January 14, 2006

A Not-So-Savoury Adventure!

Feeling a little bit blue today. EVerything was going great, had a very enjoyable day yesterday, and then boom! out of the blue, this morning I wake up and I´m on the verge of tears. It could possibly have been meeting up with two Irish girls from Kerry yesterday (Julie and Brigid) - had lunch with them and spend most of the day chatting. It was a relief to talk to someone who actually understoond me, for a change. Even the other English speakers I meet have difficulties - probably with either the speed or pronunciation of my English. So, for a few hours yesterday I was able to relax for a while and not make much of an effort.But I think the real catalyst was a not so savoury adventure I had in the desert last night!

So, due to my tummy trouble, I spent a few days in Nazca waiting for it to settle before I got back on a rickety looless bus again! Initially, I think the hotel staff assumed I was travelling with the Irish girls Julie and Bridget, but when they left it became more obvious I was in fact a solo traveller. In predictable fashion the male members of the staff beat a path to my spot beside the pool to try their luck and "help me with my Spanish" :D. On my last night there, they invited me to go to a fiesta that was taking place in the town square. ALL the hotel staff were going, they said. So this was one of those decisions you are frequently faced with as a lone traveller:-

Do you play it safe and pass up on a local cultural experience OR do you go for it, take a risk and step outside your comfort zone?

In a heartbeat, I opted for the latter. At 10'clock that evening a knock came to my door. Pablo, the hotel chef, buffed and gelled to pick me up. When we got downstairs Andrea, the head waiter was waiting with a taxi running. Red flag #1. "Why are we taking a taxi guys? The plaza is right over there....". They assured me we would back to the fiesta, but first they wanted to take me to their favourite karoke bar. Now, as any of you who have been to Nazca will know, it is a tiny little place with maybe 3 or 4 bars tops, so I still couldn't fathom the necessity for transportation. But, I decided to trust them and hopped in the car. Minutes later, we were speeding out into the desert leaving the twinkling lights of the town behind and heading into TOTAL blackness. Red flag #2.

After about 15 mins, we arrived at what can only be described as a shed in the middle of nowhere. It's only connection to civilisation were the electricity cables running up to it. Inside in the gloom, there were empty chairs and tables, the faint glow of a tv in a far corner of the room and a vest-clad sweaty looking barman hanging over a counter. As I walked through the door, I looked over my shoulder and watched our taxi leaving clouds of dust behind it as it sped off back in the direction of Nazca.

Four beers later, I was starting to relax and I was having a pretty good laugh with my companions Andrea and Pablo. I was a little anxious about the fact that it was nearly midnight and we were missing the party back in town. They kept assuring me that after the next beer we would definitely go. Just as I thought we were gettign ready to wrap things up, the door swung open and a group of about 10 local farmers entered the bar. I don't exaggerate when I say that they stopped dead in their tracks at the sight of a woman, a white woman, a blonde woman in this their local watering hole. They stared, they muttered to each other, they stared some more. Eventually, after what felt like hours, they moved to some tables, ordered their drinks, sat down and continued to stare. At this point, Andrea thought it would be a fine idea for us to dance to the pop karoke that was blaring from the tv. Despite my loud protestations I was yanked to the floor and whirled around in full display of my boozing male audience. I was starting to get reaaally uncomfortable. This, my friends, is well outside your comfort zone!

Thinking then that I was fair game, various men took their turns coming up and trying to bargain with Andrea. My limited Spanish allowed me to pick out what sounded like a few derogatory comments, and when they started laughing together I thought to myself "That's it, you need to get the hell out of here - now."

I asked once nicely if we could leave. I was told, sure after the next beer. I asked nicely twice. Still no luck. Then I got mad. I demanded to be brought back to town. "Relaxxx senorita, you must dance, you must drink". Not least disturbing was the fact that by now by two male companions were themselves now nicely toasted and starting to get just a bit too frisky. Desperate times call for desperate measures, so I did something I would NEVER normally do. I stood up, looked Andrea square in the eye and I said "If you dont take me back to the hotel RIGHT now, you are not going to have a job tomorrow". I cringe even thinking that I had to say that to anyone, but it worked!

30 mins later we were back at the hotel. I scurried up the hotel stairs in the pitch darkness to my room. Just when I thought the night was finally over and I was safely back, I heard drunken stumbling footsteps on the stairs behind me. Pablo, seeing me back to my room at the end of the night. Drunk and pretty harmless really, he was chancing his luck one last time. I managed to persuade him that irresistible as he was, I was nobia (spoken for) to someone back in Ireland. With a parting hug, he shuffled back down the stairs and I gratefully went to my bed, locking the door firmly behind me.
Leaving Nazca today for Arequipa, but the bus doesnt depart until almost 11. Having to check out of the hotel at 12a.m. meant that I have had to pass some long hours today. I´m hoping that once I move on to a new place I will feel better. It helped to talk to my family today who were on-line at the same time as me, although it did result in some silly tears being shed. Feeling better now though.
Tummy trouble seems to have settled for a while. Something to be very glad about! especially while travelling. Hopefully, I can just crash out on the bus and sleep. ALthough, you have to be careful about everything - when you travel solo you are on constant high alert - double checking everything, not falling into too deep a sleep in case someone steals your bags! There are few times when you are not always thinking/assessing/scoping things out. With a bit of luck, the bus will be a lunatic/thief free zone. Arriving in Arequipa at 7:30a.m. tomorrow morning - not sure if that´s a good or a bad thing yet. We´ll see when I get there. The hostal I´m stayng in sounds pretty good and its only $7 a night - great!
Nazca has been an experience - came in contct with some real characters here. They are a very friendly, warm people who really want to portray the best side of their country. Okay, so the men can be a little irritating when they perceive that you on your own - they can turn into pests, but you can get those in any country, right? :D
So, I say goodbye to four long relaxing days in Nazca - probably a little too long to spend here as , apart from the Lineas, there´s not much to see here, but it was good to chill out in the sun for a few days.

No comments:

Post a Comment