Santos and I woke up at 4:30 am so we could get to the train station in Machu Picchu on time for our 5:30 am train trip to Ollantaytambo, making it our third straight night without a full night's rest. We gathered our gear and walked down to the train station, waved our tickets, and waited for the train to arrive. When it did we climbed aboard, and to our sweet relief we discovered the ride was smooth and without any curves like our hair-raising drive through the mountains less than 48 hours before.
After talking briefly with a French couple who had wisely come to Cusco a week before to get adjusted to the altitude, we kicked our feet up and rested, snapping only a few photos along the way. Every once in a while the train would stop to let another train coming from the opposite direction pass through a tunnel ahead of us where only one track was laid or to switch back onto another track in order to climb higher up the mountainside.
I let Santos ride up front after he had taken the bullet riding in the back on the trip to Santa Teresa, but the ride between Ollantaytambo and Cusco hadn't made us sick on the way up, and by now we were getting used to the altitude enough that we didn't even feel any effect from the driving. The driver asked if we wanted to stop at a place where some Quechua women sold souvenirs. We had the time, so we agreed. When we got there we were treated to some tea and a presentation showing us how they spin wool, dye it, and turn it into cloth. It was quite fascinating. Afterwards Santos and I perused the items for sale, and we both picked up a couple items to take back home. Before we left we all posed for a photo.
We finished our shopping and made it back to the airport with time to spare. Our flight was slightly delayed (never going with Avianca again), but we managed to get out on time. In fact, once we were in the air our pilot apologized for rushing us onto the plane when we finally did get to board. He explained that the rush was necessary because our aircraft was not rated for night flying and we had to get off the ground before it was too late. This was a little unsettling as the sun set over the Pacific Ocean on our approach to Lima, but we made it with no problem.
We had another layover in the Lima airport, but this time, for some reason, we had no problem falling asleep even with the constant announcements over the loudspeaker. I set my alarm and drifted off into dreamworld on one of the benches. Santos woke up about an hour before our midnight flight and nearly had an infarction thinking we had come so close to sleeping through boarding until I told him my alarm would have gone off in a few minutes anyways.
Tuesday, October 18, 2016
On the plane I didn't even try to sleep until we were in the air and I could recline my seat a little. Again, I was surprised at how easy it was for me to sleep when I had been unable to do so on the way down. Santos, on the other hand, had difficulty sleeping due in part to the elderly lady on his left using his shoulder as a pillow. I didn't get a chance to ask her how she slept, but Santos believes she slept well.
Thank you all for praying for me during this trip. To those of you who helped shoulder some of the costs, I am eternally grateful. To all who have read through these recollections, thank you. I was richly blessed, and the believers in Chazuta, Santa Teresa, Machu Picchu, and beyond were encouraged. To God be the glory.