I’ve only been in Peru for ten days now, but I’m not kidding when I say it might have been the most eventful ten days of my life. We’ve done everything from hitchhiking to party rocking to having intense discussions about religion and excrement (hi Amanda). Oh, and dropping our water tank down a cliff and rescuing it back. It’s a touchy subject for me, but Chamsi keeps bringing it up every time we pass the place the tank fell so I can never forget about it. I guess the best way to deal with traumatic events like this is to write about them, so here goes.
It was a normal day of trenching in La Pitajaya Alta, when suddenly we got a phone call from Andres telling us that we had to pick up a bunch of materials from Alan. We rushed down to get the materials out of Alan’s truck and once we did, we started transferring them to La Pitajaya. Nihar and I ended up with the Rotoplas tank, a formidable white beast that looked hard to tame. Fortunately, appearances are often deceiving, and the white beast was actually a lot lighter than it looked. I think Caden thought of rolling it up the hill, but everyone shot down the idea (except me of course). So Nihar and I tried carrying it up the hill, but it ended up getting heavy so I suggested rolling it, mainly because Caden’s a smart guy. And what do you know, rolling it up the hill was a lot easier than carrying it. We rolled it up the hill for a while, until El Aguador told us to stop because the stones might damage the tank. I was a bit disappointed, so we tried carrying it again, this time with the help of Edin and El Aguador. Then we got to a narrow section of the trail, and I was on the inside, on the edge of the cliff. I accidentally stepped into a ditch, losing contact with the tank, and the others lost control and the tank was pushed off the cliff into the valley. It must have fallen for at least 20 seconds, with loud thuds whenever it hit something along the way. I gave up and just thought of how much money I wasted and how much time it’d take to get a new tank, but the Peruvians just ran straight down the cliff to salvage the tank. They located the tank, and when we screamed asking them if the tank was okay, they said it was. We went nuts. Everyone raced down eagerly to get to the tank, but then they asked us to get soja for them. We weren’t sure what that meant, so I raced back up to get some black cable wire. I was halfway down when they told me that they wanted rope, so I ran back up and jogged to Pitajaya Alta, where Maria gave me some rope, and I met up with the team at the bottom of the valley with the tank.
Honestly at this point, a lot of us were pretty pooped and I was pretty worn from running all over. But then we tied the rope around the tank, and the Peruvians handed me the rope, as if challenging me to right my wrongs. I took a good long stare into the eyes of that white beast and accepted the challenge. The rest of the team would lift the tank up, and I would pull the rope up the mountain (which was probably 60 degrees steep), screaming like a donkey most of the time. Slowly we made progress, but eventually I had to be switched out because I was too tired. It was really a team effort though, and I really appreciate my team members helping to bail me (and the tank) out. I’d probably still be in that valley without them, and we had a lot of team bonding that day (sorry Andres and Kasturi, you guys missed out). Well, after about two hours of excruciating pulling, pushing, and carrying, we set the Rotoplas tank down in La Pitajaya Alta. I don’t remember the last time I felt that much physical relief when it was over. The beast had finally been tamed.
[Editor's Note: Since then, we've totally dropped the subject. Just like you dropped the tank, Ben.]
Another day we’d just finished trenching and just started walking down the hill when I said to Nihar, “You know, today was a chill day. Not too much work, pretty relaxing.” I spoke too soon. We got down the mountain around 5:30, the same time that a truck filled with sand and rocks was supposed to arrive. We waited. And waited. And some of us did some sort of a workout. And then waited some more. Finally we decided to grab dinner when the truck arrived at 8:00, way too late for the police man to pick us up. The truck drove us to the base of the hill, where we spent a good thirty minutes shoveling the sand and rocks to the ground. Honestly, I was feeling pretty sick and tired at this point and just wanted to be home as soon as possible. So I prayed to God that we would be able to quickly hitch a ride back to Samne, and guess what happened. The first car that drove by offered to hitch us all a ride, free of charge. You have to understand, this was at 9 pm when there’s little traffic, and even fewer buses that run this late, so finding a ride this fast was pretty much a miracle. The whole car ride back, we were admiring the beautiful night sky, the stars completely unhindered by light pollution, shining radiantly against the black backdrop of space. Stars and solar systems that were light years away, yet able to contribute the glorious splendor that we witnessed with our own eyes. I just felt lucky to be a hitchhiker with the world’s clearest guide to the galaxy.
A truck (formerly) filled with sand and rock! The infamous object that someone (not mentioning names) dropped off a mountain Sunday dance parties with Alan's family!