Cusco, Peru: Death in a Cold Shower?

The following is an excerpt from our original blog when Bill and I backpacked around the world to 23 countries. We were gone from July 6, 2006 to July 6, 2007.

July 13, 2006


A few thoughts on our stay in the cozy town of Cusco, Peru:



Showers

In the United States, we often take nice, warm showers. It is usually safe to assume that hot is hot and cold is cold and we can have any variation in between. This is not so in Cusco nor presumably many places in Peru. In fact, taking a shower here usually means one of two things:

  1. You are going to be very, very cold

  2. You are going to get electrocuted

Allow me to explain. Back at home, we sometimes want a cold glass of water. We also often have to put an ice cube or two in our drink to get it to the perfect temperature. The faucet just does not get cold enough to suit most of us. In Cusco, many showers border on the coldest cold that I have yet to experience. Warm water = freezing. Ice cube freezing. In these instances, I usually find myself sponge bathing rather than fully submerging. Bill is better than me at taking such showers.

And now for the electrocution piece. In homes and certain buildings, the hot water came after general plumbing. And the water is literally heated right before it comes out of the shower by a set of electrical wires that hang above the shower head. To work this type of shower, you must first turn off the water and then flip a fuse/switch that is usually hanging somewhere nearby. Often, this means that you have 20 seconds or less of lukewarm water before it goes freezing again. See the picture below:


A picture of a showerhead that is wired with two dangling wires above it and next to an outlet.
Showerhead on left and heating element on right!

Now here’s the tricky part. You must unclip the switch / fuse prior to turning off the water. If not, you will shock yourself. It happened to both of us, and it was mildly unpleasant. It didn’t hurt but scared the bejeezus out of us. I explained the process to Bill and he STILL did it the wrong way.


Needless to say, last night we dished out some cash for a hotel with a warm shower. It was amazing.


Enjoy modern plumbing while you have it,

Chrissy and Bill



July 14, 2006

Stray Dogs

Stray dogs are everywhere. What’s particularly strange about this is that there are very few mutts. Most of the dogs are purebreds (at least as far as we can tell). So far we have seen four homeless boxers and lots of labs and other cool types. It is sad because many are hungry and very thin. Yesterday, I shared a piece of pizza with one of my new friends. He was very polite and didn’t beg. He just sat patiently near my daypack. I wasn’t going to feed him for fear of more of his friends, but finally, I couldn’t take it anymore. Once he finished, he politely walked away and that was that.

House Security

Stop it with a Schlage…or a Bag o’ Glass

Having talked about the dogs, I feel that I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the lack of cats. There are definitely some cats, but not very many. I think it’s because of how Cusqueñons protect themselves. Between each house is a fence. And on that fence are cacti and glass. We’re talking really big, sharp pieces of glass. A couple of not-so-lucky cats may have stumbled (pun intended) onto this and the word must have gotten out.



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Cheers,

Chrissy and Bill