I landed in Cusco having slept the entire flight from Lima. I walked out of the terminal dodging tour guides wanting to sell me adventure packages. I was sure not to walk too quickly because I was now at 10,000ft coming from sea level and didn’t know how the altitude would affect me.
As I walked out to find a taxi I heard several men leaning over a guard rail about 20meters ahead
“MEESS. Señorita! Taxi!”
Apparently the taxi drivers aren’t allowed in the airport and there’s some policy that they have to stand behind this Guard rail. But they certainly wave and jump and holler at you.
I walked over to the exit and a taxi driver approached me “meess, you want taxi to city center?”
I asked how much it would cost to go to the train station. He told me 50 soles so I nodded and followed.
We drove up and up and up through Cusco to another town called Poroy, where the train station is. At one point we were stopped in chaotic traffic and people zigzagged through the cars stuck in traffic to cross the street. It’s like frogger but worse. Lots of ladies wear flat rim black hats with pony-tails underneath, skirts and colorful tops with children or goods strapped to their backs and fronts. They are SO beautiful and strong! These people walk and work, I don’t think they use treadmills here.
We arrived at the train station and my taxi driver, Wekhenvhawer, asked if I needed a ride back to Cusco from the train station tomorrow when I returned. Hm. That would be a good idea considering how far out of town the train station is and that I arrive back after dark. “Yes, please!”
He wrote my name down in his book, “Sali,” with my train number and the time of my arrival.
I went inside and Ordered a café com leche and empanada de lomo saltado (Peruvian steak empanada). The total came to 24 soles about $7.50 but the attendant didn’t have change and I had given her a big bill. I asked how much the banana bread was and she said 6 soles. So I had to buy the banana bread. You see.
We boarded the train. Lots of people from all over the world. One lady sat looking miserable as her husband rubbed her back. She had food poisoning. Poor thing! I know I’ve been there.
The train ride was 52 miles and took about 3.5 hours. The sights are breathtaking and they even serve you a snack. Every so often a recording comes on the loud speaker, first in Spanish and then in English, telling you a fact about the place we were passing then, things to look out for, etc.
I struck up a conversation with the British man sitting next to me. He travels quite frequently to Latin America. I asked him what he had done for his career and he told me he had retired from being an investment analyst, “like your Wall Street blokes.” We talked quite a bit, British politics, travel in Latin America, etc. Very interesting fellow.
I started to get sleepy. I hadn’t slept much last night but I didn’t want to miss the gorgeous signs! When am I going to be back on this train in the Sacred Valley of Peru? Well, I fell asleep on my tray table for a good 30 minutes and woke up in time for the second snack time (a banana) and some coffee.
The train ride is completely worth the visit to Machu Picchu. You see, this is the alternative to getting there if you decide not to hike the Inca Trail.