I did not go to Ariquipa. If I did, I would hope it was in comfort. Not that I am a wimp or anything, but leg space is important for me. Luckily, I am well and truly less than six feet tall so my definition of “comfort” is probably a lot less space than those behemoths that tower above me. My Dad, still on his great adventure in South America, travelled to Ariquipa in a truck. Now, when I think “South America” and “truck” I get a picture of something really old, probably in a fading sky blue, accented with rust and adorned with a little Christ on crucifix and maybe some brightly coloured beads. Crates filled with chickens, piles of straw, and a little sundried driver under a battered hat are a given. From all acounts that is not the truck my father journeyed in. His had a “passenger cabin”, perhaps like some kind of earth-bound Star Trek shuttle, and a view out the sides but not out the front, where the driver regularly contended with locals on suicide runs zooming through the mountain passes like a scene from some Hollywood movie, or extreme motorised luge. His truck had a name – Roseta – and a bulls head strapped to the front. Details are sketchy as to how much blood and gore accompany the head, but I like to imagine there is a lot, so it is difficult to determine if and when Roseta has been involved in a close scrape on a blind mountain bend at 4000 feet.
To get to Ariquipa you must contend with narrow mountain passes with high cliffs on one side of the road and sheer drops on the other. It comes as no surprise then that Ariquipa, in southern Peru, is also known as “the city where the volcanoes rest”. There’s three volcanoes, with distinctly un-South American names like Misti. Okay, the other two are called Pichu Pichu and Chachani, but Misti Mountain? In Peru? Come on, we’re not exploring Middle Earth here. Explorers and cartogrophers, it’s time to lift your game! The people that named the town Accident, Maryland; or Barf, England; Weed, California; Hell, Michigan; Butt Hole Lane, Conisbrough; Nowhere, Oklahoma; Big Cockup, England; Why, Arizona; Mt Buggery, Australia and ALL the rest – it is time to stand up so everyone can point, laugh and shake their head in disbelief at you. To be fare, I don’t think most names have been intentionally ridiculous. Who would have thought, when it was named, that there would be anything wrong with Wet Beaver Creek (Australia)? And of course, I have worked hard not to poke fun at all those foriegn names that are perfectly innocent in their native tongue but down-right rude in English. It just wouldn’t be right to laugh at Condom, France; Titz, Germany; or Likwang, China.