by Jim and Melanie
The cost of living in the central part of most cities tends to be higher than around the fringes. It is no different in Peru. Our first two days were in Lima. People who come from the more rural areas to find work in Lima most often live in the outskirts of the city. It has an urban population close to 9 million. The metro population is over 12 million. The topography around Lima is not mountainous and allows the city to spread out.
Cuzco is in a mountainous area. The population is about 435,000 and confined to a valley. New arrivals from rural areas looking for homes and work tend to live on the surrounding steep hillsides. Click this image for greater detail of the hillsides.
On the far side of the valley, homes can be seen up the hillsides all around Cuzco in this panoramic. Zooming in on a section revealed stairs in a neighborhood marked in red and white. Many of the homes appeared only accessible by walking. A road seems to run along the top of the ridge. Click for more detail.
We drove down through a similar neighborhood upon our return to Cuzco from a day of touring. This shot from our bus suggests the steepness of the hillsides.
Another view of the hillside neighborhoods was from a Google Streetview car. The route it took included a dirt road that twisted and turned to match the terrain. Notice the structure in the right image. Building methods include concrete posts with rebar rods. Walls are made of adobe blocks. The rebar posts are left exposed in many buildings we saw to allow for future floors. Strong earthquakes will destroy many of these hillside buildings. The last major quake in Cuzco was in 1950. Peru is in an active zone
One of the first pieces of advice from Walter our tour leader was about crossing traffic when we are walking in the cities. He strongly stated that pedestrians do not have automatic right-of-way. The many buses, trucks, and small cars in Lima and Cuzco made crossing streets a challenge in some places. There were crossing signals in many places, but not everywhere.
We stayed three nights at the Jose Antonio hotel in downtown Cuzco. Our third floor room overlooked the intersection directly below. During the busy morning and late afternoon commutes, traffic got a little crazy. Five busy streets came into the intersection. The lights were timed but not all drivers followed the rules. One morning we watched as this traffic jam developed. It came to a complete standstill for quite a while until a uniformed officer arrived. She got the mess untangled and remained for a while to keep things under control.
Would you like to read more about our travels in Peru? Here are links for all our posts on Peru:
Peru | Lima | First Impressions
Peru | Textiles and Ceramics
Peru | Arts & Crafts
Peru | Pisac & Ollantaytambo
Peru | Machu Picchu
Peru | Tipon and Sacsayhuaman
Peru | Beer Bar – Oxen – Blessings
Peru | Hillside Homes | Traffic Woes
Peru | Everyday Life
Inca Pot | c 1500
Noon @ Ollantaytambo
Peru | Machu Picchu Plus Much More