Sent: Thursday, 4 Sep 1997 04:00:03 +0300 (GMT+0300)
... from the beginning it looked not too bad - I mean , the WC at Lima's airport (Peru) did not stink from LIZOL (ליזול) as the ones of New Delhi, India. But, since Lima's reputation concerning thieves, armed robberies and ordinary terrorists is impressive, we did not try to get out of the airport which was like a "greenhouse", and passed there the night (always one of us awake) till the morning flight to Cusco, a much smaller and safer town (250,000 inhabitants). The local airline (Faucet) was 1 hour earlier than expected so already at 8 O'clock we were at 3,300 meters above sea level, hardly breathing the almost oxygen-less air.
We took a taxi strait to an hotel at the Plaza d'armas, where there was a parade for "La Virgen Carmen". We thought we were very lucky to see an vent going on the plaza.... later on we discovered that the Peruvians are very fond of Parades, demonstrations, and whatever, and they did it almost every day, blocking the traffic etc.
Cusco is discovered to be very easy for the spoiled western world citizen. There is EVERYTHING here - all kinds of food (m&m, Hershey chocolate, all kind of fruits inc. tropical), a lot of automatic teller machines (כספומט), and of course... access to the Internet ! After acclimatising (meanwhile we visited some Israeli restaurants (the menus are written in Hebrew, we ate MALAWACH (מלווח), SHAKSHUKA (שקשוקה) and consider also FALAFEL (פלאפל) ), Israeli hotels (to get information) and some Inca sites), we took a bus to the village of Chilca (alt 2,800) where we started the 4 days long Inca trail.
The backpacks are heavy, we are not used to walking as before, so that trail is quite difficult for us. The decision to walk by ourselves and not like everybody else, with a group is justified - since there are so many walkers (about ~200 people start this trail every day) it is very easy to find the way, and since we are by ourselves, we can choose quieter places to pitch our tent at.
The trek is very nice, I won't describe it, the photos that will come will do it better. One aspect which worth mentioning is the porters - it's amazing how cruel can be the exploitation of this poor people by the local travel agencies. Why pay for another porter - if you can load each one few KG's more ? And because of these consideration the agencies load each porter by inhuman weight and give them no backpacks, no proper shoes, they should do without, with their overused sandals and by improvising with ropes to tie the load to their backs. Awful.
After finishing the Inca trail, we went to relax our aching muscles in the hot springs of the small village of Aguas Calientes. As we arrived 5 minutes before closure time of the hot springs there, we said that we would only have a look (without paying, of course) but we stayed there (in the water) for about half an hour. On our way out, the "BUTKE" (בותקה) was empty, so actually we "sneaked in" (התפלחנו).
In the morning we had an almost military operation to organise- find a place in the train back to Cusco which is notoriously known to be packed with people. We stood in two different places on the queue hoping that one of us would be lucky. The train arrived 15 minutes late and the rushing-in began. Where Tali and I stood it was so crowded that I ran to the back of the train where it was completely empty. I did not leave my bag there in the train (since it would be robbed) and ran back to call Tali who was on a very crowded wagon. I didn't wait for her to come with me as I rushed to the back of the train to save a place for us. I waited, and waited, and only after 5 long minutes I saw Tali running on the quay and I waved for her to come. Tali came out of site and after 10 seconds the train started to move....
I was half hysteric, did she make it ? where is she? on the train in a different wagon, or still on the quay which I couldn't see. If she is on the quay, how would she manage without knowing a word in Spanish? should I get off the train the next station and call the police ? I decided to ask 2 tourists in front of me to put an eye on my belongings and started to search the whole train for Tali...
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