The alarm clock rang; it was four o’clock in the morning of July 31. The excitement hit me as I hopped out of the warm bed and got dressed. Finally, I would fulfill my long–cherished dream of visiting Machu Picchu, the lost city of the Incas. It was the first stop of our four week tour through Peru and Colombia. My brother Mario, my friend Lourdes, and I made our way from Cusco to the town of Ollantaytambo where we would catch the 6:40 a.m. train to Aguas Calientes, the closest train station to the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Our booked seats were in the second to the last compartment of the train run by the company “Inca Rail”. As we got on the train, the train attendant helped us to our assigned spots: “Your seats are on the left.” During the next 40 minutes we kept looking out the window and were enjoying the spectacular views. The Urubamba River running through the fields. Rugged mountains overlooking the valley. Stone houses sitting against the dominating backdrop of the Andes. Due to a protest by people standing on the tracks the train had to stop. After a while the protest was cleared and the train continued on its route. We were happily having our breakfast and chatting about the interesting history of the Incas.
All of a sudden we heard a loud bang and felt a strong impact on our train. My brother and my friend crashed into the table in front of us. They received scrapes on their arms and knees. Within seconds water was coming down from the ceiling and we all jumped up to hurry to the other side of our compartment. A terrible sight met our eyes: the floor was completely buckled, the seats had become loose, the wooden tables were broken, a woman with a bleeding head was lying on the floor, and a girl crushed between seats was screaming in pain.
My brother, my friend, and I instantly folded our hands in prayer and asked God for His protection and guidance. “Your seats are on the left.” I heard the train attendant’s voice in my mind saying. Slowly we realized it. Sitting on the left side of the compartment had protected us and saved our lives. “Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life. […] with your right hand you save me.” (Psalm138:7)
My brother then rushed to help the injured people in our compartment while my friend and I managed to get off the train. It turned out that another train had collided with ours from the back and about 30 passengers had been injured. The accident happened in a remote place. No road, no town nearby, only the Peruvian rainforest. While some people were patiently waiting for any news or instructions from the train attendants, others were nervously bustling around. We, however, were feeling peace in our hearts. Profound peace. Peace of God which surpasses all understanding. (Philippians 4:7)
After five hours of waiting we could finally continue our way to our final destination in the first part of the train which had not been damaged. With thankful and relieved hearts we arrived at Aguas Calientes and planned our hike to Machu Picchu for the following day. We praised the Lord for being with us in every moment during the situation that occurred before our heads hit the pillows of our comfortable hotel bed.
Manuela Di Franca