Abancay, Peru 17 Dec 05
Odometer 14,324 m 23,052 km

I got a late start from Nasca due to a village-wide power outage. Frequent photo stops, rough weather and a few close calls along the way slowed me down even further, but I pushed on to Abancay in the dark. When I finally did arrive, exhausted and hungry some nine hours later, the plug was pulled again.

I pulled over and stopped the engine. Picture it, downtown in an unknown city with the sound of voices all around you--pitch black. There were no streetlights, no lit signs from the shops, no emergency back-up generators. Nothing.
I rested my weary head in my hands while still seated on El Viento pondering the odds of two power failures on both ends of my day. Suddenly, from out of the darkness I heard a young voice inquire, “shoeshine, senor?” I couldn’t believe it. An enterprising muchacho was offering to shine the muddy boots of a guy on a bike in the sprinkling rain that he could only make out in vague silhouette. Now that’s salesmanship!

I explained that I was just waiting for the power to return so I could find a room and get some rest. He asked where I would stay, suggesting he could come back in the morning when it was light. I told him I didn’t know.

Not missing a beat, he proceeded to describe how to get to the best--and most expensive--hotel in town. When I protested, he said that he knew of another, just up the
avenida, that was much cheaper.

“Would you like me to go check it out,” he asked in Spanish?
“OK,” I replied, if only because I was growing tired of our faceless conversation.

Within a few minutes, I saw a light up ahead coming my way. It was a flashlight held by the hotelier being guided back by my anonymous amigo. His illumination was a welcome relief.

“Do you need a room,” the receptionist asked? We then negotiated a price and I followed his light as he and my new little friend led the way.

In the morning, just as he had promised, the kid was dutifully waiting in front of the hotel--shoeshine box in hand. It was Sunday, little was open, and I needed to check my email and get some breakfast, first.

“I know of an open Internet place,” he offered, “and I know of an open restaurant too.” He proved, like the night before, 100% correct.

As I looked over the menu he shined my road-weary boots for the very first time this trip. We talked about his family, his school, and when I might visit his town again someday. When I asked if he had had breakfast, he and his little buddy said no.

I ordered plenty to go around--the kid had the right stuff.

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