Day 9 — Fate Intervenes

Saturday — April 11

When we headed to the Perú Rail ticket booth after our day at Machu Picchu, it was to see if we could get an earlier train back to Ollantaytambo on the 13th. We were looking into this option not because we were bored with Machu Picchu, but because we wanted to drive through the Sacred Valley during daylight hours — for safety reasons as well as to enjoy the scenery. The news we got at the train station led to a change alright, but not the one we wanted. Forget about gettings tickets to an earlier train on the 13th … they would not be running at all!!!

Strikes by farmers are not unusual in Perú. What does that have to do with the trains? The farmers block the inter-city roads and the train tracks with boulders and any other debris they can get their hands on, effectively bringing transportation to a halt. This is what was in the works for the 13th — and possibly for the 14th as well.

My first thought upon hearing the news was, “Goody; there will be a lot fewer visitors at Machu Picchu.” On the heels of that thought came another: “Oh no; we have to be on a plane to Juliaca on the 14th. We can’t be stuck in Aguas Calientes.” With the trains being the only way out of town — you can’t hike the Inca Trail in reverse — we had no choice if we wanted to keep the rest of our itinerary intact. We had to take any train that still had open seats. A bit of negotiating with the ticket agent and we were switched to the 7:00p “backpacker train” to Ollantaytambo on the 12th, a day sooner than planned.

With our “more-valuable-than-gold” train tickets clutched in our hands, we sat on a bench near the train station to discuss what to do the next day. On the one hand, we wanted to return to the sanctuary to do the trek on Apu Machu Picchu. On the other hand, we had not yet done the activities offered by the hotel, having planned all along to do them on our last day in Aguas Calientes. That day was now going to be upon us sooner than anticipated. Yes, the Apu Machu Picchu Trek would be grand, but I couldn’t imagine facing a late train ride followed by an even later two-hour drive through the Sacred Valley to Cusco after what promised to be a strenuous trek. In the end, we decided to spend the day at the hotel. With the decision made, we headed to the Inkaterra to take care of matters there.

The staff at the front desk greeted us with the news of the impending strike and offered to help get our train tickets changed. They had already been in touch with Vidal as well. It was nice to know that had we come directly to the hotel, we would not have missed the news that was causing us to alter our plans. We thanked them for their offer, explained that we already had new tickets, and asked how they were going to accommodate our need to leave a day early (the hotel was pre-paid). After some discussion with the Inkaterra staff and a phone call with Vidal, it was decided that they would issue a credit voucher to Vidal who had made the payment on our behalf. We asked Vidal to apply part of the voucher to the additional night we would now be needing at Los Apus in Cusco and use the rest for the kids or for a community project. A win-win for everyone.

With our new plans now in place, we turned our attention to enjoying our last evening at the Inkaterra.

Next Up: Day 9 — Happy Birthday

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