In the summer of 1995, my daughter Tina and I visited the northern rim of the Colca Canyon, in Peru, at 3200-m depth easily one of the deepest in the world. Our party consisted of a colleague, a guide, a driver, and us. We rented a van and headed for the canyon, deep in the Andes, several hours by road from Arequipa.

On the trip back, a school teacher hitched a ride with us. As we approached the next town, she stepped out of the van and told us she would return momentarily. After waiting for the teacher for a reasonable time, we decided to continue our trip without her.

A few hours later, as we reached the town of Aplao, we were detained by the police for questioning. The teacher had called to complain that we had "stolen" her bag. We explained to the chief of police that she had hitched a ride with us, had stepped out momentarily in the next town, and had not returned in a timely fashion, giving us no choice but to leave her behind. We knew nothing about a bag. The police were convinced, and we were allowed to resume our trip.

Upon reaching Arequipa, as we cleared the van, to our great surprise we found the teacher's bag tucked away under one of the seats.


Entrance to the Colca Canyon, in Arequipa, Peru.

Entrance to the Colca Canyon, in Arequipa, Peru.