I was electrocuted by a shower in Peru.
Like full-on entire-body-shaking from the electrical current coursing through my veins, electrocuted. It started at my head and worked its way down to the ends of my toes.
Here’s the little backstory of how I got to this less-than-pleasant “cultural experience.” My wife and I had just started our travel journey, we had just spent three weeks traveling through Costa Rica and our next stop was Peru to visit Machu Picchu, a bucket list item for both of us. The thing about traveling to the sacred valley is that it’s a journey in itself just to get there.
We’re talkin’ two flights, a two-hour car ride, hour long train, another train, and lastly, a three-hour hike up into the mountains to view the sacred Incan city. Each train requires a separate ticket that must be purchased from a next to impossible to find ticket office.
Since this process can be quite painful, the trains fill up quickly, and Machu Picchu only allows a certain amount of visitor permits per day, most people opt for a package deal through a travel agency six-to-nine months in advance. But where's the fun in that?!
Not team #Stan, we bought our plane tickets to Lima 24 hours prior to our flight. After a short flight, there we were, in the hotel lobby of the hotel that we booked on our smartphone waiting for our luggage. We were trying to get the Wi-Fi code so we could book the next flight to Cusco.
While we were in the lobby trying to stay patient and smile, even though the internet was moving at a paint-drying pace and we hadn’t eaten all day, the doorman of the hotel approached me. In broken English he asked if I was going to Machu Picchu to which replied, “yes, I’m trying to book a plane ticket to Cusco right now.” He then asked where we are staying and I, still looking down at my phone trying to find a flight out of here, explained to him that we didn’t have any plans yet.
“You don’t have any place to stay or tickets or anything?!” he said in disbelief.
“NOPE, just going with the flow on this one good buddy do you have a recommendation?” I ask.
“Yes, my family has a beautiful place in a small town on the way, they can show you Peruvian culture and help you get all your tickets.”
How’s that for fate. Little did we know how important it would be to have a guiding light along the way.
But at this point, to be completely honest, I was a little agitated. Not because of him, but, because I hadn’t eaten all day. I was starting to get hangry (hungry and angry combined) so I gave up on the plane tickets and told my new friend that I will come find him when I book our flight. The hotel restaurant ended up having awesome internet and we booked a flight departing at 5 AM the next day, which meant if we went to bed at that moment we could squeeze in about four hours of sleep before we had to leave for the airport.
Just as we passed out with full bellies, we heard a loud knock on the door and guess who it is? Yup, my best buddy from the lobby. “Did you get a plane ticket for tomorrow and what time do you land?”
“We land at 730 AM,” I muttered half asleep.
“Oh wow that’s early you must leave for the airport in 2 hours!”
That was correct, the plan was to get some sleep! He wished us a safe journey and I zombie-crawled back to bed and forgot the encounter ever happened.
Fast forward twelve hours, we touched down in Cusco, Peru. After we made our way through the gauntlet of taxi cab drivers fighting over our luggage, we found a quiet little spot in the smoking section to think about our next move before we jumped in a random cab. You know, because we had no idea where we were going or a place to sleep lined up.
And that’s when we spotted the sign. A big cardboard sign that read, “DANIEL FLEMING.” My wife excitedly said, “hey, look over there?! That’s your name!”
I gave her a wink like psssh.. you know how we roll, even though I had no idea how this happened or who this man was! We introduced ourselves to Lalo, who spoke about six words total in English, and we found out he was sent from his friend in Lima.
It was then I remembered the 2 AM wake-up call. We didn’t really ask too many questions, he knew we wanted to go to Machu Picchu and he seemed legit. C’mon now, he had a sign with my name on it so we jumped in the car!
He took us to a small village called Pisac, about a two-hour train ride from Machu Picchu. When I say small, I mean the town had no stores, no restaurants, no nothing. A bottle of Coke was a big score for me, forget about Wi-Fi!
We arrived at a nice, brand-new building that was still partially under construction. We were introduced to the sweetest (and smallest) Grandma and Grandpa we’ve ever met, who also didn’t speak a lick of English. The plan was to stay for two nights and do our best to embrace the situation. They cooked us boiled chicken and rice and potatoes (twice a day) and kept us fully hydrated with coca leaf tea, the Peruvian cure for altitude sickness. We tried our best to communicate, but the only real communication we both could provide was with smiles and appreciation.
Our “Peruvian grandparents” had the first floor as their living quarters including shared living room, dining room, and kitchen. We had the whole upstairs to ourselves which consisted of four separate bedrooms, two individual and private bathrooms, and a small living room. It was simple, clean, and peaceful. Exactly what we needed to recharge our batteries and gear up for Machu Picchu.
So here I am in the shower, the first shower I've taken in days, looking at the “hot water heater” box on the wall trying to figure out how to turn it on. I located a light switch on the wall next to it, flipped it, and a green light went on. The water started to warm up and all was well in showerland. Pretty hi-tech right? Not exactly. It's pretty much a toaster oven and a weird rubber hose coming out of the shower head which just kind of hangs there. Why? Because it removes the electrical current from the water before it hits my head.
As I’m standing under the shower with a head full of shampoo, “POP” goes the rubber hose connected to the side of the shower and buzzzzzzzz buzzzzzzzzz I am now being electrocuted! With soap in my eyes… fun, fun, fun!
Somehow I managed to jump backwards out of the water. Or maybe I was violently shaken out of the way. Either way, as I caught my bearings, I was thinking what the f*** just happened! I was pretty sure what was happening but I was still dumb enough to stick my hand under the water for round two.
YEP definitely the shower. I’m not a big fan of cold showers (unless its really hot outside) so I opted to leave the shower alone for the duration of our stay and that’s my story of being electrocuted by a shower in Peru. However, when I tried to explain the whole shower mishap to our pseudo-Grandparents, so it wouldn't happen to their future guests, it didn't go as planned. Even my electricution play-back full of facial expressions and a trip to revisit the shower, wasn't working. Let's just hope they don't electrocute their next guests!
In the end, we got tickets for Machu Picchu the day we arrived and it was one of the most incredible things we’ve ever seen. You should check it out when you get a chance!
Holding her palm out in my direction and squeezing what looked to be her grandchild tightly to her hip, it was then I realized the picture I just snapped had a price tag on it.
The Peruvian culture cannot be misinterpreted – the posture of the elderly is hunch-backed and tough – created from hard labor. The garb, oh so colorful and detailed, full of life and stories. Climbing the uneven roads of the sacred valleys, we felt lightheaded and discouraged. After all, we were surrounded by warriors whose strength was much greater than ours.
I placed a few small coins into the women’s hand and she pleasantly grinned and went about her business.
It wasn’t about the money; it was more about preserving their culture. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to share the picture; she wanted to make it known that it wasn’t polite to take pictures without a small exchange.
There is something unique and silent about the Peruvian culture yet it shines through the twinkle in their eyes. The questions of how the sacred valley was established, maintained and preserved for so long was answered by none other than the people of the culture.
We learned many amazing things, but most importantLY, we learned the Peruvian culture is tough enough to stand the end of times.
Just like our visit to Machu Picchu - and all the questions that come to our minds when we see the masterpiece in photo or in person, you can’t help but think, “how did they create such an epic place.
Thank you Peru, for teaching us to stay strong and to preserve the beauty of your culture.
Peru is located in South America. Machu Picchu, an ancient Incan city located in the Andes mountains. The area surrounding Machu Picchu is also considered part of the…