Recife, Pernambuco, Brazil

Everyday Essentials: Cusco

November 29th, 2013 | Posted by Brianna in Dogs | Everyday Essentials | Peru | The Places We've Been

This is a series detailing some of what appear at first to be more mundane details of a place, but will hopefully be illuminating as insights into the grind behind the “glamour.” 

Power and Internet

Power and internet have been shaky again this month after a few consecutive moves without problems. We’ve lost power a handful of times over the last couple of weeks, twice for extended periods of time. The first outage occurred after a bulldozer that we were watching work from our 5th floor window in the construction zone across the street hit a power line and knocked out electricity to few surrounding blocks early one afternoon. The workmen stayed in the lot until they fixed it at 10PM. The second long outage seemed to effect only our building and took a full day before we were back up and running. Naturally, when the power is out, so is the internet. Even with power, we’ve had a few days where the internet is either maddeningly slow or just drops every few minutes. We won’t complain too much though. When the internet is working well, it definitely meets our needs.

Power Outage

Our building during the "our building only" power outage. The Germans who are staying the floor below us had some pretty impressive back up lighting!


To be honest, we’re still not entirely sure how most people in our neighborhood handle their drinking water. The tap water is certainly not drinkable (and also, a few hours of every day there’s just no water coming from our faucets at all), but unlike most of the places we’ve stayed without potable water, there doesn’t seem to be a normal system of containers for purchase. The grocery store a couple of blocks down the hill sells refills of 20 liter containers, but our check out girl laughs at us for how often we buy them and we’ve never seen anyone else do so. On top of that, Ian has to carry the giant container of water back up the hill every couple of days. In some countries we’ve stayed in, there have been delivery guys that roll through and swap out empty containers for full ones, but we’ve never seen that happen here either. Our guess is that people must be boiling their tap water to make it safe for drinking. This would certainly be cheaper (20 liters of agua pura here is S./12 or $4.32 USD, more than double what it was in Mexico and Central America), but we’ve avoided that path for two main reasons. One is because it is time consuming, and we drink a lot of water. Between two humans and two dogs and all of the rice, beans, and soup we make, we would spend all day boiling water in the two tiny pans we have. The second reason is because the tap water leaves a white residue on everything, especially after it is boiled, and that just weirds me out. I mean, I do hail from the town that officially boasts the world’s best tap water.


There are a couple of decent sized markets in Cusco, but we don’t live near any of them this month, so instead we do our shopping at a few different grocery stores. We’re definitely challenged this month to make due with what we can find as the places we buy our groceries have relatively limited selections, especially in terms of items we’re used to. We often base our meals on local goods, but are able to supplement them with familiar supplies (for example, peanut butter, nuts, coconut milk, soy milk, etc have all been readily available until this month), while this month our neighborhood’s selection has pushed us to try some new sauces and combinations that have turned out quite well!

Street Dogs

Granted, we’re in a residential neighborhood well east of the centro, but there are a lot of street dogs in the surrounding blocks. Most of them are pretty cordial; they lay in the doorways of the shops of their owners or hang out lazily on the sidewalks. Everyone once in a while you’ll see a pair happily wrestling with each other or a single scavenger digging through some trash. At night though, the streets get mean for a roaming pup. We know this because we can hear it. Terrible dog fights and yelping every few nights as we fall asleep. For our dogs, it means unfortunately limited time outside. We take them down to the bathroom twice a day, where they go on the small patch of grass directly in front of our building, and we’re lucky to have a rooftop terrace where they can play (under strict supervision so that Maya doesn’t jump) as well. Ian seems to think that the dogs are mostly harmless, but that’s probably because they don’t chase him while he’s working out. Even a puppy tried to bite my heels. Thus, my newly developed fear of dogs.

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4 Responses

  • Judy Robinson says:

    It does sound like life there is not as pleasant as some of the other places you have been. I would have trouble with the water, but I imagine you learn to adjust to what is available. But the dogs, Bri, would definitely turn me off. Do you carry a big stick?
    We spent some time with your mother yesterday, Ian. Well, actually, both of your mothers. It was a nice Thanksgiving Day, but we always miss you, of course. See sayd she ws going to be talking to you later. She looked good.
    See you, Love, Grandma

    • Brianna says:

      I think it’s fair to say that while this area around the Sacred Valley is absolutely incredible for visiting and experiencing, Cusco hasn’t been our favorite place in regards to the “daily life” type stuff. Not terrible, but not the best either. I’m glad I’m not the only one who sees the trouble with the dogs! We learned many miles ago that most street dogs will run away if you pretend to pick up a rock (unfortunately, it is not uncommon for them to have things thrown at them). I tend to just go with avoidance and have found a nice street to run back and forth on with the laziest of dogs and also a fair amount of people around. Honestly, most of the dogs are really sweet, but I can’t deny that I have let the fear in.

      So glad that everyone was together on Thanksgiving. We had mounds and mounds of potatoes and missed you all tons. Love you!

  • Sam says:

    Ah, the eternal quest for drinkable water! You know, the one thing that amazed me most when we came back to Europe at the beginning of this week was THERE’S DRINKABLE WATER EVERYWHERE! AND IT’S FREE! Sitting down at a restaurant and they automatically bring you water – such a luxury! I’ve never taken water for granted, but I appreciate it even more now.

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