Saturday, March 23, 2013

Over the Andes by Train

One of Latin America's great engineering achievements of the 19th century was the completion of a train line across the Andes between Lima and Huancayo.
The 12-hour journey begins in the desert coast around Lima and climbs through a subtropical river valley, dozens of rock tunnels, onto the puna, and finally up and over the snow-covered Cordillera. Needless to say, the 12-hour ride is a memorable experience.
The train was built between 1870 and 1908 and was the brainchild of American entrepreneur Henry Meiggs, who bragged that he could "get a train wherever a llama can walk". Polish engineer Ernest Malinowski designed most of the 61 bridges, 65 tunnels, and 21 switchbacks, built over four decades by 10,000 workers - more than half of whom were indentured workers, or coolies, from China.
The train, considered to serve the highest passenger station in the world, climbs nearly nine meters per minute until reaching Ticlio at 4,758 meters. Shortly afterwards it climbs to its highest point La Galera, a tunnel through the Andes at 4,781 meters.
While adusting to a higher altitude, it is always a good idea to avoid alcohol, heavy foods, and physical exertion. As the Bolivians say, COME POCO, TOME POCO Y DUERMA SOLO:)
(Eat little, drink little and sleep alone")  :)

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