Sunday, July 22, 2012

Peru, heading for Machu Pichu

From Cuzco to Machu Pichu you pass through miles of farm land and rural scenery.  I keep forgetting that you are thousands of feet into the Andres mountains.  The farm land is lush and green and very productive.

What I find so amazing about the farmland is that there are no mechanical harvesters to be seen.  No trucks, plows, tractors, nothing.  It's all done by hand labor.  There aren't even any horses, just oxen.  I brought it up to my tour guides and they pointed out a couple things.  1) Food is cheap here because farmers don't have to pay for equipment, gas, etc.  2) Unemployment is very low, extremely low because if you don't have a job you can always work in the fields.  As a rule Americans can't make a living working in the fields as a manual laborer because the cost of living in the U.S. is so high.  But it doesn't seem to be an issue here.

The land is very fertile here.  They grow 3 THOUSAND types of potatoes! I could see how with some mechanical help the area could turn into a bread basket for that part of the world.  While I discussed it with my tour guides I kept seeing it from an American point of view and how you could increase production.

A large farming organization on these fields would produce so much more produce.  But people that harvest it now would not be needed in the numbers that work the fields now.  So what is the right answer?  For this area of the world, people working the crops for a wage is important than volume.

My tour guides were very patient with me and my questions on the farm productive subjects.  They have different interpretations of what is important I think.  Homes are mostly small.  There aren't a lot of vehicles except right in the city.  And traffic is awful in the cities because they haven't figured out traffic rules yet.

Away from the cities the country side is beautiful and rugged.  Mountains rim every valley and water falls and rivers are everywhere. A lot of the power is hydro.

From Cuzco I took a bus, then a train to Machu Pichu.  Train trips are always interesting  The train ride to Machu Pichu has all sorts of adventures, from tracks being washed out due to rain to making conversations in a dozen different languages that I don't speak.

We got served a snack on the train and lots of coffee. Later I learned there was also a full dining car, complete with tablecloths and silver for all of us willing to fork out a few more dollars.  While I love this sort of thing, I prefer to keep some trips reasonably inexpensive.

 The train tracks run through a major river valley.  Every fall during the rainy season the track foundation can be cutaway and suddenly the trains have to stop.  In some places the old tracks actually hang over the water where new tracks have been laid.

 Along the train tracks you find the station that will take you to the Inca Trail.  This trail crosses over the mountain and leads you to Machu Pichu.  If you decide to hike the trail it's about 6-10 days by foot.  There are porters and guides on the trail to carry  your supplies and prepare meals.  But you pack in everything you need, food, water, clothes, etc.

The history of this trail is incredible and I wish my legs would have let me do it.

The train takes you pass lots of terraced gardens.  Some are still in use, some abandoned since the time of the Incas.

Views from the train and through the glass roof.
 Views from the train.

The train provides whistle stop service to tiny hamlets along the tracks, stopping for people, unloading supplies.  In an area with no roads, the tracks are extremely important.

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