Left the tech behind in the Cusco hostel - got up at 07h00 - packed and got into a taxi to the bus station.
Firstly, when we arrived we had no idea where the bus stop actually was. The woman pointed around the corner, we traipse round there and wait with a load of other people who look, to our untrained eyes, as if they are waiting for a bus.
By 09h00 I was beginning to wonder what was going on.Then the woman comes round the corner saying something in Spanish that sounds like "no you silly people - I mean at least a mile down the road!". So off we trot only to see the bus leaving in the distance. Still Seamus heads off a top speed and get to the bus in time and we get on - turf some Catagory-3 free-loader (see an earlier blog entry) out of our very expensive seats and settle down.
Not much more to say about this leg of the journey to Qualabamba... Seamus read and I dozed as still feeling unwell...
All of a sudden, for no obvious reason, the bus stops and they chuck everyone off. The village we are in has blockaded the road and the bus canīt go any further. By all accounts the protest has extended to another day and if we are to get to our destination we will have to walk. ** this is the start of a bad few days ! **
We are advised by the bus company to head back to Cusco (oh how I wish we had listened to them) as the protesters are blocking all the roads into and out of Qualabamba. A helpful local tells us that the protest wonīt extend into tomorrow and that he knows a short cut there. We follow him...
En Route we also befriend a Peruvian farther and daughter combo and together with our helpful friend (who seems to like practicing his English) we head off. The locals seem to think that once we pass a certain point we will be able to get a lift.
They show us all kinds of short cuts - directly down the mountain sides instead of via the roads - they pick us oranges and find us water - the complete works.
Eventually we get to a place the English speaking guy says is called San Terrasa ** Remember this as this little bit of, as it turns out, misleading information will have a direct effect on the following weeks Schenanagins ** He also happens to mention that you can walk from S.T. to Machu Picchu.
OK so in S.T. we find someone who will run the road blocks and risk his van to take us and our friends to our destination but it will cost us. Fine by me - Iīm a firm believer that if you throw enough money at a problem it will eventually sort itself out.
All of a sudden we have to go NOW ! We literally throw our stuff into the bus and jump in. Run the road blocks and get stones thrown at the van. Seamus and I agree that adventure was what we were looking for but maybe this is a little too much...
As we go we pick up more and more people until there is literally no room in the bus at all. Then, the bus driver turns his lights out as he does not want to be seen from Qualabamba (the other side of the mountains).
Did I mention that I also notice the fact that the forest on the opposite mountain to us is on fire - big time ??
The bus takes us as far is he is willing to go and then we get out and have to walk the remaining distance. We pass through the road blocks (burnt out cars and things) and into town - Spagetti-Western style - "thereīs strangers in town". Qualabamba seems to be under some kind of self imposed exile from the outside world.
We find a hotel from the Lonely Planet guide and check in.
The English talking matey is also stranded here as he lives about 30 kms outside of town and canīt get out at this time of night. We all 3 go out for a burger in town that evening (very basic stuff).
Finally it is time for bed as tomorrow we have plans to make use of our time here...