Murder on the Andean Explorer!

Imagine the scene, the camera swoops down along the street as the great detective arrives at the train station in deepest Peru. It’s a rainy, misty, somber morning. The scene unfolds without words as the detective and his assistant are ushered through a small doorway in a long plain wall where a lady tries to sell bottled water and playing cards to them. Their driver takes their baggage and deposits it with the luggage check in and then points them in the direction of the ticket inspector.

The opening music fades and the first words are muttered, the ticket inspector introducing our renowned couple to Paulo, the butler on the train who escorts them to it. The camera follows as they walk the length of the train, passed the locomotive engine, luggage wagon and kitchen carriage to finally arrive at the guest accommodation. As they board the train the camera continues onwards showing the final entertainment carriage with its open rear viewing platform.

We move inside the seating carriage. The Detective is shown to a pair of seats facing each other in the centre of the carriage. It’s freezing cold and breathless mutterings can be heard as hand luggage is deposited on the racks above the seats but coats and hats  remain firmly on.

The carriage is straight from the 1920s, timber panelled walls with brass wall lights with brass luggage racks above. The seats are like armchairs and the tables are covered in table cloths with little desk lamps and a vase of flowers on them.

Soon the fellow guests begin to arrive, and each in turn is focussed on for a few moments. Occupying one of the four seater blocks around a table is a family from Northern England, a chatty mother, tall checked shirted father and their daughter who’s much too old to be on holiday with them.

Next to them a young newlywed Australian couple, honeymooning in Peru. She has bleached blonde long hair and a straight laced face and he’s trying to grow out a 1920’s pencil moustache.

Adjacent to them are a Welsh Family, fidget mother and overly verbose father travelling with their daughter and her Bolivian husband. The daughter likes to show off her Spanish, to prove to her parents that the gap year before starting Uni that turned into marrying a Bolivian did indeed teach her something. He speaks little English, has a strange disguise-like beard stuck below his chin and seems to fall asleep at the drop of a hat.

Behind the Welsh are another Australian couple, this time retirees from Melbourne. He is broad, big mouthed and the life and soul of the barbie. She is thin, beak-faced and thoughtful. She says little, preferring to stare out of the window at the passing mountains and llamas.

Beyond them are the studious family, all bespectacled, a mother, father and two teenage daughters, the youngest of whom is permanently plugged in to her phone screen and headphones. The elder has her head in a book whilst the mother looks like she has plugged herself into a power outlet. The father has a camera permanently fixed to him, generally ignores his family and spends his time photographing and videoing everything else.

Finally, bookending either end of the carriage we have the overseas extras, not central to the story but employed by ITV to give this story a multinational feel: a flamboyant Argentine couple at one end and a Peruvian family with two young children at the other and of course a pair of French middle aged travellers exploring the world and comparing it negatively to Le Francais.

The camera finally completes its circuit of the carriage and arrives back at Hercule and his very sophisticated and overly observant side kick who sit watching as their fellow travellers take their seats.

The train sets off on its 390km journey taking it away from the waters of Lake Titikaka, through the llama filled fields of southern Peru and travels north west, through the Andes to the ancient Inca city of Cuzco.

Paulo the butler pours water into glasses for each table and asks if anyone would like to make a breakfast order. At the Welsh table, Mrs Welsh is asking him questions and explaining that she has low haemoglobin, “No I don’t drink tea or coffee or wine or beer… No I don’t have cocktails either, why can’t you do a hot chocolate in the included drinks?”

A while later pan pipes play in the packed entertainment car at the rear of the train as the guests watch the Puno Players perform and Rose the dancer show off her typical Peruvian twirling. The guests sip cocktails and clap along as the performers walk up and down the carriage.

The entertainment ends and back in the dining car Hercule and his sidekick enjoy their lunch, before the train makes a stop half way through the ten hour journey. A colourful impromptu market has formed where the train halts with local Peruvians selling llama jumpers, scarves and throws. Mr Newlywed, Mr Australian Retiree and Hercule’s sidekick all purchase the same style jumper. A Peruvian lady drapes scarves and tablecloths over Hercule whilst he fights desperately to get out from under them.

The train is moving again and afternoon tea is being served shortly before the guests arrive at their final destination. Hercule and his sidekick wait for the inevitable crime to be committed in order that they can tax their ‘little grey cells‘ and solve it. It is, however, all slightly redundant as inevitably Hercule will simply  gather all of the guests in the dining car and after a long winded explanation running through each major character on the train announce to the shocked carriage that:

the butler did it!

Hercule’s Sidekick, the Andean Explorer Train from Puno to Cusco, Peru, 23 January 2017

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One Response to Murder on the Andean Explorer!

  1. Elaine Holman says:

    Fab-u-lous!!! I was right with previous post – wish there were bigger smiles from you intrepid travellers!!! Am now going to read next post … am being corrected as it was Agatha … ooops …