Quiet, clean, cheap, and central yet out-of-the-way little hostel-slash-guesthouse, situated in Cusco's trendy and eclectic San Blas neighbourhood. I checked in to this place (on the recommendation of Jesus) after leaving my host family today, and I'll be here on-and-off for the rest of my time in Cusco. It seems to be almost empty — I've got a 6-bed dorm all to myself — and this is probably due to its being very basic, and to its location at the top of a big hill, which can only be climbed on foot via a flight of steep steps.
Most tourists who come to Cusco do their shopping at only a few central places, such as Gato's Market, Mercado Central, Mercado San Pedro (for the slightly more adventurous), and the shops in or near the Plaza De Armas. But if you stay in Cusco for a while, the locals will soon inform you that the only real place to shop is at El Molino. It's not in Lonely Planet (not in mine, at least — ostensibly too far away and too dangerous). It's not near the city centre. But it has everything you could possibly need, from shoes to DVDs, and from seafood to sunglasses. And all at rock-bottom prices. El Molino is the black market of Cusco.
In Western countries, we're accustomed to Internet cafés being overpriced, limited to the city centre (and other commercial hubs), and really only used by tourists. This is because the majority of people that need it in these countries, have it installed in their homes, so there's simply no demand from the locals. But here in Peru, very few people can afford a PC or an Internet connection at home; and so cabinas (Internet cafés) have become a way of life here. They aren't around because of the tourists: they're around for everyone.
If you don't have your own private transportation (e.g. car, bicycle), there are basically three ways to get around in Cusco: taxi; combi (minibus); or on foot (in order from most to least expensive). Being the parsimonious and aware-of-the-long-road-ahead traveller that I am, I prefer to take the final option whenever possble. I like the concept and the good value of the second option as well. However, local economics, local culture, and occasional lack of time mean that I've taken taxis in Cusco far more often than I would normally.
Cusco is a city where you can book anything you want; and today, I had a fair bit of stuff to book. In fact, I did so much shopping around and booking today, that it took up most of my first day in Cusco. I booked a river rafting trip for tomorrow. I booked a month of Spanish lessons and homestay. And I confirmed my booking for the Salkantay hike next week.
So far in my travels, I haven't really done the whole buy-groceries-and-eat-frugal thing. It's been cheap as it is, eating at restaurants and at hot-food street stalls. But with Pesach coming, I decided that I have to stock up on some unleavened supplies to keep me going for the next week. So this morning, I popped into a supermarket in Miraflores, and did some basic shopping.