Wednesday, April 30, 2008

In through the Backdoor of Machu Picchu - Part One

Our journey to Macchu Picchu started with a bus. Actually a couple of them. From Cuzco we purchased tickets for 15 soles ( a little under 5 dollars) to Santa Maria (a 8 hour bus ride) and then splurged another 10 soles to Santa Teresa (another two hours). The journey takes you through numerous little farming towns where banana trees tower over the road, coffee plants are abundant, and the ever presence of coca is spread throughout. This was actually the first time I had seen the coca fields myself. The buses make numerous stops to let locals off or bring new ones on while local women rush to the bus windows to sell their fruits and goods. From Santa Teresa on, Eric and I were traveling in a small van packed in with locals and two other backpackers from Spain and Brazil.

This concept of picking up random locals is pretty common in Peru. But it was one in particular woman that stood out. This woman had six large burlap bags filled to the brim with something we couldn´t see. She proceeded to start handing us bags into the bus and numerous passengers kept them on their laps. It was an instant recognition from the strong smell coming from the bags, she was transporting a lot of coca. Conversation changed to her crop and through process of elimination, she wasn´t planning on taking them to market for chewing but in fact they were destined for the local cocaine lab. The funny thing was that the guy sitting behind the driver was a cop. The driver whispered to him, ``Hey are you going to do anything about this?`` and the cop replied that he wasn´t because it was his day off and he wouldn´t be paid for the bust. Scary. It makes you wonder about the impact our government is having on the war on drugs.

We dropped her off and kept making our way towards Machu Picchu.

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