Bull storms across the road and smashes our Cruiser
This blogpost is dedicated to first and foremost our car, Sandwich, the bull that’s dead now, and potentially unlucky future overlanders in Peru.
So we drove at night in Peru to make the last stretch into a city we needed to go to. We couldn’t find safe camping where we were so we had to go for it. Bad planning, no discussion. At 40km/h we hit a beautiful 8 year old bull on it’s rear right leg. The bull crashed the front of our car, the side panels and the door. That’s material damage and not important. More important we were unharmed. We sat in the car for some seconds and tried to comprehend what just happened. Then we walked out and faced the farmers who were trying to pull their 800lb bull out of the ditch with nothing but their bare hands. I heard the bull trying to get to it’s feet, and I saw the leg we hit wobbling and making ‘Kellogg’s corn flakes crunchy sounds’. Nasty. Poor animal.
We contacted a nearby house which happened to be a hostel, and asked the owners if they would please call the police for us. They did and the police came. When the police arrived, more locals gathered in the rural community, and was crying when they say the bull in the ditch because they knew what a broken leg on a bull means.
Taylor and I was in an awkward situation. We speak very little, close to nothing, Spanish, but we got out our phones with Google translate and asked the hostel owners who seemed to be good people what was going to happen. Their answer was: “when the police come, they are going to take everything you have, so put everything of value in your pockets”….
That’s when we very quickly agreed that we would use our privelege of a wildcard; our embassies and consulates. The Canadian answered the phone and asked a chocked Taylor “what we wanted him to do”. The Danish didn’t answer the phone at all. Not on any of the five numbers we tried. Luckily there is a designated tourist police in Peru. Didn’t pickup either. Great.
We kept calling as many as possible, and we soon realised how many locals had gathered around the scene. We didn’t think too much about how the case would evolve from there of; The police would arrive, we would make statements, a towing truck would tow our truck to a garage, and we’d have to fill out some insurance forms. That’s how it works in Canada and Denmark. Not Peru.
After two hours of yelling, screaming and cries the police started looking through our papers. SOAT (insurance), driver’s license and whatmore. One police officer – a young and seemingly impatient one – wanted to hold my documents for a moment while I did something else. That’s going to be a big fat no-no. I said “NO”, took my papers and did my thing. I am not doubting one second that he had a very special skill of making stuff disappear.
After this, the police was agreeing, that with an entire angry rural community surrounding us, that it was probably best to take us to the police station along with the car. Awesome. That’s what we wanted. A straight forward procedure to follow (ordnung muss sein). In the last minutes before we left, the farmer and his friend tried to get 4000 Peruvian soles out of us (1300USD) and just leave it. We were stunned and was not sure if he meant paying that to us. Even in the last mentioned case we probably wouldn’t have done it. So we said “no” and went to the police station.
Going to the police station
We arrived at the police station, and waited there for ten minutes before talking to anyone. The chiefs were playing checkers. Anything else could wait.
In Peru it seemingly works like so, that if you have an incident with another guy (like this example), you can work it out between you or go to a judge and he’ll do it for you. Taylor and I had mixed feelings. We did just kill his bull. His bull did just run into our car. He is a poor farmer in a rural community. We have a big expense ahead of us for fixing the car. We don’t want to take all his money. We don’t want to pay for his cow smashing our car. It was his cows fault. He is responsible for his cow. Peru has a high corruption rate. Do we want a process here or a quick deal? We want to be nice and not take their money but they had no shame in seeing gringos and getting them for all they had.
At the police station we tried to talk to them and suggested we each walk away from this with no money. The farmer declined however. He wanted to play the lawyer game from there off. Fair enough. We played his game for the night being and kept a stiff upper lip. Not speaking Spanish we were really annoyed that no one gave a sh** how much our car cost, but kept asking the farmer how much his bull cost and how much he was out.
We were told at the police station to go and take an alcohol test. “no problemo – just point where you want my blood” was my thoughts. let’s get this done an prove that I’m no drunk (on that particular night). So they took us on an hour drive to Huaraz. With sirenes on and music louder than an F18 taking off, they drove us to the nurse. The nurse poured bright purple liquid into a dirty glass and made suggestions that I had to blow in the straw that was in it. It was very important I didnt suck air in, as the acid could kill me. Haven’t seen that procedure before. Test was negative. We drove back to the police.
The morning after we go into the police station again and start signing documents. The chief of police took us to the site of the incident, and we discovered there was a camera recording it all. They didn’t need the video though. At this time Taylor and I had made contact with a lot of people offering legal advice. The main point was; Peru is corrupt. Cases like this can be yearlong. Pay the fee and get out of there. So we accepted to pay 400 Peruvian Soles (150 USD). This sucked and felt good at the same time. It sucked because we felt we were being fooled. Paying some guy money because he didn’t have control over his bull and it ran on the road. WTF? Also it was a relief because we risked getting this case to a judge which could be a yearlong proces (so we’re told). Maybe the farmer knew that too, and as he wasn’t in a rush he’d might just play along, to put pressure on the gringos, until the very end and say okay to no money because he’d lose in front of a judge. Anyhow that is speculations, but we can’t help but wonder.
To do this agreement right, we had to go to a notario which is another office with very fancy stamps. They made a declaration that said, as soon as I had paid 400 Soles, the farmer would walk in the opposite directionm everyone would be happy and there would be no further problems. We had the paper made, and the woman who made the notario insisted on a picture next to tall Frederik which gave us 50% discount on the notario fee. Of course there is a fee. For starters the farmer insisted that I payed the entire fee. At that moment I had not slept for more than 3 hours the past two days and things had been very stressfull. I had to take a little chat with my innerself not to lose it and beat him up in this very office. We ended up sharing it 50/50.
While this was being done, Taylor had met the nice couple (hostelowners) who helped us the night before. They knew some mechanics who arrived at our cruiser and had some ideas on how to make the car well enough to get back on the road. Frederik was a little skeptic when told about this.
Having pulled the car somewhat back into shape with another Toyota, the mechanics actually made it posisble to drive it. This is how we made the first steps to move on to Huaraz, to make it on again to Lima. Hopefully we do not have to stay there for too long, and can continue our travels through Bolivia, Chile and Argentina towards worlds ends soon.
A bull is not just a bull in these rural communities. In Denmark or Canada where we’re from, insurance would take care of it all with no feelings involved. The farmers could not understand why we wanted money, because it was very apparent to them that when a life is lost, nothing else matters. I don’t know how important the bull was to the farmer, but several other people from the rural community came by and some started crying.
There’s a whole bunch of reasons to why you shouldn’t drive at night in central- and southamerica. Here’s some of them:
- Potholes in the road.
- Road washed away and down a cliff
- Speedbumps (they are unpainted and well camouflaged, even on highways)
- Loose cattle or sheep (the farmers walk along the big roads and drag their 800lb bulls in thin lines. A lot of farmers don’t even hold on to the rope, they just navigate them with a stick)
- People walking in the sides of the roads
- Crime. People will block the road or pull you over. In Peru we drove by men dressed in military uniforms who tried to get propinas (tips) for “security”. We said no and drove off.
- People driving without headlights
Unfortunately it is something to take very serious. Your car might be ready for the roads at night down here, but the roads are not ready for your car, unless this is your car.
Thank you network
An incident like this opened our eyes to how much support we have when shit hits the fan. Actually it was just a matter of picking who we wanted to help. You guys were standing in line for it. Thank you ever so much. We will do our best to be just as good if you ever get in trouble one day out there.
To everyone, tank you (get it?)