One of the benefits of full-time travel is that you can slow down (despacio en Español) and really get to know a place. I had the luxury of doing this in Peru last month. I spent almost seven weeks in this beautiful country and was able to see quite a few places I can now say are some of my favorite spots in the world. Cusco was probably my favorite- I did spent five out of the seven weeks there, after all.
Like any other foreign country you visit, Peru had a few “quirks” that stood out to me and sometimes made me laugh. So….I had to share with you.
ADORABLE children everywhere.
There really are so many kids running all around Peru, specifically Cusco, and they are so cute. It’s very clear that Peru has a strong family mentality and the kids feel safe to roam around town. But where I come from, that would be not only frowned upon but probably illegal. Unaccompanied children would imply the parents are negligent, which I don’t think is the case in Peru at all. It’s just their way of life.
There are stray dogs on every street of Cusco, roaming around like the own the place. The strange thing was that they didn’t look “stray” at all. Most of the dogs looks well fed and some of them groomed. Maybe they’re the ones babysitting all the little ninos?
Pisco EVERYWHERE (even in chocolate liquor at Choco Museo)!
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Peruvians can DRINK, let me tell you. I couldn’t even keep up, and I’m American- the nationality known for excessive behavior and gluttony.
Gentle people, CRAZY drivers.
It’s the strangest thing. Peruvians face to face are sweet and gentle mannered, but get them behind the wheel and they get aggressive! Muy loco! Every place I went in Peru had an ongoing sound of honking horns, swerving vehicles and screaming drivers. It’s actually a bit stressful walking around- you just have to be VERY aware of your surroundings and careful crossing the streets.
Shania Twain played in strange doses…
The first song we heard in the taxi when we arrived to Cusco? “I feel like a woman” by Shania Twain. We got to our hostel and what was on? THE SAME SONG. Then, everyday for the next month that we stayed here the hostel played this song on a playlist that looped it twice each time the playlist ran through. But the Shania didn’t stop there. I heard it out at restaurants, in taxis and at other hotels and hostels. What in the Shania Twain is going on here?! Listen, I’m American (I’m even from Redding, California, where country music is the anthem of daily life), but this was a little much. Let’s mix it up a little shall we Cusco? If you love country so much, Little Big Town perhaps? Tim McGraw. SOMETHING else. ANYTHING else!
I am fully aware that many places in the world have two set prices: one for tourists and one for locals. I get it, I do. But in Peru, the pricing is quite literally ALL over the map with zero consistency. The same item could vary between 100-300%. You could walk into one corner store and be quoted $8 for shampoo, for example, then go into the store next door and get quoted $2, while the one across the street is charging $3.50. Needless to say, in Peru you need to spend quite a bit of time shopping around in order to get your money’s worth.
(Sometimes) Strange Food
Apparently Peruvian food can be considered quite a delicacy in many countries. Some dishes are delicious, and others left me very confused. This one, for example, was served cold with vegetables so hard you couldn’t chew them. The locals munched on anyway. I guess we really are spoiled back home on the produce front!
While all of these things made me chuckle to myself, the also added to the experience. I wouldn’t change a thing about Peru– truly. It’s a beautiful country, with wonderful people and an energy you should experience yourself. (Just watch out for those loco drivers!)