We had just come down from Machu Picchu and were sitting on the second floor of a restaurant in Aguas Calientes, a kind of base camp for the final assault on the iconic ruin. A band playing a mix of Peruvian traditional and pop music started up in the street below and unbeknownst to me this little guy slid in behind my chair to watch them. A few minutes passed before I noticed him and snapped these photos.
I was snapping pictures on the Plaza de Armas in Cusco when this women approached me – with what I initially understood to be her daughter in tow – to ask if they could practice their English with me. I obliged, but it turned out her request was really just a ruse. Turns out she was a lawyer and a mid-wife, and had double-sided business cards to prove it. After about 20 minutes it became clear that what she really wanted was for me to marry her and take her back to Canada. I didn’t think that was such a good idea. After all, I’m already married and there’s laws against that sort of thing! She later claimed that her young sidekick was a cousin. Only the Shadow knows for sure, I guess… Returning from dinner after dark in Bucay, Ecuador – one of the most impoverished cities we have visited during our trip – we were approached by this young waif in the street who must have been all of seven years old. Curious about us, she struck up a conversation that tested our limited Spanish, inquiring as to whence we came, where we were headed to, and so forth. I was impressed by her inquisitive, precocious and un-self-conscious persona.
I was stopped by the side of the road to snap a picture of one of the artsy little black rock houses near Sillustani, when this woman and baby emerged from a house on the opposite side of the otherwise vacant road. I asked if I could take a picture of her with her baby and then gave her a small propina (tip) in appreciation.
We were sitting in the waiting room at the train station in Aguas Calientes and I had just finished drinking a plastic bottle of water. This little guy came up and quietly helped himself to it, then proceeded to play football and handball with it around the waiting room floor. I was impressed with his fun, rambunctious energy.
A couple of times I managed to get women with babies to agree to let me take their pictures. I was always impressed with how they were able to bundle up their little ones in what effectively must be a shawl, apparently in a fairly secure manner. Interestingly though, even after they agreed to let me take their pictures, I don’t think they really understood the idea of “posing” for a photograph, and usually just went on about their business, making the photographic outcome something of a chance event.
While waiting for the train from Hidro-electrica to Aguas Calientes, this troop of school kids, also on their way to Machu Picchu for a field trip, took keen interest in us, again wanting to know where we came from, where we were going, and to learn a bit of English. The following day I snapped one of the young lads decked out in his school uniform while we were waiting for the return train in Aguas Calientes. I think he was a bit disappointed that we didn’t remember him from the previous day, since he came over to Space Cowboy to show him a picture on his camera that he had taken of us when we had met them at the lower station.
As we were riding through the Peruvian desert approaching Nasca, we stopped beside the highway at the three-story lookout tower from which one can view the famous Nasca lines. A bus-load of high schoolers were just coming down from the lookout and were keen to check out both us and our bikes, with a few even trying out the pilot’s seat!
The Big Easy