Hazards of Transportation

April 18, 2014

By Alexander Nallin ’13
The second story of transportation difficulties takes place in my site of Montero and happened this past Friday. This is story is not so much about the difficulties of transportation, but rather the rather interesting twists and turns that a Peace Corps Volunteer might take in completing projects.
For the past few weeks I have been working with the local groups of artisans to establish a system for them to sell their products to a store in a neighboring city. This project has been going great so far and I think it will yield great things in the future. For the person doing the organizing work however (i.e. Me) the logistics can be something of a nightmare. Virtually none of the artisans have email addresses (or computers for that matter) and an organized mail system is virtually non-existent. This means that to get any pieces of paper to anybody, a face-to-face exchange is necessitated. This was the case last week when I had to get a document to one of the artisans who lived in a village 30 minutes away from town. I had been trying to call her all week to see when we would be able to meet, but had been getting virtually no success.
On Friday I taught a class in the morning and it ended at 10 AM. My next class wasn’t until 12 PM so I made the impromptu decision to go to the village and give the paper to the artisan. With my backpack in tow I went to the area where the cars hangout and flagged down one of them that was going to a nearby town. He would be passing the village on his way and he said he would let me out there. Getting there was no problem, but I suddenly realized en-route that I would likely have to hitchhike my way back to town. No matter, I’ve hitchhiked quite a few times before. Well when we got to the village I had to knock on a few doors to find the woman’s house in question, but I finally found her after a few attempts. I gave her the paper with no problem and made plans for our next meeting. I then went back to the road to flag down a car. After about 10 minutes of waiting I heard a noise coming toward me, and a huge cargo truck stopped. It was like a delivery truck in the U.S., except that the back was open-air and had to roof. I told the driver I was going to Montero and he told me to hop in. Now when you hitch a ride with these trucks, you don’t get to ride in the cab, you get to climb the ladder on the side and jump in the back.
I was lucky because at least this one had a wooden plank across the front for me to sit down. It was nice to be able to enjoy the view. The only downside was that my head got whacked by 3 or 4 low-hanging tree branches when the truck passed under them. The truck got back to town at around 11:50 AM. I jumped out, walked back to the school, and made it there with 2 minutes to spare to teach my next class.
… Just another day on the job.
Alexander Nallin ’13 is a recent graduate and a current Peace Corps volunteer in Peru.  ”Hazards of Transportation” was originally posted on his blog, “Peruvian Development.