Travelling to a new country is almost always an incredible experience. Of course there are things you can read on the internet, then there are nuances you figure out only on getting to a new country. Familiarising ourselves with these little cultural and social idiosyncrasies is one of our favourite parts of travelling to a new corner of the world.
It’s only when one travels to the place, talks to locals, acquaints oneself with the rhythm of life in a new country that one learns the nuances of a culture. Here are 10 Things we found out while travelling in Peru for a month:
- 1) There are over 3000 varieties of potatoes in Peru. You’ll find everything from wild potatoes and sweet potatoes (camote) to white potatoes (papa blanca) and purple potatoes (papa purpura). What’s more, Peruvians have potatoes with every meal. Egg and potatoes, sausages and potatoes, bread and potatoes…. the list goes on!
- 2) Bus travel in Peru is more comfortable than you think. We were quite apprehensive about travelling on buses within Peru because we’d read horror stories on the interent. But bus travel in Peru is convenient and surprisingly comfortable. If you choose well, you could end up with reclining seats, snacks on board, and blankets. Buses are also heavily air-conditioned, so make sure you carry woolies and socks with you (even if you’re visiting in the middle of summer!)
- 3) Food habits? Peruvians from the jungle (rainforest) LOVE their white rice and can’t dream of having a meal without it. White rice is a staple at lunch and dinner. Even breakfast is white rice and fried eggs 🙂
- Elsewhere in Peru, Guinea Pig is considered a speciality. The cute rodent is on most restaurant menus in the country.
- 4) In Peru fruits and vegetables taste sublime. They’re mostly organic, yet extremely affordable. Everything from passionfruit (grenadilla) and oranges to bananas and custard apples (chirimoya) tastes incredible but Peruvian avocados are like no avocados you’ve had before. They’re velvety soft and taste sumptuous. Fruit so good, it’s almost sensual 😉
- 5) In Peru, used toilet paper is meant to be thrown in bins and these ‘bins’ are often uncovered, even in luxury hotels. Without sounding derisive, we’ll just say it takes some getting used to. Don’t worry, we won’t include a photo for this one 😉
- 6) If you need something done in Peru, you’ll have to pick up the phone and make a call. More often than not, emailing just won’t do!
- 7) Peruvian handicrafts are some of the most colourful in the world. I never shop while travelling but Peruvian dreamcatchers, bags, shawls, and ponchos seduced me good and proper. One of my favourite places to shop was the Central Artisan Market in Cusco (Centro Artesanal Cusco) on Avenida Del Sol. For the best deal, bargain loads and better still learn a bit of Spanish.
- 8) Peruvians of Incan descent have jet black hair well into their 90s – no kidding! Teeth decay, the spine begins to curve, but the hair stays as black as it was in their 20s. Talk about amazing genes! 🙂
- 9) Chakana, The symmetrical Incan Cross symbolizes three worlds: the upper world, everyday world, and underworld. Peruvians worship Mother Earth and in keeping with this, the Chakana denotes the organic cycle of life. You’ll see it on buildings, monuments, clothes, trinkets, and jewellery. Peruvians string it around their necks too – you can’t go anywhere in Peru without spotting a Chakana or two!
- 10) Quinoa, Chia, Kiwicha (Amaranth) that are all buzzwords of the health food industry at the moment. As most of you probably know, these grains are sold in precious little bags for a whole lot of money in organic stores all around the world. But all these grains are Peruvian staples. They’re sold in huge piles on the roadside and used for soups, stews, and breakfast cereal. We even tried banana coated with quinoa!! If you’re a health-nut, you’ll LOVE Peru’s local markets 🙂
What’s the one thing you’ve learnt while travelling? We’d love to know 🙂
Travelling to Peru? Read our Ultimate Guide to Planning a trip to Peru
Are you a foodie? Read our guide to eating in Spain
Planning a trip to South America? Read all our posts on South America here