Beyond the Silver River – Extract

“The train-number ‘485’ stopped where the ground levelled and the river widened and where the undergrowth had crept down from the mountainside and encroached upon the railway line. So great was the sound of rushing water that to step off the train was to feel yourself placed momentarily beneath a waterfall. By now the day was fading and the vegetation was dripping with humidity. A thin mist had begun to shroud the mountains. Abus took us the rest of the way to the heights of Machu Picchu, winding its way towards the higher peaks. For the first time since leaving Cuzko, the tourists had fallen silent, half awestruck, half terrified by the sheer drop on either side of the road and the mass of vegetation that spread out across the valley, which was covered in wild orchids and lupins. When we reached the top the silence broke, as the toursist tumbled out and raced towards the ruins. BY then we had decided to wait until the bus had taken them down the hill again so we could see Macchu Picchu by ourselves. The next days we watched the dawn break over Machu Picchu. The sun’s rays moved slowly across the gigantic mountains of granite. Against a black backdrop, first one peak then another became illuminated, the upper reaches cut off from the rest by a collar of pinkish mist. Like a piece of creation, Machu Picchu was revlealed to us in slow motion, the light spreading as it fell down towards the ruins. Now the breadth and scope of each mountain was defined as the mist evaporated, leaving only thin wisps, and the sun grew bolder. Each mountain seemed to resemble a giant animal rising from sleep. Under the sun, in the morning brightness, Huauyna Picchu, which overlooks the site, was a gargantuan silver-lined lion crouching and ready to pounce.”

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