09.30.2008 - 10.01.2008
The evening before heading to Puno, we went to a folk dance show at the arts center in Cuzco, which was great. After that, we headed back to Torre Dorada and chatted with the people there for a while. We also shared some huckleberry candy and hot chocolate with them, which was fun. In the morning, they took us to the train station, made sure our bags were checked correctly and we said goodbye. It was so sad to leave them and Cusco, but the many adventures awaiting left no choice.
We boarded the andean explorer for the day long train ride from Cusco to Puno. This train was certainly first class. Jen and I had our own table and big, comfortable chairs. We had a menu of food to choose from and our place settings had several forks, spoons and knives, which we hopefully used correctly. The train also had a car with a bar and couches as well as an open air car on the end, which was great for photos. We passed through small towns where people farmed and children ran out to wave at the train. The tracks led us up to La Raya, the highest point of the trip at 14,172 feet, where we stopped and were able to get off for a few minutes. It was beautiful at this point, with peaks still reaching up above us. As I wandered toward the engine of the train to take a photo, I discovered something slightly disturbing. Scattered along the ground by the tracks and stretching on for at least 50 feet were piles of old cell phones, calculators, remotes, etc. I had observed a lot of trash in towns and along the countryside here, but nothing quite like this. As I stood in confusion looking at this junky pile of plastic, the engine horn sounded and I nearly jumped out my own skin. I reboarded the train and we began the 1800 foot descent to Puno. Before we arrived, I finally had my first (and second) pisco sour, which were quite enjoyable.
As we neared the lake and Puno, the sun was setting, I felt content and ready for this next stop of our venture. If only I had known what the next couple days would hold....