Sunday, July 3, 2016

Cuzco, Wild Dogs, and Other Things

Plaza de Armas, Cusco

So Cuzco is a very popular spot for tourists to make their base and acclimatise before visiting Machu Picchu. We opted to stay in the less elevated location of Ollantaytambo but we did spend one night in this popular location while heading back to Lima. Driving through the city itself is a bit depressing since it boasts very narrow streets, broken down vehicles, some very shady looking establishments and an endless number of wild, ravenous looking dogs scavenging their next meal among the copious piles of garbage and refuse lying on the side of the road. There seems to be a shocking lack of garbage control in this particular city and the smell could be a little powerful.

Plenty of garbage and stray dogs.
To be safe, we stayed in the central square, Plaza de Armas, which is obviously kept up for tourists. Unfortunately, walking a few blocks in any direction did make our group a little uncomfortable and we stayed within eye-site of our hotel as soon as the sun set. At one point we had to walk down a dodgy looking pathway and were followed by a very scary looking stray dog that was weaving back and forth, had froth coming out of his mouth and definitely looked to me like he could have had the starring role in Cujo!

Bought the SIM card here.
My only real negative experience in Peru happened in Cuzco. I tried buying a SIM card for my iPhone at a local phone store and the whole process seemed rather complicated. After purchasing the SIM, I was sent to a small, shady looking kiosk where I paid for my data and the woman was supposed to top up the phone. After a couple of days, I realized she had actually just programmed some cheap plan for facebook and probably pocketed my money. I went back to the same phone company on our way back and managed to finally speak to someone who seemed to be in charge who took me back to the kiosk to have the correct plan added.
Sent me here to have SIM activated.
I ended up spending at least 3 hours dealing with these people and they weren't even the slightest bit embarrassed that I had caught them trying to scam a tourist. I understand trying to make a living but situations like that always put me off a destination!

Loreto Boutique

Loreto Boutique reception.
On the positive side, we did have a terrific meal but this was after being swarmed by the "come into my restaurant" hawkers that at times seemed more numerous than the people looking for a place to grab a bite! We also stayed at a very nice hotel called the Loreto Boutique which had a handy Starbucks, with terrific WiFi, right beside it!

Church of the Society of Jesus, Cusco

View of Plaza de Armas at night.

To sum up, I would only recommend staying in Cuzco for a night and definitely head on to more comfortable locales as soon as possible!

A couple of videos just to get the feel of the place!

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