Before I continue on with my travel journal, it’s necessary to document the journey back from Macchu Picchu.
As I mentioned before, I took the car route to MaPi. It is also the same route on the way back: from Aguas Calientes, we took a train to the hydroelectric station, from where the cars picked up the tourists. This time I was told to join a bus instead, where there were “people who speak English”. Now even though my Spanish is not that good, I had no problems communicating with the people I came with. “Comunicacion es dificil pero no imposible,” as one of the Brazilians in the group told me in Sportuguese (their Spanish is just as bad as mine!). But the seats on the bus looked more comfortable than the 11-passenger car I came in. So the choice was made.
But a bigger vehicle is also clumsier. On the way, it almost got stuck in a rather deep hole and in its bid to come unstuck, the back bumper fell off!
On the way, at a rest stop, the driver took on (for extra money, of course) 3 additional passengers on the already-full bus. Not just that, goods – heavy goods including amongst other things, cooking gas tank! – were loaded on top of the roof. One tourist took a photo of the bus’ sunken tyres as the goods were being loaded. It is rather worrying because one third of the road back to Cusco is unpaved, and sometimes the vehicles have to drive through river streams, all very well and fun during the trip here in BRIGHT daylight, but not when the sun is about to set.
And true enough, by about 7pm after sunset, the first flat tyre happened. The driver didn’t even have a torch light and one of the tourists had to hold a light for him as he changed tyres, by the dark mountainous road.
It was dark, and the moon shone beautifully in the mountain air but nobody was in the mood to admire (I shall spare the details of oral altercations between some passengers and the bus driver). Plus, most people were tired from the day’s excursion at Macchu Picchu. As most people on the bus, including myself, snoozed, the bus suddenly came to a halt. We were not told to do anything, while we heard the bus driver tinkering with some tools outside the bus. After sometime a tourist asked him in Spanish, and apparently something was wrong with the clutch?! At last, he told everyone to get off the bus, whilst he changed another tyre!!
This time, it was already about half past nine, and the air was beyond crisp, and all of us huddled in the cold by the roadside, half cursing the driver. And then, more drama! A girl collapsed in the middle of the road, apparently because of an asthma attack. One of the tourists asked the driver to call a doctor, but apparently there’s no cellphone signal here! I was feeling nervous myself as my stomach wasn’t feeling too good and was also feeling a bit nauseous. The girl was also travelling alone, like me. While the other tourists helped to keep her warm and fed her with coca powder mixed with water, she still looked pale and in need of medical help.
Finally the bus could get moving. However there was an uneasy squeaky machine sound as the bus went at snail’s pace. Inside the bus, we were all quiet. Worried about the gravity of the situation, perhaps. Finally, a car passed by, and two passengers got the bus driver to signal the car to stop so they can bring the girl to the hospital quicker (since the bus is in no fit condition to move normally).
After they left, the bus continued, but we heard a deflating sound, and the bus continued for at least an hour on a flat tyre!! No point in stopping I guess, since there is no more spare tyre to change into! For the first time whilst in South America, I felt in danger.
Finally, we reached Ollantaytambo, which is still 1.5 hour away from Cusco. The bus driver told us to get off and herded us into separate taxis, which he had no choice but to pay for. By the time we reach the city centre of Cusco, it was already 1.35am in the morning, and I got into a taxi to get to my hostal. I just couldn’t wait to drag my tired body and ill stomach into bed.
I decided to postpone my trip to Puno, and I was to spend the next day recuperating.