Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Arrival in Pisco: White Men Can Kind of Jump

The bus ride from Lima to Pisco was about 4 hours, a nice ass warm-up for some of the longer trips I'll be taking along my journey. There was an 8.0 earthquake in Pisco in 2007, which killed over 400 people and destroyed most of the city's buildings. The organization I'm volunteering with, Pisco Sin Fronteras, coordinates volunteers from all over the world in rebuilding projects around the city, such as homes, schools and sanitation facilities. Volunteers also do other work in the community like teaching english and working at day cares.

The bus ride was beautiful; huge sand dunes separated the Pan American highway from the mighty Pacific. The sun was setting gorgeously as the bus pulled into Pisco. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get a photo of this scene, because I'm pretty sure a pair of Peruvians were scheming on stealing my bag. Perhaps I'm just paranoid, but they got on the bus about a half hour outside of Pisco, one sitting next to me and the other behind him.

Immediately after sitting down, the man next to me pointed out that there was water on the floor next to my bag. Initially I thought my water bottle had leaked, which would have been devastating (computer, camera), but I checked and my bottle was sealed tighter than Tom Tancredo's sphincter when he walks the streets of Denver alone at night.

The guy next to me offered to put my bag in the compartment above, and it was at that moment that I realized his buddy behind him had spilled the water on the floor as they boarded the bus, and it was all a plot to steal my luggage... I think. So I clung tight to my backpack for the rest of the ride, and hence, no photo. But here is a photo of the sunset from the next day instead:

I arrived at PSF, and everyone was just finishing dinner. I ate a little bit of chicken stew and chatted with Pete, PSF's volunteer coordinator, who looks like he must have partied with my parents at some point in the past. Since the place was packed with volunteers, I was given a bed in the hallway adjacent to the kitchen, separate from the volunteer house where everyone normally sleeps. I later found out that sleeping here ensures a 6 AM wake up as they begin cooking breakfast.

After dinner, about half the volunteers were planning to watch "The Never-Ending Story" and half were going to play some basketball. As much as I admire Atreu, I think the giant albino flying dog has haunted enough of my dreams for two lifetimes, and I usually stick to stories that have an ending. Plus I prettymuch busted a nut in my pants then and there when they said basketball rather than football (soccer). So prettymuch fresh out of my taxi, I walked with a few dozen other volunteers a couple blocks to the dusty concrete court.

The rims had no nets, and the lines on the court were smaller than they should have been, but the lighting system was actually quite impressive. We split up into 3 teams of 6-7 players each and began playing. Most of the people volunteering here are European, so there was some serious soccer-style defense going on. I'm pretty sure a couple people thought dribbling wasn't allowed. Despite the general lack of anyone knowing what the fuck they were doing, it was still quite fun, especially because everyone here is so darn friendly... one British guy smiled sheepishly after innocently hip-checking me to the ground on a drive.

In the second or third game, I had a break-away. There was one defender under the hoop who luckily decided not to undercut me. Wearing a hat, pants and hiking shoes, I went up for what was generally agreed upon by everyone there as the first dunk in Pisco history. I was pretty happy with my first impression!

I got back to my bed, sweaty as hell. There is no running water after 8 pm in the building I was staying in, and I didn't feel at that point like walking over to the volunteer house to shower. Also, considering my surroundings, it felt fitting to go to bed filthier than a Rodney Dangerfield daydream. I forgot to mention, along with the crack of dawn wake up, the hallway is also frequented by a rat as well as a handful of flies and mosquitos. It's also quite hot and my bed was about as soft as a boner... and I couldn't have been happier.