You want us to walk down the train tracks?
For ten miles?
To the next village?
With our backpacks on?
I nodded eagerly. He shrugged his shoulders in defeated agreement. Was this really the same person who thought there was a good chance we would be killed if we slept on an overnight bus? Actually agreeing to something that might not be all that sensible?! Not putting up a fight?
To get to the town of Aquas Calientes (which is completely inaccessible by road) we’d taken the easy way in. The way reserved for those with enough money to allow them to view the ancient wonder of Machu Picchu in style and comfort. The tourist train; with a bloody see-through roof and everything! It kind of felt like we were cheating our way through Peru. Having missed out on the Inca Trail Trek due to a lack of planning, it would be nice to do SOME sort of walk on our own. Plus we’d get out of the sacred valley local style!
Only…was today the best day for it? I’d woken up with severe stomach cramps! Armed with one roll of toilet paper, no map and no clue we set off confidently on our march up the train track. The sun was kind and its warm rays shone down into the sacred valley, illuminating the lush tropical jungle; making the river sparkle and glitter. A secret heaven…and it felt like it was all ours! Why the hell weren’t more people on this beautiful walk? These were like the most beautiful sights I’d ever seen in the world! And that was really saying something considering I’d just seen a true world wonder!
The tiny little rail track seemed to sneak through the vibrant jungle, protected and hidden by the mighty tall mountains that stood proud at either side. Flocks of vivid jade parrots swooped down from banana trees, chattering noisily as they flew. Suddenly a strange rumbling sound filled the valley. The rails began to shake as an almost toy-like cobalt-blue PERU RAIL train bumbled around the corner; its little front light flashing in greeting. We squeezed up against the rocky jungle to let it pass.
Hearing the train toot off into the distance, we eagerly resumed our trek. As I jumped from sleeper to sleeper, views of beautiful orchids surrounded by hundreds of clementine-coloured butterflies filled my hungry eyes. A tunnel loomed ominously in the distance. Ah. Hadn’t thought of that. What if a train comes? How can we get past? It would surely squish us! There was only one thing for it. Our eyes met and we nodded in silent agreement. The only sensible option was to…FUCKING LEG IT!! Which is easier said than done when you’re living life as a turtle carrying your frigging home around on your back.
The ninja turtles were now faced with another dilemma. Having to cross a rusty looking old bridge which looked as if it may plummet at any second into the rushing river below. Of course it didn’t. We were fine.
Our achievements of the day were just piling up. We’d survived the tunnel terror, and the bridge of death. And I hadn’t even used the toilet paper. But as we approached the end of the train tracks, I began to worry. How were we going to get into Santa Teresa? How would we find where we were staying? We didn’t have a map! Who the hell doesn’t bring a map?! We were literally in the middle of no-where. Not a soul in sight. This looked like the sort of place some native tribesmen might jump out from the bushes and roast you over a giant cooking pot.
Of course that was just my overactive imagination. In typical travel style we were rescued by a very civilized man waiting in a taxi…right where we needed him. No cooking pots involved.