We caught the train to Huancayo Friday morning. The taxi picked us up at 5:30 and the train pulled out of the staion at 7:00. We were expected to arrive in Huancayo at 7:00 in the evening, a 12 hour train ride over the Andes Mountains BUT we didn’t get in until 10:30 at night. They served the passengers breakfast and lunch but no dinner. We ate all our snacks and played cards, the same game over and over.
The train ride was just great . . . for the first 10 hours. We went through 68 tunnels and numerous bridges, climbing in elevation to 15,680 feet! The views were pretty spectacular as we traveled through the canyons and over the mountains. The local villages and pueblos along the way only have the train come through once a month during the summer months so the people and children would wave to us from their doorways and windows. I can’t imagine living so close to the tracks!! When we got to the top elevation, I would get woosy dizzy just standing up to take a picture out the window. Whew, breath deep. Unfortunately, it was too dark to see the little towns on the other side of the mountains which are part of the Huancayo mission. We’ll see them on our way home. We are taking the bus back to Lima tomorrow morning which is supposed to only take eight hours.
When we arrived at 10:30pm, there was still cultural dancers to greet us. In Mexico there would be a Mariachi band, in Italy some violinists, but here our greeting was a dance group symbolic of the African slaves who worked in the mines. Strange at such a late hour.
We stayed at a great resort in Huancayo located up on the hillside overlooking the city. We had a room like a little cottage chalet that was just delightful. The morning was glorious with blue skies and cool fresh air and pine trees. It was picturesque like being in the Austrian Alps, a huge difference out of Lima!
After a wonderful breakfast overlooking the valley, we went back into the city and checked into the Turismo Hotel. We spent the rest of the afternoon sightseeing, first to the silversmith and to the weaver’s shop. The owner shared with us the Quechua code of honor. Can you find the three ideals they live by? I bought a woven wall hanging that shows life in the Peruvian mountains to bring home.
My favorite part was to see the little Peruvian Quechua women in their native dress, multiple colorful skirts (polleras) of hand-woven wool cloth called bayeta, colorful shawl to carry their load or to carry children called k'eperina, a bowler hat, stockings and always long traditional braids. In the pictures below, notice how all the women have these long braids. Can you find the cow walking right across the street in town? How many dogs to you see with the woman waiting to cross the street? What do you think they carry in their back shawl? In the mountains, we didn't see any trucks, just bikes with these carts attached to carry large loads. In the field, do you see the women digging up papas (potatoes)?
Our last stop was to the gourd shop where we watched the old art of carving them. They showed us how they shaded and colored the designs with a burn stick. The harder they blew, the darker the colors.
The other technique was to rub animal fat all over the carved design and then add a black paste that was made with grass reeds. After rubbing it on very well, wipe it off and the designs are highlighted. Fascinating! Can you tell which technique was used in the pictures?
It was a wonderful trip. We love sharing with you the wonderful sites and experiences of Peru.