Okay, I’m not sure if I’ve got it right, but I’ll do my best. You see, I can’t quite understand Rosa’s English all the time, so I had to ask Andy to relay some of the details.
We were heading back from Machu Picchu – down the hill to Agua Calientes, then onto the train back to Cusco. Rosa seemed very worried and agitated about making sure that we were back at the train station by 3:00 for the 3:20 train, because if we weren’t, Bad Things would happen. I missed the bit about precisely what those “Bad Things” were, but Andy got it all and, as I said, explained it to me afterwards.
The problem, as I understand it, revolves around the Ghost Llamas. There was a constant stream of trains between Agua Calientes and Cusco, apparently with plenty of space, but that was only because I couldn’t see the Ghost Llamas that filled the otherwise spacious cars. We had reserved seats on the 3:20, and as vicious as llamas are known to be, they are not so belligerent as to interfere with a seat reservation. So they make do the best they can, riding on the roof in Peruvian tradition (this explains why the train tunnels on the Agua Calientes-Cusco route are so much higher than elsewhere in the country – llamas aren’t very good at ducking).
Anyhow – having Ghost Llamas on the roof also explains the “keep your head and arms inside at all times” bit. Riding up there can make a llama cranky and hungy, and those long necks aren’t only handy for reaching *up* to take a bite out of something. Lord knows how many tourists they’ve lost, despite those warnings, all in vain. For my part, I’m just glad that my Tilly hat has a lifetime replacement policy…
[Okay, sorry, I got it wrong. Andy clarified: the Ghost Llamas eat tourists who remain in Agua Calientes after dark, and the apparently unoccupied seats are taken up by ghost tourists being ferried out of town to avoid a ghost glut. The llamas on the roof of the train serve as guards of sorts to make sure the ghost pax don’t jump ship, er, train, but are happy to snack on protruding bits of non-ghosty passengers. I think – maybe I’d better run this by Andy again.]
Tell Andy that we managed to survive as tourists in Agua Calientes over night – although we did stay in a hotel and I did get um… travelers revenge. So I'm not sure how picky the ghost llamas are or if they can get you through the hotel walls either.