After we left the Nazca area we stocked up on food as we were in for a long three days of driving on a very windy road. It climbs from sea level to 15,000 feet over 600 miles. We would stop and wild camp each night with out any type of facilities. There are towns along the road but there are not much more than a few gas stations and maybe a place to by some fruit and vegetables. The first two days went well, we had some gorgeous camp sites and not a soul around. The third day we woke up early and decided that we would get a jump on the day and reach Cusco Peru by days end. We woke at 6:30 and were on the road by 7:15. The first gas station was not far up the road and since we did not want to stop much through out the day we decided to get some gas. As Doug filled up the tank Lindsey made sure all the snacks and lunch was ready for easy access. Everything looked good Doug did his final walk about around the rig to make sure everything was tidy outside and just as he was finishing up the rear of the truck, he noticed that the dually tires on the driver’s side looked slightly off and then he noticed that there was oil splattered all over the tires. His heart sunk and he knew it could only be one thing, that our axle had failed again and this time we were in the middle of nowhere.
Doug came over to Lindsey’s side and said “whelp we are finished” she looked at him like he had three eyes and said “what do you mean?” he went on to tell her his discoveries and they both just looked at each other with disbelief, there was not much we could do but access the situation and figure out how the heck we were going to get out of it. Doug wanted to be sure what he was seeing was correct so Lindsey took to the wheel and drove around the gas station a few times until Doug was confident that the axle has failed again. As he was looking at the tires a guy approached him and asked what he was doing, Doug told him and the gentleman said that he was the mechanic at the gas station and all the trucks around were what he was fixing. They spoke for a little bit and agreed that we would not be going anywhere however there was a mechanic shop two hours down the road and we could get it fixed there. We parked the rig and then got to work removing the axle. One thing we did not do when we left the last major city was stalk up on emergency funds (cash) and we were running very low, so Lindsey set out to find an ATM. Doug stayed back and started the daunting process of removing the rear axle. About an hour later Lindsey returned empty handed and reported to Doug that the town had been out of electricity for two days and they were uncertain when it would return.
After a couple of hours, the axle is off and to our understanding we were driving two hours down the road to Abancay. However, when we had the axle loaded in the vehicle transporting us the mechanic informed us that we actually needed to go to Cusco. Now we are happy to go to a major city but Cusco was 8 hours away. We both looked at each other and then argued that he told us 2 hours and he said no he told us Cusco. We said well if we would have known that we would have waited for a tow because now we have to drive 8 hours to Cusco, wait for it to be repaired and then 8 hours back to the rig. We were both in disbelief however this was our reality and we could not argue anymore in Spanish.
We packed our bags and loaded up in the taxi that the mechanic arranged for us. And off we went, 8 hours to Cusco. We left at 1:30 so that would put us in Cusco at around 8 or 9 depending on how the drive went. We both had no idea where we would stay but we could not think about anything other than the crazy driver we were assigned. Yes, all drivers in Peru are crazy but this one liked to live on the wild side by going 60 miles an hour around 20 mile an hour curves in the wrong lane, while preforming the sign of the cross and kissing his thumb every time we have a near miss. We both LOATH this guy and from here on out his name will be JA (Jack Ass). When we reach the town of Abancay we stop at an ATM and here the power is on so Doug takes out as much money as he can. When he reaches back to the car JA asks for money to get some gas, we had originally agreed to a price before we left the rig but now the price jumped another $200. Doug argued a bit however did not win and gave him half of what he was asking for, he would get the rest once the job was finished. We got gas and then went on our way again. We were making good time thanks to JA’s driving until we reached a town (unknown name) and he pulled off on a dirt road and started headed up through a neighborhood. Doug asked where we were going and he said he was stopping by his family’s house. Doug said just for a bit we need to get to Cusco. JA nodded and got out of the vehicle at his “family’s” house. Well no one was around and he just kept knocking on the gate and asking people as they walked by where they were (what I presume he was saying). People kept shrugging their shoulders and finally Doug yelled Vamanos (LET’S GO) and then a woman showed up. They spoke for a minute and then she came over to Doug’s door, introduced herself to both of us and asked if we would mind if she spoke to JA for a little bit. With not much we could do we said yes just for a bit, JA said 20 minutes and we yelled back 5. So, they went over between the truck and the house and you could tell that they were not happy with each other, and then you realized that this actually is his ex-wife and yep she REALLY is not happy with him. We couldn’t do anything but watch and then she started pushing him, and pushing him. Then she came over the to truck and opened Doug’s door and started to tell Doug that he needed to get out of the truck and take the axle out of the back, that we were not going anywhere in the truck. Lindsey locked her back doors and Doug turned and put himself in defense position, we had no clue what this woman was capable of. Doug refused to get out of the truck. The woman was not necessarily yelling at Doug, she was more yelling at JA to get us out of the truck that she was going to take it. When JA refused she started beating on the truck and at that point we both knew this situation was getting worse and we needed to do something. Lindsey told Doug the back doors where locked and noticed that the keys to the truck were still in the ignition. About that time the woman took JA and slammed him into the concrete wall and Lindsey with out thinking jumped into the driver’s seat started the truck and got it turned around, we did not want to steal a truck so Doug advised Lindsey to stop a little up the road. Meanwhile, we look back and they are in a full on brawl. Then the woman gets up and starts throwing rocks at the truck and we hear JA say SIGA SIGA SIGA (GO GO GO) so we start driving and JA runs past the truck and Lindsey follows him, the rocks keep coming Doug reaches back and unlocks the door and JA jumps in the back seat and Lindsey guns it. JA is in the back seat saying SIGA SIGA, “go go” and then left and then right and then we make it to the main road and Lindsey just drives. JA is in the back seat shaking and breathing very hard. At this point Lindsey looks at Doug and says there is no way I am letting him drive so she ends up driving the rest of the way to Cusco.
As we approach Cusco we start talking about how we don’t trust this guy and what are we going to do. Where are we going to stay? The best thing we could come up with was to find a hotel that had parking, locked parking. Where we can be sure that he will not leave with our axle. Then we say well where is he going to stay, Lindsey didn’t care he could have slept on the street but we knew we needed to get him a room. So, we got him the cheapest room and told the front desk not to open up the gate for him what so ever. We got a fitful night of sleep and woke bright and early at the direction of our driver. He said we needed to be up at 6:00 to meet the owner of the machine shop. We woke at 5:30 went to breakfast at 6:00 and waited and waited and waited for JA to exit his room. Finally, Doug went and banged on his door and told him to be in the lobby in 10 we did not leave the hotel until 8:00, two full hours after JA told us to be ready. We then found our way to the machine shop and when we arrived we were told that the person would not be in for an hour so now we had to wait for an hour to get the process started. JA had told us that he was in contact with the person doing the repairs so Doug questioned him and he just gave Doug a stupid look and a shrug of the shoulders and acted like he didn’t understand.
The person shows up and tells us that he can’t take the axle apart so we need to take it to a mechanic to get it disassembled. So now its 9:30 and we still have started the “repair” process. After driving around for a bit, we find a mechanic that has the tool we need to take the axle apart. We always seem to have an audience around. Once the axle was disassembled, we headed back to the machine shop, finally the axle is on the lathe and being worked on. Funny side note, we did not need to go to the mechanic Doug and I could have taken it apart ourselves and saved time and money. They had no clue what they were talking about….
Alright deep breath the machine shop is working on the problem and now all we have to do is wait. JA decides that he wants to go buy new lights for his truck (or his ex-wife’s truck, who knows) and tells us that he will be back in one hour to get us. That was fine with us as we needed to find an ATM to get more cash on us. Lindsey repeatedly says to JA only one hour, no more and he left. Doug and I were successful in finding an ATM but it would only let us take out a small portion of what we needed so we decided we would go back and meet up with JA then have him take us to the airport where we could exchange some of our American Dollars however we still had about 20 minutes till JA was to report back so walked around for a little bit. Now we are not in the beautiful part of Cusco we are in the real Peruvian Cusco, real life, busy and bustling. There is not much to see so we head back to the mechanic shop and we wait, and wait and wait. Finally, after an hour and a half of waiting we decide that we are going to catch a cab back to the hotel and relax for the rest of the day. We first stop at the airport and get our American dollars exchanged and then hail a taxi to take us to the hotel. We agreed on a price before we got into the vehicle and when we arrived Doug gave the driver the agreed upon amount and then the driver tells Doug that he also owes for the airport parking fee and we both just loose it. This is not what we agreed upon, you can’t just change the price and just utter disbelief. Now Lindsey has only cried twice on this journey. Once when Rolo passed and again at this moment of purely being so mad at these stupid Peruvian’s. She left the situation and left Doug to deal with it. The front desk noticed that Lindsey was crying and went out to see what the problem was. It was resolved and Doug and Lindsey went up to the room and locked out the world for three hours.
We went back to the shop and the axle was done, but we had no clue as to where JA was. The machine shop owner said that he did come back to get us (like three hours after he said he would) and that he would return at 5:00 to meet us. Well the axle was ready at 5:00 and again we waited and waited. We agreed that if he did not show up by 6:00 we would leave the axle and arrange other transport back to the rig the next day. We waited and just at 6:00 rolled around so did JA. We loaded up and JA said ok let’s go back to the rig and we looked at him at this point and laughed. We made him go to the hotel lock up his truck and told him to bugger off, not really, we got him a room and told him to be up by 6:00. We shut the door to the world again and did not come out till the early morning.
Again, we had to bang on JA’s door to get him moving. Luckily it was Lindsey banging on the door and she hopes that he had a heart attack. He was up and we left Cusco at 7:00 am. On the way back, the alternator failed on JA’s truck so we had to stop and get this fixed, well this added another hour to the day and we finally arrived back to the rig at 2:00. Doug reluctantly paid JA and wished him good riddance. JA said bye to Lindsey but the look she had on her face must have scared him away. AND OFF HE WENT… Thank goodness that part is over.
We really wanted to have the axle just magically attach itself but we knew that was not going to happen. The mechanic who helped us get it off was no where around so we got started. After a bit a nice kid showed up and told us that his Dad (the mechanic) sent him to help us. He was very knowledgeable and intelligent and we got way further in the process before it got dark than we thought we would and there was not much to do the next day to finish the job. So, we paid him what we had agreed upon with the mechanic and told him to come back at 7 in the morning. The next morning at 6:45 the boy was there ready to work. We finished the install of the axle and Doug paid him a little bit more and then the mechanic came to get paid. Doug said, well I paid the boy because he was the one that helped, well this made the mechanic angry and he said the boy works for him and that we should not have paid him. Doug said he did not know that but here was some money for his help. This infuriated the mechanic even more and told Doug that he owed him way more. Doug had no choice, we were in the middle of nowhere and who knows what this guy is capable of so Doug gives him more money and then he starts telling us in a very mean and demanding voice to go, get out of there! Luckily, we had everything tightened up with the rig and we peeled out of the damn gas station hoping to never, EVER see any of those people again. 96 hours after we pulled into the gas station our hell was over and we were on our way to Cusco…again. We made it all the way and when we arrived, we were greeted by some fellow travelers that we had meet previously on the road. We were so happy to see gringos and some relatively familiar faces.
Since the axle has failed for the third time and the new repairs have proven to be insufficient, we are feeling extremely vulnerable. Without access to an entire new rear end we are confident the problem will continue. We have been paying out large amounts of money and continue to get the same outcome. That said, sadly our journey is over for the time being and we will be shipping the truck back to the United States as soon as we can find a carrier out of Lima, Peru or Santiago, Chile.
Our spirits are high and we look forward to what the future holds. We will continue to update the blog as we are going to be traveling with family through Macchu Picchu and on to the Amazon over the next few weeks.
Thank you for reading and following along.
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