Mental sketches from the train

On the train from Puno to Cuzco


Maybe it was the way I was raised – near the railroad lines, running down to the tracks with my parents or grandparents to count the cars on the freights or wave at the conductors – but train rides, or even the sight of trains in general, fill me with all kinds of nostalgia and romanticism of days past. Staring out the window at mile after mile of changing terrain stirs my imagination: little sketches from the placid shores of the lake in the early morning hours, to the rain-swept plains, sheltered amongst the impossibly-high peaks of the Andes which we now rumble through.

Along the solitary track hover herds of alpaca, sheep, cows, and the small settlements of the ranchers. Their comings and goings marked only by their small, crude buildings, in different states of repair, and the humble graveyards that stand sentry over the Puno-Cuzco line.

Glimpses of a countryside – of a lifestyle – that one misses when exploring the frantic beehives that are the major cities in Peru. Little cameos of a simpler rural life.

Cattle grazing on soccer fields, standing under the goalposts like gluttonous keepers. The sheep snacking on the midfield while the children run home from school to eat their own lunches.

Farmers crouch in the fields, hiding from the rain under tee-pees made of cloaks or tarps, making them resemble the nearby, conical haystacks.

Just like at home, children in the arms of parents, or freely standing wave at the train as it passes by – hoping for a wave in return from those in the windows. I try not to disappoint.

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