A year has passed in which we have documented and shared nearly every minute. There were however eight hours we missed from the road between Huanchaco and Trujillo Peru on 27-28th November 2014. This story begins at approximately 8pm in Huanchaco, Peru.
There were signs. We tell ourselves through a fleeting veil of shared guilt that maybe we could have known, should have known. Why fleeting, the veil of guilt: No emotional space left in the mined out husk of our awareness, or just that the signs were too faint? In the rear vision mirror of this journey time continues to grant reprieve from guilt, the latter emerges as far the more valid buoy to cling to in this tempest.
Those hours trapped,
In the minute rampant.
On stones scattered reckless,
Minutes build those bowers mighty.
I have always liked these words, they remind me of those critical moments in our lives. Small ‘reckless’ decisions are made every day with no great thought, many to pitter out before they tattoo anything of permanence. There are those moments though, the ‘minutes rampant’ that don’t dwindle to nothing but permeate the hours, days and weeks that follow, burning like wildfire, shouting so much louder than the time that follows, those hours trapped. On these minutes rampant we stand the bowers of our lives, hoping that we want to foster more of them than we want to extinguish? We all scatter those stones recklessly, never knowing which ones will trap eternities of time beyond their modest inception, but we scatter daily, the dry tinder ever ready to burst to conflagration.
We’re about to possibly have one of those moments.
The history books will tell that we were, indeed are on the journey of a lifetime, with dreams of mountains, wild escapes and atheist spirituality in the face of natures grace. In a taxi plodding to our bus station a tad too slowly we’re also filling our lives with the undeserving importance of bus timetables. Both of these ideals are about to be stripped of all relevance.
As our taxi drifts a touch off the road we see some pedestrians dead in front. Hoping to all hell that he doesn’t run anyone over our concern turns to a sickening realisation as the three pedestrians instantly become assailants. In the manner of a few seconds we are two trapped in between four, just realising that this situation is what we fear it might be. The melee ensues as we realise quickly that we are in South America and we’re in the midst of a true travel nightmare, a minute rampant that one way or another, will be part of our lives forever.
In the tight confines of the taxi we struggle to fight our way out hopelessly outnumbered, and we nearly succeed. With my body partially over Charlie, gripping the edges of the door for dear life and kicking with all that my legs have I feel sharp pains in my head, shoulder and back. I attempt to block and see that the blows are a tyre leaver, that hexagonal snake raining thankfully restricted strikes to my skull. All the worst visions crowd me, we’re both screaming, refusing to realise that this is the end, we will not give up. I see nothing but a dark future before us both, In this moment of panic I realise I’m very likely going to die tonight, either from a tyre iron caving in my skull or in a more drawn out scene. A rare gift is decision in the manner of ones death, brave is he who makes a choice
Choice or not, the door slams continually on my hands and under the weight of numbers and the presentation of a gun we are contained. The taxi takes off under the hail of Charlie’s abuse to the taxi driver that has driven us to this end. Cheap upholstery mixed with a musty smell surround us as we drive for a short while having our clothes pulled over our faces and eyes gouged at to prevent us seeing. Through the haze of instinctive frenzy and dirty fingers prodding our faces the word ‘dinero’ calls through the din; money, they want money. I struggle to gather this rationalisation, money? This brutality is beyond a mugging, a grab for cash, the question posed is more about life and existence than about money, can this violence really be all about money?
I cannot give up, we cannot give up. If it’s going to end I’ll do it my way. I wrest free and pop the lock and get the door ajar, I’ll jump to the road before they get me. But I won’t. Charlie is there and more powerful than the fear of dying is that of being apart. It’s a fleeting rebellion, the nightmare continues clouded in a reluctant submission, this minute is already burning rampant, the following hours or however long there is will be ablaze with the scents of this, the stink of this. The hour is indeed trapped, nothing beyond the sparking instant from the initial attack can be pulled apart, it’s all one moment, rampant.
I can hear Charlie, I need to hear Charlie, he’s right beside me, our hips touching but he’s nearly as far from me as in those lonely years before we found each other; nearly. Charlie has beaten me out of the thick soup that is the fight or flight instinct, he’s urging my calm. I grab these words, I drink them up, he’s ok enough to think, it’s on the buoyancy of these words I permit myself to release the fatalistic choice and begin to float above the grip of panic. For the first time I process rather than react, if it’s about money, we can play that song.
Through numerous turns we are lost, we just don’t know if it’s only geographically that we are lost. The taxi stops and we’re forced out, still with our heads covered. It’s one thing to attempt to think clearly, it’s another to carry that concept in parallel to a belief that you are about to die. With any action we take affecting two instead of just one we are marched into the confines of four standing walls, a house that never was. No doors or roof adorn this box of white painted brick fencing a dirt floor. This may have started with the intention of being a house, a home: sadly a prison dripping in terror is all it’s amounted to. to this point the threat of the gun had been my own, Charlie was unaware. In the exiting of the taxi, we are now truly appreciating the same severity.
We find ourselves facing a white washed brick wall in advanced disrepair and forced to our knees, is this the moment? Aggressively we have our heads forced down and in the relative clarity we now cling to a fleeting hope that tugs at our sleeves, somewhere distant, barely perceptible. We stare at the wall waiting for the worst; I don’t see blood anywhere. Are they really going to murder us if they are hiding their identity? After all, dead people don’t talk. Realisation or not, fear this gripping has no space for tears. Past the instructions for quiet I insist on my final words. Charlie beside me, three is all I need: “I love you”.
Part 2/4 published at 12:00pm (AEST)