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Henry Biernacki 'Global Henry' -
The Perfect Storm
A Story of Travelers in Lima, Peru
By Henry Biernacki 'Global Henry' -
It was just waking up, under the blanket of clouds, like a cozy room, on a sluggish weekend, where the warm humid air hugs you, while getting out of bed. Air clung to the ground, and the slightest movement began to wake up the day. The sidewalks, drowned from rain showers the night before, glistened under the street lamps and cab headlights. Peru hastily woke up, almost as if an alarm clock went off. He and Doug walked out of Jorge Chavez International Airport,
that morning, in Lima.
Steam lifted, slowly, like the beginning of making a fire. The air stood still, and
people made it move by walking through it. Their tired bodies left the airport, hunting
for a local bus to the city center. A cab would be too expensive. Cab drivers pulled
themselves out their cars, capturing anyone to step into their car.
“The city is too far,” one man said, as passengers continued walking.
Another said, “Ven, los llevo al centro.” They did not need a ride to the city center. Doug stopped to miss a puddle of water. Doug is delicate. He could not get his feet wet. He stated, “Esta bien, vamos por camion.”
Each driver wheezed at such a thought: travelers taking a bus. What could possibly
be happening, they thought, as they looked at one another? That must be absurd: only
locals take the bus.
He and Doug spoke to another few passengers, agreeing to share a taxi to the Miraflores District. He and Doug had a few hours before they caught another flight to Cuzco. They could easily visit that area before they went back to the airport. To their benefit, Atlantic City Casino was open all night; betting on red was calling out to him and maybe Doug. Doug seldom gambled, he could get his feet wet that way.
Five people made the cab cost effective, even for Doug. The first twenty seconds leaving the airport, Doug did his best backseat driving, practically squealing, with the multiple accelerations and unsympathetic braking as they weaved onto Avenida Elmer Faucett. Like several rivers joining in one section, each caused an uproar of splashes, and changing direction, but more or less, still moving a suitable way.
The cabs’ windows were not rolled down; just broken, and sharp beads of water darted in the car, saturating the five people as the driver bounced to the piercing music. It was, simply stated, a lovely morning in Lima. To everyone’s shock, other cars were actually passing them on Av. Elmer Faucett. How anyone passed them, since they were already setting some sort of hydroplaning record, was bewildering.
A crucifix dangled from the rear view mirror, bouncing back and forth, with clues
the tires were losing traction. The wandering catastrophic feeling of hovering into
the next lane was the largest hint. Somehow, the tires managed to find a piece of
pavement to stick to, and they continued in some direction south, to the city center.
He and Doug, and the three other people, could tell the driver was in his zone. He casually pushed the music volume to the right, signaling a tad louder to really give the full effect of the scene, but smiling the moment he did; chanting mantras as he lightly put his hand back on the steering wheel. He was certain he was the safest driver around. The issue: countless other driver’s thinking the exact same thing.
“No puedes,” the driver began to say as he took his eyes off the road and smiled,
“tocar el coche demasiado cuando las calles estan como asi.”
Nobody cared. They wanted him to concentrate on the road, but more importantly, slow down. He would not have any of that. He wanted to drop the five people off and pick up another fare. “Tell him,” one of the people said, gasping for a breath of air and stopped. It was a laughable scene from a movie, but more than a traumatic stretch of moments, to be in the car. They were hoping they were close to Miraflores District, where they could finally touch the soaked ground.
“Todavia, estamos lejos del Districto Miraflores,” Doug asked the man?
They still did not pass San Miguel District. Oh, they had some time left. The rumble
of a bus, without a muffler, came up from behind the car; the perfect storm hit.
They were clear of the puddle, on the road, but the bus had impeccable precision. The tires parted the puddle like a catamaran cutting through water, within seconds, the entire cab became hidden behind a wave; surfing would then be a nice way of saying what began happening. The driver’s hands immediately stopped touching anything. His unique smile disappeared, his head poked up, and his once limp body of relaxation unflatteringly, became erect. He paid close attention to his lack of control of the situation.
Everyone stopped breathing, grabbing anything to brace for the unknown impact. Again, it was the perfect storm; the car rode the wave for what felt like a minute. They wandered off the wave and somehow found the pavement, continuing south. This was their first hour in Lima, Peru, while he and Doug simply wanted to hangout a few hours, before trying to find their way to Cuzco, and finally Machu Picchu.
Henry Biernacki co-