In 2001 I had a magic time in Peru and Bolivia with my travel buddy Hamish. There were loads of highlights topped by the three day hike to Machu Picchu.
Our last night was in Lima, a city that we had already explored at the beginning of our three week trip. We just wanted to get home, exhausted from our walking exploits in altitude and missing our partners. We had an early flight the next morning and decided to spend just $20 on our central accommodation, not surprisingly a bit of a skanky dump.
What to do on our last night? Amazingly when I think about it now, we decided to go to the cinema to see not one but two films. An awful affair called Signs starring Mel Gibson and an excellent Austin Powers romp.
On leaving the latter at around 10pm, we decided on a quick fishburger and to then try and catch some sleep before our 6am departure.
On leaving the fast food joint and starting the ten minute yomp back to our hovel, I somehow managed to collide with a local guy who was carrying a carrier bag.
I suddenly felt a wet sensation travel up and down my leg quickly followed by a foul smell, a mix between sickly durian fruit, white wine vinegar, cheesy feet and stale sweat, which now pervaded my revered walking trousers.
The three Peruvian guys stopped in their tracks and started a commotion.Whether they wanted to lambast me for causing the spillage or apologise for the mess, I did not stop to ask questions and carried on at purposeful speed away from the shrieking vagabonds with Hamish in hot pursuit.
I was too well travelled to fall for that scam. ‘Cause a scene and offer to clean you up, but at the same time clean you out’.
My mate Iain ‘Ruby’ Currie had once told me of a similar ruse involving dog poo on his shoe whilst he was in Rio, and luckily I instantly remembered his words and made the connection, at least subconsciously.
Something anyway had told me to carry on quickly marching and that is what I did.
Hamish was not quite sure what had happened so I explained the equation whilst he held his nose. Whatever the vile concoction was that had spilled over me, it really did stink to high heaven. People grimaced as they passed and with very good reason.
Luckily we were close to our hotel and equally luckily this was the end of our trip, as I feared it would take multiple hot washes and pints of detergent to negate the odour.
We skipped quickly past the dozing night receptionist, who awoke in an instant as the mobile smelling salts flitted by.
I filled the bath with hot water and poured five travel bottles of shampoo and shower gel in before tossing the tainted trousers into the bubbling cauldron.
I remembered that for some reason there was a discarded chair leg in the wardrobe and used this to stir the strides vigorously in the makeshift washing machine.
I then sprayed the room with deodorant and shut the bathroom door, leaving the putrid pants to soak before putting on my spare trousers and going to sleep lying on top of the less than inviting looking bed.
Next morning, I rinsed the trousers and placed them in a carrier bag – remarkably they smelt lovely. Far better indeed than my plastic bag full of socks and boxers did anyway!