Today November 11 it is exactly two years and three months that I settled down in Cusco after leaving my unforgettable birthplace, Lima. By coincidence, this morning I have also moved in to my new apartment. It is somewhat difficult for me to believe that in such a short span of time I have moved six times so far.
It was not that I had any kind of trouble with my former landlords even though I have to admit that once a landlord fired me of his house giving me an explanation that I could not help regarding it as very naive.
The Naive Excuse
He told me that he needed the room I was renting on the first floor because he was about to build a new bathroom on the second floor just above mine. The funny thing was that the house had already two bathrooms on the first floor. Three bathrooms is too much for seven rooms lodging only singles and couples, isn´t it? Anyway.
Eventually, the landlord´s request might have had something to do with the building of a new luxurious hotel next to his house which is located just 4 blocks off the main square. The five-star hotel is still under construction (open mid 2013), and as far as I know the landlord has not built anything on the second floor. By the way, one of the bathrooms was well-built even with tiles on the walls, hot water, and the door was padlocked.
On the contrary, the other one was precarious with a shower with only cold water. And imagine what was the worst of all? Yes, dear reader! some tenants including me were allowed to use only the second bathroom.
In fact, cold water here in Cusco is kind of cruel punishment for a limeño like me accustomed to warm water even during the summer months in Lima.
Do You Think I Am A Little Bit Picky?
You may be right but take into consideration that I have lived in Lima almost all my life and the very city itself is not higher than 100 meters above sea level, and for practical matters Lima features only two seasons: summer from the end of December to March, and winter the rest of the year.
On the other hand, the city of Cusco is located on the Andes over the 10,000 feet, and the average temperature is 7 degrees Celsius. Of course, that is nothing for a guy from the northen hemisphere, but a burden for a guy from the Peruvian coast. As one colombian tourist told me: taking a shower with cold water here in Cusco is just insane even though doctors claim it is great for the heart. Come on!
Not One But Two Reasons
As a matter of fact, it has been two reasons which made me change rooms so many times so far.
The most important reason was the cost or rate of the rent. Sometimes, I ended up down and out due to lack of job so I had to look for an appartment far away from downtown, and it happened to me twice that I had to live on the hills that surround the city. In those cases, the rent ranged from 50 to 70 soles which means roughly 20 and 25 US$ per month with light and water included. Yes, included!
In addition to cold water, the other drawback in this case was the 20 or 30-minute hike in order to get my room. After months of moving from a neighborhood known as Primero de Mayo (First of May), I was told that it was rather dangerous. I was really lucky since I never dealt with any trouble despite the fact I used to hike that hill late at night.
The other reason, in contrast, happened when I got a job, and then I prefered to be the closest to my workplace which in all cases was located around or near the main square. In that case, I had to pay between 120 and 200 soles (roughly 40 and 70 US$) per month including utilities but a shared bathroom without hot water. I wonder how much I must pay to get rid of that cruel punishment.
By the way, a foreign guy would pay no less than US$120 per month for a room in downtown which it is a great deal if you plan to stay longer in order to work or study. However, you can even find rooms for rent as cheap as 10 soles per night even though they may have bad reputation as the so-called hippies usually rent these rooms (unfortunately they all are associated with the use of drugs).
There is still another kind of agreement in Cusco that as far as I know it does not exist in Lima, not under this name at least: anticresis. It is an agreement by which the landlord gives you a property (apartment or house) in exchange for the tenant´s money for a period of time. After that period, the landlord gets his property back, and the tenant also gets his money back. What a great deal, isn´t it?
Now I am again four or five blocks from the main square on a second floor with a bathroom on the first floor shared by three other tenants. As I am not able to get accustomed to the cold water punishment, I came up with a plan: register at a gym just one block off the main square so that I will indulge myself with a hot shower from Monday to Saturday even though I would merely pretend to make exercise on the treadmill. On the other hand, I can face cold water once a week on Sundays pretty well.
The Expected Query
So far you may be wondering why I decided to move from my lovely birthplace Lima to Cusco if I am so picky about the cold water and considering that in Lima I did not have to endure that problem (and I do not talk about the lack of heating which is a luxury only granted to tourist accommodations). All in all, that is a long story which, with no doubt, has something to do with my trips around Perú, and Lima was the starting point.
To be continued…
In the meantime, would you tell me any story when you rented an apartment?
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