Hundreds of tourists stranded at Machu Picchu after flooding

Severe flooding in Peru has caused several landslides that have left hundreds (reports range from 1500 to 2500) of people stranded at Machu Picchu. Many of the landslides happened on Saturday, killing one tourist and his guide, and leaving others stuck in spots along the Inca Trail that leads to the site. The 40-mile railway that connects the ancient site to Cuzco was also blocked by the landslides, leaving tourists stranded and the city’s only hotel overwhelmed as it tries to care for everyone.

According to the UK’s Guardian, helicopters are the only option for getting supplies in and getting people out right now. Unfortunately, the going is slow and supplies at Machu Picchu are dwindling. And, says the AFP, some of those stranded are concerned that others are bribing officials in order to be rescued first. In the meantime, those who can’t find accommodation are camping out by the train station or in the city square.

Over 1300 homes have been destroyed because of the flooding and landslides, which have been called the worst in 15 years. A 60-day state of emergency has been declared.

Venice is totally flooded. How about a cheap hotel and some boots?

You kind of expect a visit to Venice will include some water. This uniquely Italian city, first settled by the Romans along a chain of islands on the Adriatic Sea, has always been inextricably tied to its watery origins. The city rose to prominence due to its wealthy seafaring merchants, and most iconic images of the town inevitably include a canal vista complete with gondolier, happily serenading lovestruck passengers.

Unfortunately, water-loving Venice is for once longing for some much needed dryness. The liquid-loving capital has been plagued for the past two weeks by unusually high tides, leaving many parts of the city like the famous Piazza San Marco submerged under as much as three feet of filthy water. Though the floods are beginning to recede, the municipality of Venice has been coping by erecting tall wooden platforms along heavily trafficked paths and many businesses and cafes are closed or have limited hours.

The city’s floods don’t seem to have dampened the spirits of its hotel owners, however. Ever the entrepreneurs, visitor packages have recently been announced offering special “flood discounts” as well as a free pair of rubber boots for tramping around in the muck. How’s that for hospitality? Room service and a pair of waders.

It’s an ingenious, albeit curious, solution to keep the city’s tourist lifeblood flowing during an obviously difficult time. Flooding is a fact of life in Venice – but the current waters warn of far-more grave issues for this historically aquatic metropolis. As the forces of global warming exacerbate the damage of rising water and cause further harm to the city’s businesses and architecture, Venice is facing some hard choices about the city’s sustainability and its tourist future.

Cockpit Chronicles: Haiti after Hanna

Cockpit Chronicles takes you along on some of Kent’s trips as an international co-pilot on the Boeing 757 and 767 based in Boston.

New on the schedule for us this month is a two-day trip to Miami. The first day is rather easy with just one leg from Boston to Miami. The second day involves a trip to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, then back to Miami and up to Boston.

We’re required to sign in for our trip in the pilot operations room at least one hour before departure time. That give us enough time to check the weather, pull up paperwork and check our mailbox. Even though we ‘sign in’ an hour before, we don’t get paid until we’re pushing back from the gate.

Our pilot operations is a place where you’ll regularly run into captains and co-pilots who you may have flown with on a different airplane and hadn’t seen in years. I ran into my longtime friend Russ on this morning’s trip. Russ and I worked in a hobby shop together in Seattle when we were both in high school, so it’s always nice to visit with him. He’s currently an MD-80 first officer (co-pilot).
While walking to the gate later, I saw Russ checking over his Super 80 at the gate with the sun coming up behind our airplane. I just had to take a moment to capture this shot.

A few minutes later I was inspecting the tires of the 757 we would be flying to Miami. Russ’s flight began to taxi past the tail of our airplane so I pulled the camera from my pocket and snapped him going by. It’s a pain to get up at 2:30 in the morning to go to work but I always enjoy the sunrise at Logan and sights like this:

The morning departure to Miami was uneventful. The original captain was sick, so they called out a reserve captain to cover the trip. He would fly down to Miami with me before getting on an airplane to deadhead back to Boston.

So I was on my own for the layover, but fortunately my friend Dave from Ohio would also be staying at the hotel by the beach. We decided to meet up with the rest of his crew for dinner.

One of the pilots knew a great Cuban seafood place up the street. He didn’t steer us wrong, as the food was fantastic. We sampled appetizers that were rather good before eating the main course of sole, which we were able to inspect before ordering.

It was great to catch up with Dave and meet the other co-pilot on his trip, Joe, who plans to begin commuting from Anchorage, my home town, to Chicago soon. That’s a commute I wouldn’t wish on anyone, but I can understand the draw for some to live up in Alaska. For Joe, it allows him to be closer to his sport fishing business outside of Anchorage.

That’s one of the advantages this job provides; the ability to live just about anywhere and commute to and from your base free of charge. The only cost is the extra time you’ll spend on an airplane each month.

Dinner was great and I hope to go back there on the next layover.

I met the next captain at the gate the next morning for our flight to Port-au-Prince, Haiti. He was a Miami-based pilot who was called out on reserve to continue the trip with me. Occasionally, when one pilot calls in sick, the trip is covered by more than one pilot from different bases.

The weather was nice as we were descending over Haiti, and I was interested to see if the effects of Hurricane Hanna could be seen from the air.

The town of Genaives was the hardest hit and it’s easy to see from these pictures. This is just north of Port-au-Prince as we were coming through 20,000 feet.

What looks like a river flowing out to sea below…

…well, there’s a town in the middle of that river.

Just past Genaives, we were cleared to 10,000 feet, which takes you right by some ‘naked’ mountains which are a big part of the reason for the flooding that occurs in Haiti.

No country in the western hemisphere has had worse fortune than Haiti. They just can’t seem to get a break, and their plight hasn’t adequately captured the attention of the rest of the world.

I’m constantly amazed at how friendly the Haitian passengers and ground crew are. And you won’t find a cabin of nicer dressed people than the Port-au-Prince passengers.

On approach we flew over a U.S. Navy ship which was full of supplies that were being delivered to Genaives. Two of the helicopters based on the ship were idling on the ramp when we parked, and a third one landed by the time we were loaded again for our return back to Miami.

I’ve been flying to Port-Au-Prince for years now and I don’t really feel like I’ve actually been to the country. Arriving at the airport, doing a walk-around inspection and then departing an hour later doesn’t really count, does it?

I even arrived on the day Port-au-Prince was under a coup, but it was impossible to tell from the activities at the airport. Here’s a gallery I made up from that trip:


As I flew back to Miami and then Boston, I couldn’t help think of the challenges for those living in Haiti. If they’re not trying to survive a political uprising, then they’re likely dealing with the aftermath of a major hurricane.

While I can’t say I’ve really been to the city of Port-au-Prince, flying international trips like this has given me a perspective that wasn’t possible when I was working the transcon flight from Boston to Seattle years ago.

We may not get a chance to fly to Haiti for some time, since the airline has canceled the PAP trip that has been flown lately by Boston crews, and I’m not sure if we’ll see the trip come back anytime soon.

Here’s hoping things look a little better for Haiti if and when we go back.

Cockpit Chronicles takes you along on some of Kent’s trips as an international co-pilot on the Boeing 757 and 767 based in Bosto

Flood Update From the UK

It appears that the flood is spreading closer to London. Here is a map of the currently affected areas. Today, some 250 people were evacuated from Oxford.

Friends in the UK tell me that the weather in London has been better in the last few days, so hopefully the Thames will remain tame. Although London has some of the most sophisticated flood wall system in the world, let’s hope they don’t have to use it.

Shoes for the British Summer

I got this photo from a friend in London and thought it was too witty not to share. I wouldn’t normally make fun of another country’s unfortunate weather but since I got this from a London resident, I figured I could.

Although the UK is not exactly known for their sunny summers, this year has been especially wet. As you probably know by now, Central Britain has been swamped by rain and flooding. Tens of thousands have even been left without electricity and running water, thousands fled their homes. Even London (some 80 miles from the areas hit hardest) is not an ideal destination right now – wet, wet, wet! If you are planning to go to London, you might consider rescheduling (or prepare yourself for spending your vacation in a pub.)