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Whirlwind Tour of Machu Picchu   1 | 2 | 3 

22 Dec 2001

AGUAS CALIENTES, PERU — Our hotel in Cusco is quaint, but we probably got the noisiest room there is, basically right in the lobby. I couldn't sleep for most of the night, and I was up at the crack of dawn, because every sound in our creaky-floored hotel lobby permeated through our paper-thin door. Guests were playing the piano and talking last night until around midnight, then the neighboring wake-up calls (knocking on the door) and glass clinking in the "kitchenette" began around 5:30.

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Train to Machu Picchu

When I finally did get up, I felt heavy-headed, and my left hand was completely numb. I'd assumed I'd just slept on it funny, but the feeling still wasn't gone by breakfast. By that time, I began to think it was an altitude/blood pressure problem, so I took a pill that was supposed to help my circulation, and hopefully solve the problem.

We meagerly enjoyed our "continental" breakfast, consisting of cold hamburger buns, some kind of gelatinous-looking juice, and coffee, then left to get on the train to Machu Picchu at 7:30. Our neighboring passengers for this four-hour trip where a mother and father, travelling with their 21-year old son, whom they were picking up at the end of his two-year mission here. Things seemed quite nice, at first, but then the mother started the Latter Day Saint Preach-a-thon with the German woman sitting across from her. Erin and I did the most logical thing we could think to do, and feigned sleep for the next two hours. We awoke to learn that the father was about 20 years older than the mother (he was her high school teacher), and that they had nine kids. The son asked when we were getting married, and that was our cue to go back into our fake slumber.

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Roof Adornments

The four-hour ride was otherwise okay, and somewhat unique. Because the mountains were so high, and the engine so puny, many switchbacks were put in place to allow the train to zig-zag up the steeper parts. We'd be travelling along for a while, then slow to a stop, pause for a few seconds, and start travelling backward. A few minutes later, the process would repeat, and we'd start going forward again. The rest of the time, we watched the towering green Andes fly by us at about eight miles an hour, along with dozens of flat, thatch-roofed houses that were almost unanimously adorned with bull-like figurines and flowers. We figured it had to mean something...we just didn't know what. (Ed.: We got two different stories over the next two days. See the photo caption for details.)

Meanwhile, both my hands and half my left arm had gone totally numb. I was stumped as to what the cause might be, except that I was definitely able to rule out heart attack as the cause. I wasn't particularly worried, but it was a most disturbing feeling to have.

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Last updated: 15 Jan 2002 10:59:45