Is this the world’s most determined plant, freshly emerged from what should have been its dark and completely un-photosynthetic tomb? Sadly, no.
Despite appearances, this is not the plant kingdom’s equivalent of The Great Escape. What you see here is a completely sensible, 100% biodegradable road sign put in place by a concerned citizen. Along with a great big chunk of rock.
You see, this is sensible road management. Yes, you could rush to shut down the entire thoroughfare, spreading out cones and yellow tape to ward off accidents, forcing traffic to take a detour, choking the surrounding roads and making people irritable and late.
But why bother? There’s plenty of room to the right of the gaping hole. There’s sufficient space for a mototaxi to the left. If you end up in the hole — having somehow ignored the gently swaying plant and the ominous rock — then you have no right to be on the road in the first place.
The local authorities began repairing the road about 24 hours after I took the photo, at which point they did break out the yellow tape. Until that time, traffic slipped past the fissure quite happily. There were no broken bones or protests or, as far as I’m aware, irate telephone calls to the mayor. No one even tried the old “I slipped on your wet floor so give me one million dollars” trick. Admirable.
It’s a healthy attitude and one that warms my heart: “We’ll fix the road soon. Until that time, the road shall remain open. Please drive to either side of the big rock, the plant and the gaping hole. If you end up in the hole, you’re an idiot. We have faith in you.”
Despite that plant growing up from the pavement, roads in Tarapoto have come a long way. Ehen I was first there in 1974, there were practically no paved roads in the entire city. Whatever shortcomings exist today in Tarapoto´s roads, they are far far better now than in the past
Hi Vincent! Funny you should mention that. I just took a look at your “Tarapoto As I Remember It in the 1970s” article:
Your second photo in that article is the exact same street — almost the exact same spot — as my photo above (I was just a little further down the road). Same blue building on the corner (minus graffiti) with — as you said — unpaved roads above.
Thanks for another interesting and informative article, Tony! Regarding all the unpaved streets in the neighborhoods of Tarapoto, I was told that the residents in each block are responsible for the cost of paving the street in their block. If this is the case, then they will remain unpaved. There are some very deep ravines in some of those unpaved streets. I almost flew out of the mototaxi a few times as it hit them. It adds to the frontier feel of Tarapoto.
Thanks Raimundo! I’ve never heard anything about residents paying for paving, that’s interesting — I’ll ask my neighbours about that.
A stretch of road starting just one block from my place was paved about a month ago (after a very long construction process). Upon completion, about four blocks of the newly paved road were lined with bunting, little green and white flags (the colours of Tarapoto) strung above the street from side to side. The decorations are still there — they look like carnival decorations, but I guess it’s just a way of celebrating the paving.
The creation of new roads and bridges always seems to be a big deal in Peru — a mark of progress, and rightly so. I’ve seen bridges that span gaps of about three feet and the bridge still gets its own name and a little sign with measurements on it.
Wow! I didn´t realize that Tony. Tarapoto sure appears a lot different from when I was first there. Now, I prefer Lamas which,now, is a pretty good replication of the way Tarapoto was back in the day. I´m now enjoying my
three month visit to Peru. Not sure if i´ll make it back to Tarapoto. Still trying to decide that. Best regards
Let me know if you come this way — it would be great to finally meet you. I’m heading to Lima in maybe two weeks, but I’ll be here until then.
Likewise Tony, I should still be in Lima when your arrive here in a few weeks. If you´d care to meet me here, please send me an email. It would be cool seeing you in person. Best regards
I will be arriving in Tarapoto at the beginning of march. I will be traveling with my 13 yo son and a friend from cuzco. Can u plz advise of things to do and possibly where to stay? We will be there for 5 days. I am stymied as to what to do! Thanks!!!!!
Hi Magoo. Try clicking on the “Sights and Activities” menu near the top of the page. You’ll find a few things to do there. For more attractions all on one page, have a look at my article for About.com:
Hey Tony, Nice to read a littel about Tarapoto. I remember the ” hole” from my trip. Quite interesting how things go in Peru. Missing the warm climet. Still cold here in Newfoundland. Keep up the great writing , keep well and have a cold one for me. Hoping to return sometime next year and hope we can get together once again….keep well amigo.
Hi Tom. Let me know when you come back to Tarapoto — we’ll definitely go for a few beers or piscos…