From Moyobamba, my sights were intent on getting to Yurimaguas to meet with Nathan and organize my Amazon adventure. This involved getting a combi from Moyobamba to Tarapoto then another from Tarapoto to Yurimaguas and then a boat onto Lagunas.
The first half of the trip was smooth. We arrived swiftly and the view out the combi windows were breathtaking. The roads here are all well maintained (unlike my previous trip in Peru’s more southern areas).
Then about 2/3’rds of the way to our destination, it happened. I’ve always known that the Tuk Tuks are at risk, but today my driver hit one. We were weaving and swerving between traffic like always…horn blowing to warn others that our combi was coming around. A car parked on the side of the road….a tuk tuk driver that didn’t realize the risk of swerving around the parked car and a combi going way to fast to avoid the inevitable collision. I wanted to close my eyes. I wanted to take the wheel. Instead, I braced myself with hands against the dash as we hit the back corner of the tuk tuk.
Immediately, the tuk tuk began to spin, and then it bucked like a wild horse, throwing the driver from the bike onto the pavement as the tuk tuk rolled like an easter egg several times before coming to a stop in the ditch just ahead. I lost sight of the driver until we came to a stop…suddenly fearing that we had ran over him. Just as the thought crossed my mind, I saw people running to the road just behind us where the tuk tuk driver had landed.
The driver stood with the help of the others as I let out the breath that I didn’t know I was holding. Suddenly my mind was flooded with questions. Should I tell them I’m a nurse? Should I go check on him? What can I do? I can’t speak the language well enough. Even if I could, I don’t know what I could do.
Fortunately, the tuk tuk driver didn’t look to be in too bad of shape. He stood with minimal assistance. There was a small gash above his left eye that was bleeding mildly and a scrape on his right elbow. He was walking, and talking and there didn’t seem to be anything broken.
More and more people began to arrive from the surrounding homes. Conversations ensued between my driver and the community. We eventually loaded the injured into our combi and drove him to a clinic about 10 minutes away where he then refused any treatment. An hour of conversations or as one of the fellow passengers told me ‘negotiations’, and we loaded back up and were on our way to our destination.
The questions still remain in my mind. Should I have done something? Have you ever been in a foreign country and witnessed an accident? Would you stop and help?