Embarrassing stories happen a lot when you are full time travellers however the story about our van breaking down on the first day of our Peru to Canada road trip definitely ranks as one of the most embarrassing.
We had left early from Pisac with intent to drive to Puerto Maldonado to stay a few days at the Anaconda Lodge for a mini Amazon Jungle experience. We had taken our newly painted Volkswagen Kombi to the mechanic prior to leaving Cusco and she had been given the all clear to do the long drive ahead. It all started out relatively okay but when we hit some of the major mountains on the road we knew we were in trouble. As we were on our own schedule we decided not to rush and made the most of the beautiful drive through the Andean mountains. We pulled over for a picnic lunch, scenic stops and even let the big lorries on the road overtake us as we slowly crawled up the hills.
We stopped for dinner at a campground to let the kids stretch their legs and give the van a rest before we completed our journey for the day. Approximately 25 kilometres outside of Puerto Maldonado we smelt something burning and pulled over to see what was wrong. Unfortunately we had broken a fan belt.
As we had chosen to take the journey slowly, the time of our final demise was approximately 10pm. We decided it wasn’t safe to leave the van unattended so the two tired kids and I flagged down the next vehicle to take us to the nearest taxi stop while my husband waited with the van.
With limited Spanish I managed to convince a taxi driver to call a tow truck to pick up my husband. I had booked ahead for our accommodation prior to leaving Pisac so instructed the taxi driver to take us to our hostel so I could at least settle the kids into bed. Unfortunately when we arrived there was no one to greet us so we had no choice but to instruct the taxi driver to drive us back out to my waiting husband while we waited for the tow truck. We sat by the road for over an hour waiting for the tow truck to arrive – thankfully it was a pleasant night so sitting outside by the major highway was no hardship for us.
I daresay we must’ve looked quite a sight. Once the tow truck arrived we then asked if the taxi driver could follow it into town and then help us find some accommodation to settle in for the night. We weren’t due to arrive at Anaconda Lodge until the next day and as it was so late, I did not want to cause them any extra bother. By the time our heads hit the pillow it was well past 1am – it had definitely been a long few hours.
Unfortunately for us it was not the last time our Kombi broke down on the stretch from Cusco to Arequipa and we had to invest more money than we would care to admit to get it back on the road again.
As I write, we are now in El Salvador heading to Concepcion de Ataco in El Salvador so we have definitely come a long way since then.