Day 14 :: State of Emergency

Stranded in Cusco.

I am not sure whether the news has broken in the US or not, but the region encompassing the Incan city of Cusco was determined by the Peruvian government to be in a state of emergency. Torrential rainfall over the last week has caused an unprecidented amount of damage to Machu Picchu and the Inca Trails – some 2000 visitors were stranded as of three days ago and have yet to all be evacuated, some 20 people have died (both locals and hikers on the trail) and the train tracks and pedestrian bridges leading to the ancient city have been destroyed. As a result, unfortunately, my trip to the ancient site stops here. The city is full of stranded people.

Little of this was even known back in Lima, as governmental agencies didn’t seem to think there was any need for concern and so I wasn’t well equipped enough to restructure my plans, but as these things go in life, perhaps its a sign that I should just take a breather (albeit in a city that is trying to pick up its pieces).

I arrived at my hostel in mid afternoon and spent a good deal of time talking with representatives from the travel agency to figure everything out. I strolled around for a while, quite casually on account of the high altitude, to prevent any further illness. So there isn’t much to report.

The last picture is pretty stellar, however. As I was sitting at a cafe drawing this little girl came up to me trying to sell these handmade finger puppets. I didn’t let her cutesy non-nonchalance fool me – she was like an Arab trader, only twice as shrew and drove a pitch you wouldn’t believe. At first I didn’t notice her and uttered the usual, “go away, I’m not interested” as I was drawing until I heard her stop and say, “oh how pretty,” as she pulled up a chair and sat to flatter me into buying a puppet. Luckily I have elevated to the level of 5 year old Spanish so we could carry on a conversation with some ease. We talked about what any five year old talks about – drawing, puppets, and chocolate. Realizing I was not in the market for what she was peddling she said, “well at least draw something for me.” I ripped out what I was working on and took her picture to remember the moment.

She popped up and said in plain English, “My new amigo; nice to meet you, Machu Picchu!” and ran off. She must have known my train was canceled.

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