PassportPic What’s a Little Rain?
by G. Murray Thomas

I love train travel. In 1984 I got to ride what was then the highest elevation passenger train in the world, which runs from Lima, Peru up into the Andes. In five hours it zigzagged its way from sea level to a mountain pass at 15,000 feet, then down into a valley at the relatively sedate elevation of 10,000 feet. It passed through some of the most spectacular scenery I have ever seen, steep cliffs, tumbling waterfalls, the river rushing far below.

One dramatic scene was a long line of trucks standing idle, waiting…I was there in the middle of Peru’s rainy season. The only road into the mountains was washed out, and wouldn’t be repaired for months. And the trucks were just waiting for that.

That night it rained again. And the train’s tracks washed out.

I eventually found a bus company, which assured me they would get me to Lima. We spent all night wandering along narrow, snowy mountain roads in near pitch-black conditions. I had visions of “Peruvian Bus Plunge Kills 50,” and didn’t get much sleep.

At dawn the bus stopped, and they hustled us all off. Steep mountain cliffs surrounded us, and they began to walk us through a field of large boulders. They were walking us around the washed out portion of the road, along the rushing river, all in the half-light of a rising sun.

After two or three miles we emerged onto a usable road, and sat down to wait for another bus to come up from Lima and pick us up. Mission accomplished (sort of).

AUTHOR’S NOTE ON THE PHOTOGRAPH: This is my passport photo from this trip.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My trip to Peru in 1984 was at once the most exciting and rewarding and the most disaster-filled vacation I have ever taken. This is just one of the adventures I had.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: G. Murray Thomas has been an active part of the SoCal poetry scene for over 20 years. He currently edits a monthly listing of poetry events for Poetix.net, the source for information about SoCal poetry. He has published two books of poetry, My Kidney Just Arrived (Tebot Bach 2011) and Cows on the Freeway (iUniverse 1999). He is currently working on a collection of essays about his life as a music fan. Visit him at gmurraythomas.com.