A small woman with a cart full of oranges squeezed every last bit of juice out of the sweet oranges into a glass for Mike and I before we made our short urban trek back to the Loki. As we walked down the busy thoroughfare with the tourist market on our right and the road on our left, I saw a toaster-shaped bus in the distance. The sun slightly blinded me as I recognized the seven plastic chairs, that represented each person in our maiden voyage, on the top rack of the Gypsy Train.
"Mike, Mike...Gypsy Train...Gypsy Train." I screamed as we sprinted towards the Nissan bus.
We ran in front of the bus and I hugged Aleana and Alex and spoke in confused fragments. They had suprised us. Last I had heard, they were driving 1000 km around Ecuador so that the mechanic could check and see how our new engine was running. From the last message I had recieved from them I thought they were five hundred kilometers through the thousand mile journey and in Puerto Lopez.
It had been nearly a month since Mike, Matthias, and I had left A&A in Quito. They bribed the border guards for an extended visa to stay with the bus as it continued to be fixed, and I left for Peru because I couldn't afford the bribe.
Two days after the train arrived in Mancora, Marta returned, sneaking behind people as she crept into the Loki where she found us drinking beer at the bar. She was one day early.
The following day Alex, Alaena, Marta, and I walked down the beach to watch the sunset. There was nothing like a Mancoran sunset; you just had to watch out for all the knife people that lurked the beach in search of vulnerable travelers. The Loki warns all their guests about them. We walked down the beach suspecting every possible knife person, but boldly continued to the perfect spot on a few rocks and watched the sun dissapear.
"You know." I said. "This sunset is great and all, but the thing that is really great is that I am with all of you." We laughed.
I held Marta as Alex held Aleana and we all stood on the rocks and watched the sun until the last speck of light was gone.
"Bye, sun." Aleana said.
"See you tomorrow." Marta screamed as we all waved.
"Thank you." Alex said.
"We will miss you."
As we walked back we discussed the name of the sun. We came to the conclusion his name was Gilbert Finklestein and he was a Jew from Long Island, until Marta said his name was Lorenzo and was Spanish. We figured that made the most sense since we were in South America.
Two days later, monkeyless, with seven, we triumphantly left the Loki with our bus out of Mancora and down the coast. We drove down dirt roads that followed the desert Peruvian coast passing through Cabo Blanco, the small fishing village that inspired Hemingway to write Old Man and the Sea. We were in search for our first campsite. South of Cabo Blanco, the sea is scarred with oil rigs in every direction while the arid hills are criss-crossed with oil pipelines and drills. Marta said that the oil rigs dotting the sea reminded her of the American Navy sitting off the coast of Normandy on D-Day in the way that they specked out across the seacape as far as you could see, some not even being a few a kilometers from each other. The ocean was vibrantly blue and the sand purely white.
We found an old brick house in ruins that sat directly on the beach. In front were great dunes of white sand where we set our tents. Behind us was a desert wasteland full of scars from the black gold rapings of recent years that it suffered under it's sand and desert shrubs. The oil companies own all the land on this northern coast, putting drills in its earth, constructing rigs on its crystalline coast. Seeing all this earthen manipulation in vast quantities makes it hard for me to believe that the human race hasn't already set in motion the process of our own destruction. The Gulf of Mexico BP disaster is a perfect example of the destruction that just one oil rig could create and in front of me, then, atop the greenish blue waters, there were hundreds.
The idea of a green world, is for me, an impossible idea at this point, thinking that turning off a light in your house or driving a Prius is going to contribute anything when we are still destroying our world in a grand way. The only hope we have is that the people who are profitting from destroying our planet take some responsibility for the problems that they have created and make some serious changes.
This entire trip, between the heaps of plastic on the coast and now the revelation of big oil, has been an eye-opening experience in terms of the mass destruction occuring on our planet. I think we are all fucked, so in the words of Jim Morrison, "We better get our kicks before this whole shit-house goes up in flames."
Oh yeah, and two days later, we saw a penguin.
Photos by Marta Anglada