Captive in Cusco

The protests in Peru paralyzed the transportation system in Cusco.

I came back from Machu Picchu on Monday, December 12. Our bus let us off early because protesters were marching through the square we were headed to.

I knew the downtown well by then and skirted around the main Plaza de Armas square to my hotel.

The next day it was very quiet in the city without cars, taxis or buses. They quit working in solidarity with the protesters or the threat of having their vehicles damaged.

The only noise was small horns, noisemakers and chanting back to someone on a megaphone.

People that I’d seen arriving in Machu Picchu town on Monday afternoon woke to find the mountain closed. They would be stranded in the town for days because protestors pulled up some track. Eventually some were evacuated by helicopter, small railway workbeds on a long roundabout route, or attempted to walk the 50 km back to Cusco.

There was a police presence around the square where the protesters congregated.

But there was no sense of danger. Lots of tourists and locals hung around and just watched.

Wednesday felt different. Saw broken glass from a car window.

Uncollected garbage and stray dogs aren’t a good mix but that only lasted a day. It made me realize how clean the city usually was.

Most businesses around the square had closed early in the week, but started seeing more closed on Wednesday.

The restaurant I went back to looked closed, but other guests led me in through another door, and through the kitchen.

The protesters were hassling businesses to close and join them.

Sitting inside and hearing the protesters felt weird!

Thursday the government declared a state of emergency banning demonstrations, but they still came.

The airport opened and transit started again on Friday.

By Friday most shops were open but looked ready to close quickly.

But during this whole time the streets were full of people and it felt very safe.

My hotel was just north of downtown on the hillside, with little streets, hotels, restaurants and shops.

My hotel door was secure and comfortable.

I also had great food.

Breakfast, as well as eggs cooked to order.

The hotel apologized that their ‘cooker’ had not been able to get to work because of no transit.

Doesn’t that word make sense! People who bake are ‘bakers’, people who farm are ‘farmers’.

My little restaurant where I went for the ‘menu del dia’ at lunch. Soup and a main for 12 soles ($4.25 CDN)

Chicharrón de pollo

Ajiaco de Olluco

Lomo salado

This was a student’s breakfast I was curious about as I saw people walking by eating. It is very typical on a street corner. Freshly peeled warm potatoes, boiled eggs and different sauces (mayonnaise and a hot sauce made from local ajies). I had always had my breakfast so never got to try it.

Looking down on Plaza de Armas

After a few days of no cars, it was back to cars having to reverse. Never found out who had to back up!

Lots of time people watching in Plaza de Armas.

Many high end hotels in old monasteries. The concierge invited me to look around.

During all of this I was trying to plan my escape. I had a bus that kept canceling. I had plane tickets I couldn’t use. And had to keep buying new ones because the customer service lines were jammed.

When I heard the airport was opening, and I could find a taxi, I started trying to book online. Whenever I got to a certain point, I got an error message. When I went back in, the flight was gone.

Even when I successfully paid, all the seats were taken. I was holding my breath until I actually checked on!

I’ll have to make up a spreadsheet of refunds to track!

After many new plans to go to Arequipa, then Lima and south to Paracas, I decided to leave Peru for now. The places I wanted were closer to the epicentre of trouble.

My plan is to fly to Lima, stay overnight at the airport in case taxis stop again, then fly to Quito, Ecuador the next morning.

After losing five days here, I’m flying to Quito a week early. So making new plans for Christmas!

At the airport I met a young couple from Switzerland who had arrived for a few days in Lima, flew to Cusco just to be stranded for a week. They were now headed to Chile as an alternative. So I count myself lucky.

Flights all day to Lima with every seat full!

Celebrating in Lima with a Pisco Sour and ceviche.

And now I’ve just arrived in Quito, Ecuador. Time to celebrate again!

Until next time Peru!

15 thoughts on “Captive in Cusco

  1. Oh my goodness Leslie! You are so very brave! What an experience you won’t forget! So glad you got out and hopefully the rest of your trip won’t be quite as challenging.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Even with the protestors, it still looks amazing. I still think you’re a brave lady and I’m glad you’re out of there now and safe. Canadian government has been telling travellers not to go there. Merry Christmas 🎄 🎅 Leslie! We’re looking forward to seeing you early in 2023.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. An American at my hotel said he felt safer in Peru than home! I never felt unsafe but didn’t want to get trapped again! Merry Christmas to you as well! See you soon!


  2. Hy, i follow you on your website,and my conclusion is: East Europe are more safety with the war at the door then all protest in Latin America, anyway I wish you a merry Christmas 🎄 and hope see you soon again. Merry Christmas and happy New Year 2023.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Glad to know you made it safely out of Peru. It’s cold and snowing here today so hope you are enjoying a more temperate climate. Stay safe.


  4. What an adventure! I’ve been wondering if you were caught in Peru’s unrest. Your photos, as always, are simply amazing. Stay safe, and Merry Christmas! Renée Roberge


    Liked by 1 person

  5. Glad to hear you were able to move on safely, Leslie. I am really enjoying reading about your travels. Love the food photos! Merry Christmas 🎄 and stay safe. ❤️
    Snow ❄️ is so bad here today my husband’s cataract surgery was just canceled 😩 but just as well we don’t have to venture out in it. 😳

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Mary Lou! Cusco was a lovely city to be stranded in! And now I’m working out a new route in Ecuador because I’ll have more time. Doors close, doors open….
      Keep warm!


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