Ten and a half hours on the train actually pass very quickly. We clank along at about 40-50kph, Slow right down for some dodgy looking bridges and even a 10 minutes halt to try and sell artisanal products. Some of the countryside is stunning, running through a gorge with a river below.pl
Lunch is served early at noon and is not bad. It’s all aimed at high end tourism. The whole journey, 380kms is $210. Very few Peruvian travellers. Dire musicians and worse” typical folklore” dancer. It passes the time.
An interesting couple from Cambridge next to me share our enthusiasm for Venice and i tell them about the flat in San Polo. Keep Juergen happy. She is interviewing NGOs in the city which sounds intriguing.
Qosqo is the kechwa name for the city. It means navel of the world. Spanish got it wrong as per and their spelling is something rude. All the street signs are redone with kechwa names and Spanish as secondary. Almost everyone I came across spoke it as their first language.
Despite its reputation as the Incan capital its a pretty hardcore tourist town. Lots of hippies, young girls selling massage- not sure what the Spanish is for” happy ending”. Prices all higher than Lima.
Nonetheless it doesn’t feel threatening, just overly commercial. But then Puno felt friendly and safe and a pickpocket had 260 S (about £57) one evening. First time it has ever happened to me.
Having only one day makes it difficult to organise. Get up very early to go to the Cathedral, breakfast then a load of churches and a visit to the market. The latter was productive and I found all the bits I was after. Everywhere you look there are the signs of the Incan civilization of which this was the main hub. The stonework is astonishing. This has twelve sides and is probably a metre deep. Fashioned with only stone tools and at best bronze chisels, they are so accurate no mortar was needed.
The afternoon on the other hand was bad. A guided tour of five archaeological sites had me as the only English speaker in a group of thirty, which is embarrassing, you can feel all the iberophones twitching. A Frenchman and his two sons alleviate the pressure. He is an interesting character, does tall-building engineering. Says he is sure the Twin Towers explosion was a fix, given the way they fell down so quickly. Also, he is an old friend of Philippe Petit who did the wire walk between them. PP is completely crazy, he said. Who’d have thought it.
Anyway the tour is aimless and poorly informed and the final straw, when we are just about going to get back on time, is an unscheduled stop at a shop. When I tell the guide I have a meeting in Cusco at 6.30 she says it’s my fault for not telling her sooner. She eventually waves down another tourist bus that gets me to the centre by 7. God knows what time they got back.
Briefing for M/P informs me I will be picked up at 5am, so no breakfast. Dinner is grim in a scruffy cafe- the two places recommended had just closed as I got there! Decide to pack diocalm just in case. Macchu Picchu not a good place to have a stomach bug. Going to bed early is not a solution to getting up early. So, tomorrow is the pinnacle of the trip, the first thing anyone has mentioned in relation to Peru, world-renowned, on a par with the Pyramids and the Taj Mahal.
We shall see.