It is my first day in Pisco, a small town situated in southern Peru close to Paracas National Park. The doors to this hostel remain locked at all times which is un-usual, because it is the first place I’ve stayed in Peru with such security. Various travel companions have disappeared scrambling to other corners of South America. Dust surrounds blocks of buildings. Dirt roads have a way of making me feel at ease.
I exit the hostels gleaming doors in search of Internet. Before I leave for an expedition to the park I must send off news and assurance to my mother who, as always, is frantic about me being out in the world. Dust coats my toes as I step off the sidewalk and onto the road. My backpack hangs loosely on my shoulder.
I’ve reached the other side of the intersection and am tugged backwards. The backpack strap slips comfortably into my right hand. I pull back. The man above me strengthens his grip. He is standing on a motor-taxi (motorcycle made into a mini taxi). They are puttering along slowly so I begin to run with them pulling harder on my backpack.
I remember his face plastered to the sky, turning his head every so often to look at the road ahead. This moment is lodged into my memory vault as a mini-video complete with the revving of a motorcycle and my guttural screams. He tells the driver to speed up in Spanish. I will not let go and so I run faster and faster and faster. The ground catches up to me, spinning like a wild carnival ride. It wants to take me with it, and it does. Well, partially anyway. My backpack is still attached to my arms while the rest of me bounces along the gravel road. This is not a good idea. Hands burst open and I sit up in the middle of the street.
I feel my limbs weak and shaking and I think. I sit and I think. ‘There was nothing in that bag, there was nothing in that bag. A lonely planet, a CD, some phone numbers.’ A few tears run down my face because my body is tired. I do not feel the blood droplets down the left side of my back. Strangers gather around me. I am unintelligible and before too long I’m in a luxurious air-conditioned police car. Blindly led from place to place I insist that I need no painkillers and would like to get back to the hostel. The physical pain only comes that night when my emotions cannot be controlled, but hostel workers and travelers are a comfort bringing me cream for my skinned back and various herbal remedies.
It is fascinating what your body will do in moments of physical confrontation. One body instigates a collision disrupting another body’s sense of being. Breathing is jarred out of a lullaby. Blood flow adjusts its speed as it runs through veins. All cells and bodily tasks are disturbed. As much as science is able to explain these happenings distilling them into step-by-step dry logic, it is nevertheless a magical story as one experiences it. A minor bodily confrontation is exhilarating. One set of muscles, veins and organs straining against another. Adrenaline pumping.