Cuzco, Peru

March, 1990

On March 28, Brenda and Sherry left the group and flew to Cuzco at 12,000 ft up in the Andes so they could stage for a trip to Machu Picchu. They had offered to pay the expenses of a local girl, Brenda Andrade, to accompany them and be their interpreter. Leaving from Lima at sea level for an hour flight to Cuzco made them vulnerable to altitude sickness, as Brenda found out the hard way. She walked about a mile and a half soon after she got there, and then spent about 20 hours very sick. A lady at the hotel made coca tea for her and after several hours she was finally able to keep something down.

This was an informal market on the grounds of a church up on a hill near Cuzco. The ladies just had their wares out on blankets. Brenda bought a small sugar bowl and little clay musical instruments made of clay. There were also markets crowding the street.

They got up early and set out about 6 AM to see a bit of the town and film the nearly deserted street where all the market had been the previous afternoon. That turned out to be a bad plan, because on the street some young men ran up behind them and knocked them all down, stealing Sherry's video camera and purse and Brenda Andrade's purse. They knocked Brenda down, but she was carrying her things in a small fanny pack which they didn't get. Brenda and Sherry had their papers in shoulder bags under their clothing, but Brenda Andrade had hers in her purse. She screamed after them to give her her papers, and they dropped them so she could recover them. They reported the theft to the police, but they didn't seem greatly concerned, and nothing discernable was done - as they found out later from talking with other travelers, it is a very common occurrence.

Brenda got these photos on the street in Cuzco. Many things, including babies, were carried in the colorful shawls or blankets. Brenda and the group were at the spot where you caught the train, preparing for their trip to Machu Picchu. The general location of these photos is shown below.

There was lots of activity along the rail line, including some market activity. From the casual way they used the tracks, you'd guess that trains don't come through here very fast.

There is no terminal or train station, but this was the place where the train stopped, so everyone was there waiting. When they got on the train, they found it to be completely packed. People standing in the aisles could not fall because they were packed in. People had live chickens on the train, and no telling what else. There were food vendors on the train, but it was so crowded that other passengers would just pass the food along to whoever it belonged to.

There were some ancient looking stone structures with thatched roofs. This was taken from the train on the way up to Machu Picchu.

The distance from Cuzco to the Machu Picchu area is about 75 miles and the train ride took between 3 and 4 hours. It was slow and stopped often, being a local train. On the steeper slopes, the rail line was constructed with zig-zags where the train pulled forward up the zig, then backed up the zag and repeated this to get up the slope. Past Ollantaytambo there is no road, only the rail line into the mountains. So about the last 30 miles into Aguas Caliente are along the river on the only access route other than a foot trail.

When they got off the train, they had to walk up the mountain a short distance to the hotel where they spent the night. In the afternoon after they checked into the hotel, they walked further up the mountain to the hot springs "Aquas Caliente".

to Machu Picchu

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