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A warm heart

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Friday 3th of August - Huanuco


Two days after the bicycle mechanic in Huanuco tells us that we will not find 28 inches, we are literally sitting with our hands in our hair. We have visited every bike store and there is indeed nothing available for our bicycles It is not the mentality of our Warmshower, we can stay as long as we want, have our own Peruvian bedroom and the whole family has been called for help. But, it seems that Peru can not bring us a new rim. At the end of the second day, we finally can smile again. We suddenly have a bike shop from Lima on the line, about twelve hours towards the coast, which has the right size rim for us. If we transfer the money it will be sent, says the man. Our happiness came a little too early. "To Huanuco? No, that will not go’ is his answer when we ask if they want to put the rim on the bus tomorrow. Packages in Peru are sent with bus companies that travel between cities. 'We work with one company and that does not go to Huanuco. 'Find someone who can come and collect the package’ are simple words. That is easier said than done in a metropolis and a country where you barely know anyone.


We are just planning to go back and forth by bus, a ride from Amsterdam to southern Spain and back, if our rescue comes. Ellen, the mother of Zoë, met a Peruvian in the airplane on the way to Cusco and exchanged contacts. Pedro doesn't know us but has already welcomed us in his house on the coast. We call his number, a bit ashamed, but it doesn’t botter him at all. 'Where is that store, I’m going right now' is his answer. We call the store to let them know that someone is on the way. If the answer comes from the shopkeeper, we almost explode. The man says 'Oh, but we do not have that rim at all'. Discussion makes no sense. We have been screwed, plainly bugged. Admittedly not yet in money, but in time. Fortunately, we can once again recall the fact that every disadvantage has its advantage. We wouldn’t have contacted Pedro without this store. Our new friend has a big heart. He goes to other bike shops in Lima for us. That same day, he finds our size rim and sends it. 'So, now you can come and visit my house on the coast by bicycle'.

Thanks to Pedro, we are back on the bike after only five days. We start directly on a dirt road with a considerable slope. This ensures that we are gain altitude quickly, but also that we get tired quickly. Even the gutter is a great recovery spot during lunch. Fortunately, we are well encouraged by our spectators. A forty kilometers further, we cycled almost six hours and the day is already over. The slope is so steep that there is no room for the tent. We cycle to a mini village and ask at the hospital if they can help us. The doctor knows a lady who can help us. We are not actually looking for a paid room, but there seems to be nothing else. We knock on the door and a almost deaf eighty-two year old lady looks at us. "I do not have a place here, but you do fit into the teacher's room," she says. She rents a room that was once a stable, to a teacher. "


It is quite odd to knock on the door and say ’the lady says we can sleep here'. Teacher Esmil spreads his arms and says "the house is small but my heart is big, come in!" Smiling and overwhelmed, we roll the bikes into the small room. The bikes fit in exactly and if we arrange everything neatly we can indeed roll out our mattresses on the dirt floor. On the other side of the bikes there is a simple bed with only 2 thin blankets. The man has a big heart indeed. He tells about his life. He likes playing football with the kids, he's cold up here in the mountains and playing football heats up. His home is three hours away and he lives here during the week. There is no running water, kitchen or cupboard and the toilet is outside, on the street. The man does not complain for a moment. Enjoying this special moment we share our cake and exchange stories about the other side of the world. Esmil closes the door with a stick and with all his clothes he crawls under the thin blankets. 'Good night' he says shivering.


When Esmil is already in school, Zoë is suddenly hopping around strangely. "Do you have to go to the toilet?" Olivier says with a grin, not knowing that this is going to be one of the most unusual toilet visits ever. Zoë apologizes to the lady. After a visit to the toilet, where she first had to chase a chicken from the pot, she sat down on the floor with the lady in the kitchen. The kitchen is as simple as the bedroom of Esmil. There are three pots hanging on the wall, some buckets are on the ground, there is a table and a self-made wood fire. Not to overlook are the twenty small and large guinea pigs walking around on the dirt floor. Of course Zoë knows their final destination, but it is a nice beginning of a long conversation. A conversation about her simple life, which she was so familiar with. She can not read because when she came here there were no schools in the mountains yet. As a young girl she already walked with the cattle through the fields. She had children but they are all so modern. "I do not know anything about what they do." She grabs Zoë and her eyes are full. 'I am so grateful that you visit me'. She asks when we return, not understanding that this will not happen. Still with her hands around Zoë's arms she starts to sing a beautiful, calm song for her. It's about God, he will show us the way in our camino. Zoë has also been moved by the moment. “It didn't work?" Olivier asks as Zoë returns a forty-five minutes later. She tells the story. 'The worst is' says Zoë, 'that I have forgotten her name.'


We continue the route and are soaked with rain. We have a pathetic lunch under the raincapes and at the end of the day we opt for a small hostel. We are not looking forward to cook outside in the rain. We choose a hotel, which is always very basic in the mountains, and the man shows us the way to the garage to store the bikes. It is an old shop, but it does not seem to be in use for a while. Zoë asks whether we might also "sleep on the floor here". The man looks at us, incomprehensibly, but it's no problem at all. Who is sleeping on the floor? He is interested in how we inflate the mats and roll out the sleeping bags. He squeezes the mats once and looks at us worried. "And you pillow?" "We use our jacket as a pillow" we explain to him. Later he brings us a pillow, some sandwiches and a cup of tea. No, here one does not sit on his pennies, a good heart comes first.

We come closer and closer to the Cordillera Blanca, the 'white mountain range'. The pictures become more beautiful and our hearts are stolen. Even by the police, who offer us a place at their police station. "Why?" We wonder. The police, who is knows as a strict, are also people with a big heart.


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