When living in Ayacucho for the summer, I decided to travel to Huancayo to visit another college friend who was living there for the summer and the easiest way to get there was a 12 hour bus ride through the Andes Mountains. So one weekend, I decided to visit her and venture out from Ayacucho to experience the long, bumpy bus ride and let me tell you, what a ride it was! I think the bus ride through the Andes Mountains from Ayacucho to Huancayo is one of the most exciting ones I had the pleasure to experience and I had quite a few. It was a rough, unpaved road and it was in very poor condition most of the way.
For a large portion of time, it followed a beautiful valley, cut out from the flowing Mantaro River. The Mantaro River runs along a large portion of the road from Ayacucho to Huancayo and I would say for at least 5 hours of the trip you can see the river from either side of the bus window. In some sections there seems to be a lot of water and then in other sections, it is mostly a dried river bed, although I was visiting Peru during it’s dry months. Some sections of the road have a cliff on one side and sheer drop off on the other so some people may want to close their eyes while traveling along portions of the journey so they don’t feel sick or think they will fall over the edge of the drop off. You can also see a variety of beautiful shades of color throughout the mountain ranges that included bright red, purple and blue rock. Seeing that in contrast to the jade color of the water in the Mantaro River below made this landscape seem like a watercolor painting from one of the greats like monet, only ten times better because it was en vivo! Besides the endless supply of scenery, you were able to see many small towns with local community churches and houses and even a few snow capped mountains off in the distance! The scenery is absolutely stunning and beautiful!
Half way through the journey we had to stop for construction that was taking place along the route and in those situations, there is nothing you can do except wait cuando hay hombres trabajando, like the sign says (Be careful, men working). One time when traveling on a bus from Arequipa to Lima, there was a rock slide that took out the road and stopped traffic in both directions and we sat on the bus for a total of 24 hours without moving so our 20 hour trip turned into a 44 hour trip. That is one trip I will never forget, but we really couldn’t get frustrated because there is nothing that you can do. You just have to be flexible and go with the flow even if that means you are a day late catching your flight. That is just one part of the experience of traveling, you just have to learn to go with the flow!
Sorry, I got distracted, so let me get back to describing the bus trip to visit my friend. Luckily for me, this trip between Ayacucho and Huancayo was more or less the scheduled 12 hour bus journey I had signed up for. There are a lot of trees, but as we climbed in elevation, the trees got shorter and even saw more cactus forests and there was always lots of aloe vera clinging to the sides of mountains. The bus stopped a few times for us to eat, use the bathroom and pick up and drop off other passengers throughout the journey. While on the section of the road that was a sheer drop off down to the Mantaro River below, our bus driver was speeding around each of the turns like a race car driver. He could have been our guide rafting on the river below the way he was hugging those curves! Luckily heights don’t bother me, but for people who have a fear of heights, this bus ride might bother them or at least make them a little big nauseous.
Luckily, there is so much beautiful scenery all around you that even if you are scared of heights, you may not even notice the bus hugging so close the edge of a cliff or how high you are above the valley floor as you are breathtakingly enjoying the gorgeous landscape around you! Bus travel and traveling by bus is one of the treasures of traveling in other countries; the treasures of long bumpy bus rides, the treasures of no air conditioning, the treasures of crowded buses, the treasures of construction and rock slides, the treasures of talking to new strangers that you meet along the way and the treasures of just getting lost in the beauty of this world! As the saying goes, “it’s not the destination but the journey that matters!”