The apartment we rented for our four week stay in Cusco, Peru is a one bedroom unit on the fifth floor of a building across the street from a university a few miles east of the city center. It consists of three rooms: a large, bright combination living room/dining room/kitchen space, a long bedroom, and a simple bathroom. The place has its ups and downs, and I think a pro/con approach might be the best way to describe it.
Pro: The entire front end of the apartment is an almost floor to ceiling window, allowing for a lot of natural light and great views over the east end of the city. Two panes open, allowing for a nice breeze when the sun gets warm.
Con: The giant window is pretty rickety and includes some cracked pieces. A couple of panes are held together by duct tape. Rain seeps in and so does every noise on the street. We didn’t open the window pieces for the first couple of weeks because they were stuck, and we feared pushing too hard would send a wall of glass down onto the sidewalk below.
Pro: The location of our apartment outside of the centro allows us to experience more of Cusco’s daily life; there are very few, if any, tourists in our neck of the woods. We’re just a block from the main drag through the city, and while there is nearly constant traffic from the university, there is still a nice neighborhood feel. Homes and daycares, small restaurants and tiendas, lavandarias and hair salons are all within a block or two.
Con: It takes about 30 minutes by combi (vanbus) to get into the centro when desired. When there are no seats and we take standing space, poor Ian is so tall compared to most Peruvians that he has to hunch over and ride with his head tucked down for the journey. People stare at the weird giant.
Pro: Water pressure in the shower can be really great as can the temperature of the water itself.
Con: The water doesn’t work at all for many hours each day. Hot water seems to have been a gift for the first half of the month and only returns intermittently. Also, the toilet reeks.
Pro: The bedroom is large, allowing lots of space for yoga, baggage, and sorting laundry. There is an openable window to outside, and the abundance of comforters on the bed keep us very warm, even when the mountain nights get cold. The headboard is actually a sticker that looks like a plush, leather headboard. I include this as a pro because, well, it’s a headboard sticker.
Con: There are a number of windows in the bedroom that open to the building’s 5th floor hallway. A curtain covers them, but it is light and can be seen through (good thing we’re not too modest!). At night, the motion lights in the hallway turn on whenever someone is on the stairs or in the hall, lighting up our dark room like the middle of a sunny day.
Pro: We have a kitchen, a working washing machine, and a clothes drying rack that we can use on the building’s sixth floor rooftop terrace that works fabulously and leaves our garments smelling summer fresh.
Con: The kitchen is small, with no oven, two burners, and a limited amount of cookware. This really isn’t a huge negative for us and has been the case many times during our travels, but it did have some impact on what and how much we could make for Thanksgiving dinner. Potatoes it was! Regarding laundry, my only qualm is that if I don’t check on our drying clothes before the afternoon winds pick up, I have to collect my underwear from all across the public terrace (and sometimes the street below). Yeah, that happened.
Pro: The decor is unique. In addition to our sticker headboard, we also have single strips of wallpaper sprinkled throughout the apartment and some flower sticker embellishments on the walls and refrigerator. In the living room, the strips of wall paper are grass. In the bedroom they are pink swirlies. Beautiful, zigzagged wood flooring adds to the character of the space.
Con: Most certainly the world’s most uncomfortable chairs and “couch”. Our backs need a reprieve.
Pro: Compared to staying in the centro, our apartment was relatively inexpensive. Surely a traveler who just showed up and started hunting for a place, who didn’t have our requirements of dogs and good internet, or who could simply stay in a hostel could find a better deal, but in our search before our arrival, most places were well over a thousand dollars for a month and ours was a few hundred less.
Con: Compared to staying outside of the centro in Cuenca, our apartment is relatively expensive. In Cuenca we paid $380 for a month. In Cusco we’re paying $780 for a month. Also, when we tried to talk to our landlord about the small problems of no electricity or water for hours each day, she was super unpleasant. So that’s fun…
Pros: I’ll end on some pros that don’t have corresponding cons, because what Negative Nancy wants to end on cons? On the first floor of our building is a fabulous cevicheria where we can both eat lunch for around $4 total. Two nice German folks have been staying in the apartment below ours and while they’re more acquaintances than friends so far, we quite like them. The trash can in the kitchen has a nifty system in place that opens the lid for you when you open the cabinet door. The hand soap provided smells quite lovely. And last, but not least, we have a great view of beautiful mountains, storms rolling through, and airplanes as they come and go that we enjoy each day while we work from home.