Cusco, not dangerous enough! [35/50]

Some people travel forever on predefined routes (and not just geographically). It’s not that the places they go are necessarily breaking bad, it is just that there are always many more options. The herd goes to Galapagos when Manu is possibly better. The crowd goes to Rio when Puerto Maldonado has far less rabid street dogs (to bite you on the ass) and more wild, unique animals (that bite your ass in a unique way). One of the world’s most revered conquistadors, Warren Buffet, once said that the key to making money through investing is to figure out what everyone else is doing and do the opposite. This hackneyed ditty could also be applied to travel, figure out where everyone else is going and then do the contrary, and the wealth of the world will open up to you. Cusco, in Peru, is somewhere between these two extremes. It is safe enough for Norwegians, yet still obscure enough to keep away the modern hedonists (and it is not that Cusco is dangerous, it is that it is not dangerous enough!)

Cusco was the largest city in the Incan empire and has numerous ruins throughout the city, usually consisting of intricately carved stone walls in alleys or weird-shaped stones forming the foundations of Spanish churches and grand civic buildings. It has some decent museums and galleries and a lot of tiny cafes where I have been spending my days drinking strong coffee and eating cakes and imagining how intrepid that I am.

I have been in Cusco for one month, which is not that long in Andean time, and have hitting the travel narratives (Jared Diamond, Paul Theroux, Graham Greene and David Mitchell), exploring the nearby valleys and Inca ruins on my moto and getting to know the city and its duo-cultural inhabitants (Andeans and Europeans). The colonial core of the city is where all the tourists go, but the outskirts are where all the Peruvians live, in an aspirational-Modernist, half-built apocalypse with lots of fried chicken shops, sort of like East London. I have been residing in a beautiful sunny apartment in the chicken shop district of Cusco and have found a good supermarket, so for the first time in 8 months, I have been able to control my intake of hormones (I was beginning to grow breasts).


Like many South American cities, the core of Cusco is set around a large civic square adjacent to many narrow, cobblestone alleys full of time-killing cafes and dark, deserted bars frequented by the occasional instrumental tourist looking for something but not finding it. The San Blas area of Cusco is touted as the area for bohemians, but the likelihood of meeting a bohemian in San Blas is about the same as spotting an Inca!

In the evenings, I usually go to a bar overlooking the Plaza de Armes (central square) and look for a lonely soul to discuss travel with (just add Pilsner). I have met some nice people this way although the longer I travel, the more protective I become of my finely polished travel lens. But then again I need to figure out what the majority of travelers in Cusco are up to, so I can do the opposite!



One response to “Cusco, not dangerous enough! [35/50]”

  1. Karen Avatar

    Love the photo of the local with the lamb under her arm

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