Matt is a big sweaty guy. When he rides in a cramped bus, he likes to feel the air from an open window. The only problem is that Peruvians often insist that people close the windows while riding through the high cliffs of the countryside.

We found out that this is because of local superstition regarding the mountains, or apus. Each mountain has it’s own apu, or mountain spirit, each one sacred and each one considered to be a god. According to the locals, some mountains, or apus, are good and some are not. Regardless of their personality, no one wants to attract the spirit of the apu toward them. They are afraid that the spirit of the apu might take an interest in them and ‘want them.’

So, if riding in a hot, cramped bus and an old Quechua mamacita asks you to please close the window, just do it, out of respect for the mountains. It’ll get hot and stuffy on board, but it will keep the apus from wreaking havoc with the humans. And with the roads and bus conditions in this country, everybody needs every little bit of help that’s available.

So when we get on a bus, Matt usually tries to get on first, open as many windows as possible to let the bus air out before the journey begins. Then the windows slide closed one by one as the bus careens through the mountains. We sweat, smile and watch the gorgeous apus as we glide by, undercover and with respect for the gods who watch over this sacred land.