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Cuzco - Peru

Written on: Friday February 5th, 2010

A journal entry from: South America

January 23rd - 29th

We had booked our train tickets to Macchu Picchu a week before when we were in La Paz, just to make sure we wouldn´t miss out. However, we hadn´t counted on the weather..... We met some American tourists who had just come back on the train and they told us that it was a nail biting journey. The river was flooding and there was lots of water coming over the tracks. Unfortunately the weather deteriorated and we heard rumors that the trains were cancelled. This turned out to be true and there was no way we were getting to Macchu Picchu.

We were very disappointed but there were a lot of people in much worse situations than us. Several people had died due to mudslides and thousands had lost their homes. A state of emergency was declared in Cuzco. Additionally, some two thousand tourists were stuck in Aguas Calientes, the town next to Macchu Picchu as the train is the only way down. The Americans at our hotel must have caught the last train back.... 

Being in the centre of Cuzco we didn´t notice too much, except for the heavy rains and we heard that a few buildings had collapsed in another area of town. A relief effort had started and we saw a lot of helicopters flying overhead to transport the tourists stuck at Aguas Calientes. We heard that people were paying 500 dollars to get a seat. There was also a big collection of clothes, food, water and other donations for the local people affected by the disaster, to which we contributed of course.  

Cuzco is a very beautiful and interesting town and we decided to stay a few days before catching our flight in Lima, despite the situation. Much of the transport network was in chaos so it would have been difficult to leave straight away anyway. Feeling a bit low we spent some time in the "tourist pubs" having a drink and chatting to other people in the same situation. Our favourite was the very smoky but charming Irish pub Paddy O´Flahertys.

Naturally we also explored some of the Inca sights in the town (as the famous Sacred Valley was inaccessible). Cuzco was the cultural and religious centre of the whole Inca empire. We went to the Inca museum to learn a bit more about this fascinating culture and to see some artifacts. Our favourite site was Qorikancha which means "golden courtyard". It was the richest and also one of the most important Inca temples. Today all that is left is the stonework, since all the gold was looted by the Spaniards. They also built a Dominican church right on top of it.

We left on an overnight bus for Lima (27 hrs....) where we would only have one night before flying off to Caracas.