This is an adapted excerpt from my memoir, Between Inca Walls.
At the Cusco railway station on November 22, 1964, my Peace Corps roommate Marie and I purchased tickets for the local train to Machu Picchu, not the more expensive train for tourists. Our plan was to see the ancient wonder of the world, then visit fellow volunteer, Larry at his site in Quillabamba.
Trains were one of the few things that arrived and left on time in Peru. We hopped aboard as soon as ours pulled into the station and settled onto a couple of scratched blue vinyl seats. After a short wait, we hear three toots of the whistle and began to move. The diesel engine labored forward, then backward, to pull, then push, the six passenger cars up the zigzagging rails on the side of the mountain and out of the city. Close to the top, burning oil replaced the musty smell of red clay soil. Smoke billowed outside the window of our car. I voiced concern to the man checking our tickets.
“Just a dirty carburetor,” the man said.
Evelyn LaTorre is a memoir writer living in Fremont, CA.