“Where are you girls going?” a woman asked.
The bus was packed and rattling along in the velvet darkness of the Sacred Valley.
“Chinchero,” Isabel replied confidently.
There was a loud cry and the bus lurched to a halt.
“We’ve just passed it,” the woman said, looking worried.
“You’re the only people going there. The rest of us are returning to Cusco.”
Seconds later we were dumped without ceremony beside the road, our outlines softened by the sparse lights of the village behind us.
There were no hostels listed in the guide book for Chincero – we’d chosen it on a whim, following the advice of three Peruvian women the previous day.
Except we’d arrived a little late.
“If we can’t find a hostel, we can always ask a local person if we can rent a room in their house,” Isabel said, shining her torch on the rough gravel track.
“And if we can’t find anyone, maybe another bus will pass through on its way to Cusco,” I agreed hopefully, squeezing her arm.
“I’m just glad we’re together.”
We were suddenly illuminated by a bicycle headlight. The rider wobbled in surprise but recovered enough to direct us to the village’s only guesthouse.
We crept along in the suffocating silence until we found it.
“And where are you from?” the owner asked, peering at us with wizened eyes.
“I’m from Medellin, Colombia and my friend here lives in Bogotá,” Isabel smiled.
“Bogotá?” he coughed in surprise, “Bogotá?”
“I once sold some crafts from this village at a fair in Bogotá. It took me 10 days to get home on the bus, through the jungle, but I loved it.
“I can’t believe you’ve come from Bogotá! Can I get you girls some tea?”