David Coveney

Safety when travelling

A lot of travellers worry about being robbed, kidnapped, raped, or jailed for trumped up drugs charges.

Cusquena in Cusco!But they get on a knackered bus, driven by a coca leaf chewing driver for 12hrs at a stretch, along the most dangerous roads in the world, without a second thought. I´m pretty certain more travellers die in road accidents than any other way out here. Our driver for Chiway (Chivay) from Arequipa was, I´m sure, Fangio´s long lost and suspiciously young twin brother. But we got home quicker than anyone else so there´s always an upside.

In a week I´ll be saying goodbye to the rest of the group and striking out alone. Can´t say I´m looking forward to that moment, but it´ll also be nice to set my own pace and explore some more awkward places. Or just lounge for a week or two at a beach resort in Chile I´ve heard of. We’ll see….

Cusco by nightTomorrow is another day of Cusco – quite the most beautiful town I´ve seen. Full of a mix of colonial and Inca architecture, though the colonials pretty much finished off the Incan work. The day after is Macchu Pichu, or Machu Picchu – I can never remember the right spelling. It´s famously amazing, and we hoped to trek to it but the bad weather we´ve experienced here has, at times, turned the streets into rivers. Not good up a mountain so we´ll wimp out and take the train.

The Incan stonework is something to admire – close fitting stones, without cement, lock together and have survived many earthquakes. The foundations of many colonial buildings are Incan and you can still see the fine work. You literally can´t slide a cigarette paper between the stones. How they did it so well is a bit of a mystery. It´s a shame that the Conquistadors destroyed the indiginous culture so thoroughly. Had they not been quite so obsessed by shiny things Europe´s effect on South America would still be dramatic – we brought with us diseases as well as war, and this combination elicited one of the great holocausts in history, killing perhaps up to 90% of the native people according to some sources. But whichever way you look at it, we weren´t a positive factor here.

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