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South America » Peru » Cusco » Cusco November 28th 2020

Saturday, 21 November, 2020 The Ausangate trek started at 4am today! Well, the drive to the trailhead started at about 4am. We didn’t actually start walking until about 10am. The drive from Cusco to Ocongate is over 3 hours. We had breakfast in Ocongate and bought a few last minute supplies. Another half hour up a dirt road and we stopped where our arrieros were already getting the horses ready. Arriero is usually translated as horseman, the person who owns and cares for the horses on a trek. Rather than the usual backpack trip that I grew up with in the US, when you carry everything in your backpack, including your tent, sleeping bag, food and clothes, we had opted for what tourists in Peru normally do: hire porters or horses. It seems extravagant, compared with ... read more
First campsite
Upis Lake
Green Lake

South America » Peru » Cusco » Cusco November 21st 2020

Sunday, 15 November, 2020 Today was so overwhelming I don’t even know where to begin. Covid is definitely not the top story right now. The whole country has been protesting for a week now, which finally convinced most of the new cabinet to resign. A majority of the cabinet resigning forced Merino himself to resign today at noon. There were already protests planned for today at 2pm, in response to the url=https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/nov/15/interim-president-of-peru-steps-down-after-two-protesters-killedpolice killing two young protesters yesterday. Merino’s resignation just two hours before protests were scheduled to start certainly calmed some of the anger. Instead of demanding that Merino step down, the protests were left with their secondary purpose, to hold a candle-light vigil for the two people killed and to protest police brutality. I stayed h... read more
The neighborhood junta
Covid still rages
HJK is open!

South America » Peru » Cusco » Cusco November 14th 2020

Sunday, 8 November, 2020 239 days since Covid was first diagnosed in Cusco Trying to train for the Ausangate trek in two weeks, I went for a 7 mile hike today. I’ve been wondering what the burn from early October looks like up close - and if anything is starting to regrow yet. I blogged about the fire while it was happening and you can see photos on my Week 30 blog. As with any hike around Cusco, you start at high elevation and just keep going up. My phone recorded my elevation gain as equivalent to climbing 159 flights of stairs. The highest elevation we get to on the Ausangate loop is just over 17,000, so I really can’t train enough. It is a little comforting to know that I am able to run at ... read more
The big burn
Wildfires and Covid
Loss of habitat

South America » Peru » Cusco » Cusco November 7th 2020

Sunday, 1 November, 2020 Today I was invited to a birthday party and learned that here people have birthday cake in the morning. You start the day with singing happy birthday, have breakfast together, eat cake, then go on about your day. Breakfast here is also quite different from the breakfasts I was used to in the US, France, Morocco and even Istanbul. For most Peruvians, there is very little difference between breakfast and lunch. In Cusco, in touristy areas, you can get coffee and toast and scrambled eggs for breakfast, but if you are walking in non-touristy neighborhoods, the breakfast available at restaurants is likely to be chicken and rice. This morning we had adobo, which was cooked with pork. I asked for a bowl of just the adobo broth, without a chunk of pork. ... read more
Andean Mot Mot
Birdwatching along the train tracks
Female Gallito de las Rocas

South America » Peru » Cusco » Cusco October 31st 2020

Sunday, 25 October, 2020 226 days since Covid was first diagnosed in Cusco Tourism is back! After over seven months of being shut down, Machu Picchu will open in one week! Even better, for the first two weeks, it will be free! Unfortunately, all of the free tickets for Machu Picchu are already gone. What is left are free permits to hike the Inca Trail from KM104, which does take you to Machu Picchu, but you have to walk there. There are obviously a lot more people who want to take the train to Machu Picchu than who want to walk there. Getting permits to hike from KM104 ended up being more complicated than I thought it would, but I did manage to get train tickets and Inca Trail permits for myself and six friends, with ... read more
VOTED!
Pan wawa
Panes caballos y wawas

South America » Peru » Cusco » Cusco October 24th 2020

Sunday 18 October 219 days since Covid arrived in Cusco The rains have finally arrived! I woke up to a rainy morning in Urubamba, the kind of rainy morning that makes me hum the lyrics “I’m only happy when it rains” by Garbage. Being born in Seattle is not the only thing that makes me love rain, the hills around Cusco which have either been either yellow with dry grass, or black with wildfires, will soon be green again. It was a light, steady rain that hopefully will soak the hills without causing any mudslides. The heaviest rains in the Cusco region are in January and February, when torrential buckets of rain slash through hillsides, washing away towns and hiking trails. Last January 23rd, there was a landslide on the Inca Trail, which killed three porters ... read more
Maya
Ankle biter
New park entrance regulations: hand washing

South America » Peru » Cusco » Cusco October 17th 2020

Sunday, 11 October, 2020 212 days since Covid arrived in Cusco Today something finally happened for tourism in Peru: a Japanese tourist who waited for seven months in Aguas Calientes got to visit Machu Picchu, which is still closed. Conociendo Perú reported on Facebook that the Peruvian government had relented to pleas to let Jesse Katayama visit Machu Picchu. He was accompanied by two photographers, but otherwise had the place to himself. As you can imagine, this made quite a few of my friends here very jealous. Some of my expat friends moved to Cusco on purpose, well before the pandemic, and intended to live here. Several of them are just stuck here and most of those who are stuck haven’t been to Machu Picchu. My former housemate, and current nextdoor neighbor Kerry, intended to leave ... read more
My favorite Machu Picchu shot
Photography by Amanda
I voted!

South America » Peru » Cusco » Cusco October 10th 2020

Sunday, 4 October, 2020 205 days since Covid arrived in Cusco 30 weeks and I’m still in lockdown with an 8pm curfew? This isn’t like Europe, which is facing new lockdowns with their recent flood of new cases. Peru never lifted all of our lockdowns and curfews, even though in July the “quarantine” ended and for a couple weeks the curfew was 11pm. Here in Cusco, our cases of Covid exploded at the beginning of July and by the end of August we had about a thousand new cases per day and about a death per hour. This was a huge shock for everybody, including myself, because throughout April, May and June we had only a handful of cases total. Most days the hospitals didn’t record any new cases and we didn’t have a single death ... read more
Pachecutec in smoke
Strong winds fan the fire
Flames from town

South America » Peru » Cusco » Cusco October 3rd 2020

Sunday, 27 September, 2020 198 days since Covid officially arrived in Cusco People in Cusco are so done with lockdown. Despite it officially being illegal to leave your home on Sundays, except for emergencies, there were a lot of people in the streets today. I stayed home, but out my window watched people strolling down the sidewalks and sitting in the park in the sun. It was definitely fewer people than a normal day, and there were no vendors in the streets, but it didn’t look at all like the past six months of Sundays. I didn’t see any cops drive by until almost 3pm and by then the streets were empty again. We have been in lockdown for so long that people have just had it. In March and April, the cops would roll through ... read more
We take care of our Pachamama
Traces of colonialism
Harvest moon

South America » Peru » Cusco » Cusco September 26th 2020

Sunday, 20 September, 2020 191 days since the first Covid-19 case was officially diagnosed in Cusco In some parts of Peru, this is the last day of full day Sunday curfew. In Cusco, the current outbreak is so bad that none of the restrictions will be lifted here. We still have an 8pm curfew and are not allowed to leave the house on Sunday, except for emergencies. Our numbers for new Covid cases have plateaued and even started to go down a bit, but I’m still staying home as much as possible. This weekend would have been the Canoe Island French Camp board retreat, which we are now doing by zoom. I stepped down from the board when I moved to Cusco, but asked to remain on a couple committees so that I can stay involved ... read more
Some smaller parks are open
No drones
Clear cutting at the Temple of the Moon




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