Cusco By Night and How Not to Get Pick Pocketed


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While visiting Cusco, Peru a few weeks ago Kongo wanted to get some night shots of the Plaza de Armas in the center of the old city.  This was going to be a bit of a trick because there are lots of people on the square who want to sell you souvenirs you don’t want, shine your shoes, or pick your pockets.  

Kongo was worried about taking a night shot alone because he would be focused on what was going on in the viewfinder and not maintaining proper situational awareness.  So he enlisted the help of some traveling friends who were to “stand guard” and keep the little kids, hawkers, and others away while the monkey focused on taking a few pictures.  One of these guardians was a retired NYC cop so Kongo figured he was in good hands.  Afterward we would all head for dinner.

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So things were going well enough for the first photo.  That would be the second photo in this post.  Kongo slowed the shutter speed down to get the headlights of the passing cars to make nice white lines and it was a long enough shutter speed so that the people walking on the sidewalk didn’t become ghosts.  Kongo’s protectors were having a good time and perhaps getting a bit too relaxed.

So the monkey moved to take the first picture in this post, a fountain in the center of the plaza.  As he was setting up he heard a shout from behind and suddenly a little Cusco street urchin had wrapped his arms around Kongo’s waist pretending to give him a big “Welcome to Cusco” hug.  Well, Kongo immediately spun around, pushed the youngster away, checked his pockets, and gave the little one his meanest monkey grimace which caused him to move off.  Turns out the guardians were too busy playing with the ex-NYC cop’s collapsible baton to notice the little boy zooming in on Kongo.  After Kongo was safe, the erstwhile protectors rushed in to finally provide closer protection.  The little boy went to his parents who were sitting nearby and they directed him toward less protected tourists strolling through the park.  Sad but true.

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In any event, Cusco is a great place to take pictures day or night but just make sure your guardians stay close.

The little adventure made for good conversation at dinner where one of the group ordered cuy, a Peruvian delicacy.  If you didn’t know already this dish is actually a guinea pig.  Yup, one of those cute little guys you get for your kids at Petco.  This one was skinned and fried and when served looked a bit like a splayed rat.  Kongo declined the opportunity to have a taste (the monkey doesn’t eat pets) but Greg the diner (Greg turned out to be one of those guys who will eat anything and everything) swore it tasted just like chicken.  Of course it did.

You can see more of Kongo’s Peru pictures here.

Travel safe.  Have fun.

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