I don’t know how or why I won it, but it was for two couple to visit the coast of Peru to see where the famious sea creatures that abounded there. So, I asked my closest friend, Joey Giardino and his wife to travel with me and my wife at that time, uh-hmmm, oh yes, Barbara. Our kids were young, Six and Seven, so they stayed with Barbara’s parents. Her father was a man I loved for his quiet manner,and how we worked together on his two family home in the town of Yonkers. N. Y.
Naturally, we had to fly to Lima and then had a rental car when we arrived. I had just begun travelling to Hong Kong and was used to flying a long distance. The others found it exciting, but a little scary but they knew the coming experience Calwould make up for it. The problem we had to consider was the language difference, but both Joey and his wife Joan spoke Italian fluently, so we knew we’d overcome any real barrier.
When we arrived, it was a little challenging trying to rent a car, as it seems the car we won for the trip south was a Volkswagen bug, but since I had been using one in Fresno, California, I drove the whole trip. The problem was that the girls had to sit in the back with not much breathing room. The first thing we noticed was the dress of the people. Because of Peru being so close to the equator, it was unusually hot for us, but not the locals as they wore long robes with hats that looked like pancakes. We spent the first night in a hotel supplied by our gift, so we had time to acclimate. Very early the next morning, we began to our trip to the ocean. We were given maps in Spanish, but again, they were easily understood. As we left the Capitol, everything changed drastically, as the roads were broken up with areas we had to go around because of the condition they were in. But hey we were on an adventure and that was to be expected. As we traveled, people, mainly women who were dressed as I said with long robes to protect them from the sun and with hats that were completely flat on top. On the top of their hard they carried either wood bundles, or boxes. The best part was they balanced it all without using their hands… Amazing. The side of the road was filled with these women all walking slowly, some talking to each other, with little children following behind them.
It took about three hours to reach a point on the map that showed a traffic circle that we needed to reach going south and thereafter a sharp right turn directly to the ocean. As we approached the point where we were to turn, it looked like the road just ended ahead, so I slowed as we reached it but I noticed that the road went to the left, and as I approached the turn and went into it, a van came from from that direction traveling pretty fast. I swerved to the right. But both cars met. Boom! Stopped dead, but noone hurt either in our car or the van. Out jumped a bunch of men in soldiers uniforms. All coming around our car speaking Spanish. I got out of the car and held up my arms and pointed to my mouth and American. They all stopped and one who must have been in charge spoke a very poor English, saying what was I doing going in the wrong direction? I said what do you mean the road goes to the right pointing as I said it. He yelled No! No! And pointed to the road on my left, and sure enough, there was a road there. As I looked more I saw that it was a traffic circle. Wow! Wow! I said I’m sorry with a true expression of Schick. I said I didn’t see the right turn and said it was my first time using my finger to point. All the soldiers saw what happened and began laughing and talking all at once. The guy in charge also saw what happened an said he understood, but he had damage to his van. I said me too and this was a rental car. The damage on both cars was minimal, but it was there. He then said that he was going to have to explain what happened. I said it OK as we have insurance and they will pay for it all. He explained to his men something and they all shook their heads and motioned No, No, and the boss turned to me and in his broken English and said that they had a big problem. I asked what and he said that they were not supposed to be using the van and all would get into big trouble, and they would have to pay to fix the damage. I looked at him and them and asked how much to fix it? He said a lot of pesos, and they had no money to pay for it, and since it partly my fault, I should pay. I said how much to fix it and he threw a number at me in pesos, and I tried to calculate it into US Dollars. We really didn’t have many pesos and I said I would help and said I give him $20.00 US dollars. He said how much was it in pesos, and I told him it was more than enough to fix his van. I said I was very sorry that this happened and needed to get to the ocean and then back again to Lima before it got dark. It turned out they were all going to some party and they too had to get back before dark. So, I said that I also wanted to pay for all their dinner tonight, and handed him $30.00 US dollars. All the men cheered and we all laughed. I knew that what I was giving them was an alfull lot of money. I then said that I would never forget today and life between us came together from an accident! We all laughed and then we were on our way. More to follow