we hit kilometer 86 and the climb up into the Andes began, it started to cool a bit.
This was my first trip to the high jungle(selva alta). We made several stops along the way to pick up more passengers and went through about five police checkpoints. At each stop along the way, eager vendors boarded the bus selling everything from cold drink, fruit and complete meals.
We went from Pucallpa’s elevation of 500 feet above sea level to a high point of about 8,000 feet. Huánuco is about 5,900 feet above sea level. Having a period of adjustment meant no altitude sickness for me. Along the way we passed through several jungle cities: Campo Verde, Aguaytia, Tingo Maria to name a few. The route is not for the average traveler, as it is very treacherous. Accidents and fatalities are a nearly daily occurrence. How dangerous? My wife who is usually asleep before the bus/train/plane departs didn’t sleep a wink during the trip. The danger is not just the road itself, but also the ever present threat of opportunistic terrorists. Outside of Tingo Maria a member of the national police(PNP) boarded the bus to warn us of the dangers and stayed on the bus for about 30 kilometers. It felt unsettling, but reassuring at the same time to have an armed escort. The journey from Tingo to Huánuco is about three hours, around 140km. There is absolutely nothing between the town towns but jungle, a few random houses and a whole lot of highway. And this place, the flying saucer restaurant!
We finally arrived in Huánuco around 9pm Thursday night. We got off the bus and took a deep breath, savoring the cool air. Happy that we had survived the trip we set off to get a room for the night. The best way to find a room is to go to the Plaza de Armas. If you have read my blog, you know every city here has one. They are usually the hub of the city. We got a motokar for 1.50 soles and were on our way to the Plaza. The motokars in Huánuco are different than Pucallpa. They are enclosed, quiet and the drivers are much more cautious and courteous. They fare is also about 50% less than we are used to paying for traveling the same distance.
We got a room around two blocks off the Plaza and dropped out backpacks off and headed out to get some dinner around 9:45. The first thing I noticed was how clean the city is compared to Pucallpa. Another wonderful plus about the city is there are almost NO stray dogs. Drivers actually obeyed the traffic lights! Since the streets are all very narrow and one way there is none of the U-Turn chaos that we have here, which was rather nice.
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