Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Junín Trip - Day 1 - Train Ride to Huancayo

The 3rd weekend of my time in Peru was spent on a trip to the region of Junín. It is a beautiful area in the middle of Peru. It is in the Andes but includes the western most half of Amazonía as well as the central highlands.

Very early Friday, we met in old downtown Lima to take the train to Huancayo, a notable city in the Junín province (more about that later). The train ride lasted 13 hours and traversed 69 tunnels, 58 bridges, 6 zigzags, and 6 climatic zones. It also is the highest passenger train in the world, reaching 15,881 feet at the highest point. The train stopped at the highest point so we could get out and take pictures, but because of altitude sickness, I didn’t make it past my train car without getting extremely tired, nauseous, and dizzy. To avoid passing out, I made it back to my seat to enjoy the view from there (to be honest, I just went back to sleep so I wouldn’t have to feel altitude sickness). The beginning and end of the ride were the best. The caboose is an open air viewing car where one can hang out, take pictures, and even order drinks from a bar. I enjoyed looking at the landscape and taking pictures during the day (before the high altitudes) and dancing salsa at night (more like enjoying from the sidelines watching the Latin Americans rip up the dance floor doing salsa).

We spent the night in Huancayo, which was the home of the Huancas before Pachacuti of the Incas conquered the city. The city has a strong history of resistance, not only with the Incas (whom they ferociously battled), but with the Spanish as well. The city was eventually conquered and colonized, but it has no main plaza (just a few here and there). This says something about its history, because a main plaza was the trademark of the Spanish conquistadores.

Needless to say, we were all tired when we got to the hotel. Traveling through the Andes is never for the faint in heart. After some delicious juicy Chicken a'la Brasa (kind of like rotisserie chicken) with greasy french fries and ahí (spicy sauce here that is delicious) at the sketchiest dive I have ever been too, I drink a lot of Coca de Mate and went to sleep.

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