These boys are the safety patrol in Cusco. I’m not sure what the sign says, but I have the general idea. These guys were in the center median of the main street in Cusco and their job was to keep people from jay-walking. The sign is saying to cross at the light or something like that. It reminds me of my duty as a crosswalk guy in the sixth grade. I had a badge and a little outfit and got to help younger kids across the street. These guys have a sign and a whip and they threaten people who jay-walk in Cusco. I’m not sure how many deaths they prevent, but they’re entertaining.
One thing you need to understand immediately is that we are really high above the salt pans of Salinas and it was a little scary taking this picture. You will be able to see in the next picture just how large those tiny little squares in this picture actually are. One wrong step and someone would be picking salt out of my brain for a long, long time. It was an incredible sight, but not one I want to experience all the time. I don’t think I’m really geared for working in high altitude terrain.
The is the table of trains from the Ollantaytambo Peru Train Station. It appeared to be reasonably accurate as of the day the photo was taken. There were 4 types of service. Expedition is the “backpacker” special and should not be taken by “elite” types who do not want to be on a very crowded train with a bunch of very rowdy backpackers. For people who want a little space as well as “peace and quiet” I suggest the Vistadome37 Service, which is about $19 more or $56 total meaning the backpacker service was $37. .Note that late services coming and going tend to be backpacker only. Note also that there are cheaper ways to get to Machu Picchu. The trains are actually quite nice. Its all the rowdy drunks coming back that make the 1.5 hour train trip to Ollantaytambo a pain. That is, unless you get drunk and join them.
The picture here is of a ticket line at Ollantaytambo Train Station. Note that I was dumb enough to actually go to Machu Picchu on a Sunday to stay overnight and enter on a Monday. That was a bad idea. Sundays are a “free day” for Peruvians or at least those people living in the area. It appeared that they not only got a free entrance to Machu Picchu but they got free train tickets, or very, very discounted tickets by showing an ID to the local ticket office. That’s what I witnessed. It made for a heck-of-a-line. My advise is to go to Machu Picchu on a weekday.
Nice Rides, eh? These are part of the fleet of taxis at Ollantaytambo, Peru that will take you from the central square in Ollantaytambo to the train station for about 70 cents. It takes all of about two minutes to get there and it’s downhill. Not such a good deal. But, coming back…
It’s me. I’m on the train going to Machu Picchu. I’m in the the Vistadome Service. Nice train. Not really worth the extra money ($19) going to Machu Picchu, but well worth it coming back, unless of course you’re intoxicated like so many others coming back late from Machu Picchu. Anyway, the train was nice and the views where superb. If it were me, I’d take the backpacker special coming and going during he day. This means that you have to spend two nights in Aquas Caliente. But, you get some wonderful views of the locale.
The travel guides say it’s something of an armpit or worse. I disagree. Yes, it’s a tourist trap. Yes, it’s relatively expensive compared to Cusco, where most travelers to Machu Picchu spend most of their time. But it’s not as expensive as people make it out to be and bargains can be had in terms of accommodations, the biggest cost. I liked the little town. Note that there’s no traffic. Everyone walks everywhere. It seems that everything arrived by train. There was no way that I know of to get to the town other than walk (trek) one of the Inca Trails or take the train. It makes for an interesting experience
One of the streets in Aquas Caliente. There were lots of hills. Actually, there was very little flat space. Even the relatively flat space was on an incline. There was a really beautiful stream running through the middle of town. I thought the place had character. Yes, every time I turned around someone was trying to sell me something, But I’m not the kind of person who has a problem with that unless they’re less than five years old and obviously desperately poor.
These are the turnstiles at Machu Picchu. There are 3 or 4 of them. This is where everyone that goes to the site must pass to get in. Or at least the legal entries. It was something of a slow process. Each ticket had a name on it and a person entering must show ID as well as present a ticket. You could go out and come back in as much as you wanted. There was a little snack bar that served food and drink. It was very expensive as in $2.50 for a small water and $8 for a sandwich. It was not the kind of place that you wanted to splurge. I ate lunch there. The food was okay, but nothing special. Then again, if you’re hungry after climbing all over creation…
A lot of people asked me about the entrance to Machu Picchu. This was because they were going to meet someone there and they felt they might not find them. Not likely. The bus can be seen in the distance if you look hard enough. This where everyone is dropped off. I took this picture after I was actually inside on an elevated walkway. Even with the fog you should be able to see that the area in the picture isn’t a very large space and this is the extent of the CheckPoint at Machu Picchu. It would be pretty difficult to miss someone here if you were looking for them.