The past month has been a whirlwind… and I moved!! Not just houses, I changed sites. I now live in the beautiful town of Contumazá, Cajamarca with 2,100 Peruvians. The self proclaimed home of intellectuals and wheat. The town sits at just under 9,000 ft. and is literally built into the side of a mountain. (You know what that means… my butt will look great in a year because I climb about 35 flights of stairs everyday.)
Now, how did I get all of my stuff to this new town? That is an interesting story and part one of “the BIG move”.
From Santa Cruz to Contumazá it’s ten hours of travel time, through three cities. Now you’re probably thinking that I’ll just hire a U-Haul and pay someone to drive all of my stuff from point A to point B. Wrong! That would be too easy, and in Peru nothing is that easy.
Being a woman that always has a plan, a few days before the move I called and visited as many of the bus companies as I could to try and make a plan on how to get a desk, bed frame, mattress, three suitcases, chairs, and a kitchen to my new town. Unfortunately I was met with the same answer across the board, “I have no idea how much it will cost or if it’s possible, you need to come with all your stuff the day of and talk to the bus driver.”
Adventure #1: Packing
Well Peace Corps kind of took the stance of you figure it all out and we will reimburse you, so I enlisted the help of a few Peruvian friends to help me along the way. Starting with how do you pack when there are all of three cardboard boxes in your whole town?! Giant plastic market bags. After 8 hours of covering all the big stuff in plastic and cardboard and packing suitcases etc. we finished with a spotless room!
Adventure #2: Santa Cruz to Chiclayo
Even though I lived three blocks from the bus station in Santa Cruz it was still going to be impossible to carry everything, so we went searching for a “cargo moto” to come early in the morning. In one trip we loaded everything and took it to the bus station at 5:30 am.
Once we arrived at the bus station we had to bargain with the bus driver and the guy who is in charge of cargo. Let me tell you they took one look at the mountain of things I was trying to move and just laughed. At the end of the day almost everything fit under the bus and my headboard, the only thing that didn’t fit, was put on the next bus out of town.
Adventure #3: The Chiclayo bus mishap
This was the part of the move I was most nervous about, getting my stuff from one bus station to another in Chiclayo… AKA one of the most dangerous cities in Peru and where I was robbed. Our plan was to find a truck and go to a bus station that I had called ahead of time to ask about extra cargo. Just to double check I called again before trying to transport everything across town and this time they told me no!! They said they take extra suitcases but don’t have room for a bed, mattress etc. In kind of a panic I turned to my friend and just started crying… being the creative Peruvian that he is, he got in a cab and started hunting for a bus company that would take extra furniture.
After an hour of sweet talking we finally found one that took pity on me and agreed to take the extra cargo, for a hefty price of course. Now to move everything across town…
I have heard many horror stories about people hiring a random truck off the street in Chiclayo and then being taken to a sketchy part of town and robbed of literally all of their belongings. So after getting a creepy vibe from a few people we talked to my friend started calling around and we found this amazing couple with an older truck that could fit everything! In about an hour everything was safely in the next bus terminal ready for the next leg of my moving adventure.
My headboard also arrived safely on the next bus and via taxi was transported onto the next leg! It never ceases to amaze me how ingenious Peruvians are… literally anything can be tied to the top of a taxi.
Adventure #4: Chiclayo to Chilete
After spending the night in Chiclayo we got up early to take the first bus out of town and to my surprise when we got to the bus station half of my belongings were gone! After a few seconds of freaking out I found out that the big items had been sent on a bus the night before because there was more room. I was assured that they would be waiting for me in Chilete. Nothing I can do now… except pray that everything is there.
So after another five hour bus ride we get to Chilete, a medium sized sierra town that has a lot of through traffic between the coast and the sierra. When we arrive in Chilete I see a big pile of furniture sitting in the plaza. Yes, my furniture arrived the night before and was just dumped in the plaza because it was too much to fit in their tiny office there. Lucky for me there was a homeless man guarding it and when I arrived he was so friendly and helped me load everything into the next truck, and then asked me for the most outrageous amount of money. To which I responded with a reasonable amount of money and some grumbles about how much the bus company sucks for just dumping my stuff. Asi es Peru!
(Sorry at this point I was too exhausted to remember to take pictures of everything/ so over moving.)
Adventure #5: Chilete to Contumazá
Luckily and unluckily for me I was going to be arriving to my new town homeless, because it had taken so many months to get the move approved that the housing I had arranged was not available anymore. Luckily, because this meant my boss from Cajamarca decided to meet me in Chilete and help with transporting everything to Contumazá and then finding a new host family. Unluckily, because this meant my first hours in Contumazá after a long, sweaty, smelly trip were spent knocking on doors and trying to find someone who was renting a room!
After an entire morning of no luck we decided to eat lunch at a house turned restaurant a few blocks from the plaza. At the end of the delicious meal I asked the señora if she knew of any rooms for rent and miraculously there was a room upstairs that had just opened up! Unfortunately the keys were 4 hours away in Trujillo with the owners of the house. So without seeing the room I decided that’s where I would live and then checked into the town hotel for some much needed sleep.
It was the best decision I’ve ever made… wait for part two! The room reveal.