If you have ever been to Cuzco, you know just how unforgiving the climate can be. The skies have been filled with menacing clouds and heavy rains these past few days (uncommon this time of year) and the temperature has been dipping below zero at night (normal this time of year). Because the water system is solar-powered in many Cuzco homes, a sunless sky has meant running water cold enough to freeze. For me, this has meant seeking solace in my bed and four consecutive days without a shower. Though, I enjoy the challenge and embrace the opportunity to devise creative solutions; for instance, shower by “wetnap.” Besides, what would travel be if not for the trials and tribulations? I believe them to be a necessary part of travel and I am confident that you learn equally from the negative as you do the positive.
Having traveled to parts of Africa, Asia and islands in the Caribbean and South Pacific, I recognize that fair features invite curious/leering eyes. Though, I am surprised that this has been nothing short of true in Cuzco, a town well-visited by tourists and foreigners alike. I find myself all too often the subject of probing eyes and obnoxious honking on the streets of Cuzco. Though, if my time in Brazil has taught me anything, Brazil taught me how to play an aggressive game of eye hockey. Exploring the precarious streets of Rio de Janeiro (a city that sees the devil’s share of violent crime), I learned the necessity of locking eyes with locals, projecting confidence and resilience. This has been a similarly useful technique in Peru, helping to defuse a sometimes uncomfortable stare.
Aside from curious advances, I feel rather secure walking the streets of Cuzco. Peruvians are, for the most part, gregarious and sympathetic. I sure wish I could say the same for cars…My heels have been nearly pinched a few times by aggressive and egocentric drivers. I have quickly learned that four wheels rule the road (and sidewalk) in Cuzco.
My Spanish is improving by the day. I am more confident in my interactions with locals and find myself eager to introduce new words into my vocabulary. Though, I remain humble in my abilities, and welcome corrections and new learnings from children as young as three. Learning a new language, I find, can be exhausting at times. And so, next weekend I have planned a well-deserved break from Spanish lessons – a visit to Machu Picchu!
Note: I am attaching photos taken at a local festival in Cuzco, "El Dia de San Pedro" (The Day of the Saint San Pedro).