Last weekend was our first post-baby night out. I haven’t been this excited about staying out till 10:30 since I was 14!!!
At the end of the day, people are people no matter where you are. Like any new parents we’ve been overjoyed with our new baby, but also quite overwhelmed. Patricia has been doing a great job taking care of our wawa, but after 10 months just to be able to go out for a few hours without the baby was a big event for us.
Patricia’s mom was kind enough to watch the baby for us while we went out to get a bite and a drink downtown at the Plaza de Armas here in Cusco.
I took a walk through Calle Procuradores on the way home last night. Procuradores is a narrow street on the NW side of the Plaza de Armas in Cusco. There are a lot of small bars and restaurants on Procuradores, but to locals it’s known as the bad part of the Plaza de Armas because it’s the main hangout for the small-time drug dealers who peddle “weed” and cocaine (“Charley”) to the tourists.
Calle Procuradores seen from the Plaza de Armas, Cusco
Calle Procuradores, Cusco
Calle Procuradores looking towards the Plaza de Armas
Unfortunately local authorities don’t do anything to clean up Procuradores. I imagine plenty of kickbacks keep the status quo in place. It’s sad really, that people who come to a beautiful place like Cusco, with all of its attractions, entertainment and nightlife, still feel the need to fry their brains with cocaine to have a good time.
A friend of mine, alias “C”, was in town for a visit last week. Check out his story, a must read. While your visit will (should) likely be much more uneventful, his account gives you a good idea what to expect in Cusco from the viewpoint of a young, single guy.
“C” is absolutely right that visiting the tourist areas of Cusco and Machupicchu does not constitute knowing Peru.
Service in the tourism industry here can be mixed, to say the least. Sounds like “C” got the typical treatment on the city tour: because you’re a gringo we’ll nickel-and-dime you to death.
Last I checked (about a year ago) you could buy a “city touristic ticket” for around 25 Nuevos Soles, and it gives entrance to nearly every tourist site around the city (including Sacsayhuaman). Instead of taking a city tour, just take a walk around the city yourself. “C” posted a pretty good list of places to see in Cusco on his blog.
I like Sacsayhuaman, but I agree listening to the tour guides can bore you silly.
Around the Plaza de Armas and San Blas you do find a ton of “gringos” in the bars and discos. But the residential areas where you can find bars and discos packed with mostly locals are only a few blocks away. Best to go in a small group though.
Sicuani is really not the smallest, poorest town around. It’s actually pretty representative of a provincial Andean town. If you really want to know how people live in the Andes of Peru, just take one of the local busses (like “C” did) and talk to some of the people. The bus “C” took was not for poor people per se, it’s what ordinary Peruvians use to travel in the provinces.
Your visit should by all means be less eventful than “C’s”.
If you do get in trouble, there is a “tourist police” agency on the Plaza Tupac Amaru.
Don’t drink like you’re at home. The elevation in Cusco is 3,460 meter (~11,000 feet), or about twice as high as Denver. Being away from home, combined with thin air, alcohol and bricheras makes for some wild scenes at the nightspots in Cusco.
That’s right, I don’t mean people from small villages like Accha, but The Village People, the 1970s disco band of “YMCA” fame.
Now Cusco has great nightlife, with live local bands playing bars and discos around the main square and in San Blas. But since I’ve been here, no big name bands have performed in Cusco, which is really surprising considering the amount of culture, history and fun-seeking tourists in the city.
Here’s my wishlist of rock ‘n roll bands who really, really, really ought to come and play in Cusco:
1) Bruce Springsteen. Fresh of his superbowl performance here’s a chance for “the Boss” to prove he’s really all about working people: play a free live show on the shores of Lake Titicaca during 4th Continental Summit of Indigenous People. Have some cervezas with Evo and fly back home to tell the bureaucrats at the State Department that Evo’s not all that bad after all.
2) Mark Knopfler. Just once I want to hear Love over Gold (translation: the reason I’m here) live.
3) Paul Simon. Supposedly Paul Simon spent some time in Cusco. He made the Peruvian song El Condor Pasa famous in the West in 1970, and consequently brought attention to Peru long before tourism here became mainstream. Plus, he’s from New York so maybe he can bring along some people who know how to make real pizza.
4) Peter Gabriel. You’re going to be in Lima later this month, why not take the 1 hour flight to Cusco and play a small gig here?
5) Last, but not least: what could be more Peruvian than this?
“The mountains and the canyons start to tremble and shake,
the children of the sun begin to wake.”
Led Zeppelin!!! The band was more into symbolism than any other I know, and Cusco is full of the symbolism of the Incas. Come on guys… I will make arrangements for you to play at Sacsayhuaman during Inti Raymi, the traditional midsummer celebration of the Incas, what could be more mythical than that?
One of my all time favorites, Jungleland, just begging to be performed in the jungle of Peru: