It had to happen – on the last day in Bolivia I ate the wrong thing, and the revenge of the Inkas (or perhaps of Copacabana, after I called it a city corrupted by tourism) got to me. Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay in Bolivia and close proximity to a toilet, but had to take the bus to Peru, as I’d booked various train rides plus the permit for Machu Picchu, none of which had been cheap. So I stuffed myself with pills, grit my teeth and pulled my buttocks together, and hoped for the best. Somehow I got to Puno, a bit weak but very relieved, where I boarded the Andean Explorer train to Cuzco, reportedly one of the top train rides in the world. I must say, a beautiful train, with fine food on fine china with fine silverware, whilst outside the Peruvian Andes passed by and the Peruvian locals waved merrily. And most importantly: With a wonderful toilet.
I couldn’t picture the locals on this train (other than as entertainment, of course) – I think they’d be highly amused by all these fine accessories. I felt that here was one world rolling right through a completely different one, with few points of contact. But in any case, a train ride well worth it, should you come this way.
I had hesitated quite a bit before deciding to visit Machu Picchu, where tickets are limited to 2500 a day – obviously, a place of quiet contemplation and silence. In the end, I thought of the Taj Mahal, which I had expected to be quite tacky too, and instead found a place where some magic still exists. So I booked my tickets, but decided against a heroic 4 day trek; instead I took a train and next day a bus to the top.
And, was it worth the effort and money spent? Well, if you like rip-offs, crowds of people, long queues, tackiness, and especially Selfie-taking tourists – then oh yes, definitely! If the true Incas could see all this – I don’t know who they would rather slaughter on their huge stone of sacrifice, the tourists or their own descendants who so cheaply (not in the literal sense!) sell their heritage. Perhaps it didn’t help that the day was overcast and rainy and the light was awful for photos, although the clouds provided a certain drama. The setting is spectacular, no doubt. But still, there was no magic left for me. I wished I’d spent a fraction of the trip’s costs on a nice video and picture book of Machu Picchu and had otherwise spent my time somewhere else, in Bolivia for example which I really loved. But this is only my own and subjective opinion, of course.
And finally a word regarding Selfie-taking tourists. My personal bad luck – I was at so many touristy places recently and I am coming to hate anybody who runs through life with one of those stupid sticks so they can constantly take pictures of themselves. Why? WHY?? I had one of those people on my trip to Uyuni, and she and her stick were all the time running from one view to the next, only to hold her grinning face into the camera, beauty of countryside of secondary importance. Who in the world or their right mind can want to watch all those photos of the same grinning face afterwards? I made the mistake of mentioning that I’d been to Easter Island recently, and next thing I had her iphone in front of me, with ca. 100 photos supposedly of Easter Island, ca. 70 of which just showed her grinning face, with the statues somewhere tiny in the background. Dreadful. A few selfies as proof that one is a traveller of the world – fine. But this excess – narcissism is spreading over the world, and I am seriously considering snatching those daft selfie-sticks away from the people and ramming them into where the sun don’t shine. But that also is my own, subjective opinion, of course.