The South American Adventure - Day 5!!

Day 5 - Trains and Automobiles (no planes)

All day yesterday and all day today, I have been trying to figure out how to accurately convey how beautiful the scenery is here.  Or to explain how crisp and clean the air is high above the world.  But no words can do this place justice (especially since I didn't bring a thesaurus).  No pictures can capture the breathtaking beauty that we are seeing in Peru.

There was a line in Episode 2 of Pushing Daisies..."When he remembered this moment, her eyes were a shade too blue and the sweater a shade too red.".   That's how I feel about the Cusco Region.  The blue sky is so glorious that in order to remember it, you have to think of the bluest thing you've ever seen, then know it is really one shade bluer.  The air is so fresh that when you breathe in, you know you're breathing in the same air that the Incan's breathed so many years ago.  

The region isn't all like this.  Avenue del Sol in Cusco is a diesel death trap.  As I'm sitting in a cafe in Ollantaytambo, waiting for our train, the busses and tuk-tuk drivers are emitting noises and gasses that make you pause and reach for an inhaler, but these areas aren't the norm.  Or maybe they actually are, and we are finding the serenity locations because we need to find them.  We need to remember these moments when we're struggling to keep it together at work or in life. 

We checked out of the Torre Dorada this morning.  Our luggage is still there.  Today, we head to Aguas Callientes for our pre-Machu Picchu night.  We will be back at the Torre Dorada tomorrow night.  So after packing overnight bags (freaking HEAVY overnight bags), we met our driver who drove us to Ollantaytambo.

The driver wasn't as great as Germand yesterday, but he stopped to show us some of the sights on the almost two hour drive.  This drive was fascinating, as it showed us how the people loved outside of the cities.  And man...there is some serious poverty in the country.  I don't know if they would be considered shanty towns or slums or if this is just life.  I'm guessing it's just life.  It made me very grateful for what I have and what I'm able to witness.

We saw tons of animals along the drive.  I still can't get over the dogs that run free.  It breaks my heart every time I see one.  And we've seen lots.  So my heart is breaking often.  This drive, though, we kept seeing Donkeys.  Donkeys!!  Now, when I see donkeys at home, I have to point and shout (in a very high-pitched voice), "Donkey!!". I did not do this for two reasons.  #1 - our driver did not speak English and I didn't want to scare him.  #2 - we saw a ton of donkeys.  My throat would have been raw by the end.  But I did say it every time in my head.  So there.

We arrived in Ollantaytambo before noon.  Our train was at 7p.  Here's the tip...you don't need 7 hours in Olly.  You barely need one hour.  And if you're carting around the equivalent of a small toddler in a duffle bag, 7 hours is not great.  But hey, we didn't know any better this morning.  Lesson learned.  We did get to see some beautiful scenery and plenty of Incan ruins on the mountainside.  It makes you ponder how they were able to build everything.  Amazing.

We did learn here about the bulls on the roofs of the houses/buildings.  There are two bulls (toros)  on the roof to bring good luck to the owners.  Adele and I picked up toros for ourselves.  It doesn't hurt to get luck from any culture!!

Our train left at 7p for Aguas Callientes and we were ready to climb aboard.  Our seats were located and a few minutes before we left the station, a woman asked if we wanted to change from a four-seater to a two-seater.  The chance to not mingle with others??  Sign me up!!

The train ride was dark and uneventful.  When we made it into Aguas Callientes, someone from the hotel was there to greet us.  And we walked the two blocks to the hotel.  La Pequina Casita.  The place is...fine.  We are here for one night.  The room is larger than at Torre Dorada (or at least the beds are).  But it just doesn't seem as homey.  Again...one night.  We ordered our boxed lunch for tomorrow and we left to find dinner.

Unfortunately, La Pequina did not have WiFi.  So we had been without for...a good 12 hours.  At this point, I won't deny, we were a little shaky from not being plugged in.  I am aware this is usually the sign of an addiction, but the story gets better.  As we walked up the main drag in Aguas Callientes, we went looking for food.  The place we chose was not based solely on their free WiFi, but it made the decision easier.  When we sat down and pulled out our phones, they turned on the WiFi and we turned into rabid dogs with a bone.  It was a frenzy of email and Facebook checking the likes of which I've never seen.  Think of the Velociraptor scene in Jurassic Park.  The one where they lowered a cow or sheep into the pen.  The Raptors devoured the animal quicker than you could say Velociraptor.  That was us with the WiFi.  It should have been embarrassing, but it wasn't...totally...

We ended up at a cute little place and we ordered pizzas.  Apparently, Aguas Callientes has an abundance of pizza joints, so when in Rome...

What we didn't think of at the time was our internal...workings.  We haven't been exposed to the grease and cheese of a pizza in the last (almost) week.  And the day before A Big Deal on vacation (I think Machu Picchu counts as ABD), it probably isn't the best thing to introduce a potentially problem food into your intestinal tract.  We both packed the Imodium in our bags for tomorrow.  Holy lord, I hope we don't need them.

Late night tonight.  And our wake up call is at 345a.  We are going to be lined up for the bus at 5a.  These early mornings are not cool... 

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