PEPeru

Peru

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PeruPeru

In a Land of Grapes and Witches

When I decided to make the 5 hour bus ride to Ica for the second time this summer I expected to soak up the hot sun of the Huacachina oasis, take a refreshing dip in our flower-trimmed exotic pool after which I would then make my way through the lime ... read more

Christina  Baker

PeruPeru

El Parque Kennedy and the Circle of Life

 If you are going to live in Peru for a long period of time as a wandering outlander, you better well like it. However the life of a vagabond is not always full of adrenaline-rush-water-rafting-paragliding-mountain-climbing fun. I was warned by many fellow adventurous wayfarers before my Peruvian journey of the ... read more

Christina  Baker

PeruPeru

Food, Places, Prices, Culture

This is my blog about living in Southern Peru. Full of info, and photos. Enjoy. peaksandpitfallsinperu.blogspot.com   read more

Jason Sweat

PeruPeru

Grand Cavern

 (endFEB2009)“Want to go to the Grand Cavern?” I asked my travel companion, after we had finished taking in the breathtaking serenity that the top of Wayna Picchu has to offer.   “Sure,” he replied.   Little did we know that the hike to the ‘grand cavern’ would lead us on ... read more

Michelle Saltis

EcuadorEcuador

PeruPeru

Armed Guards and Markets with Pig Heads

(Beginning MARCH2009) For a moment I thought that we might not survive more than a few feet into Ecuador. The taxi driver that was to take us to the Peru-Ecuador boarder kept stopping along the road trying to tell us that we had to wait for his friend to come meet ... read more

Michelle Saltis

PeruPeru

Surviving Perurail

(endFEB2009) We were heading back from Aguas Calientes, where Machu Picchu is located, on the blue train belonging to Perurail. It was 5pm, and just starting to get dark out. I nestled in for the three-hour journey ahead of me, ready to go to sleep as soon as I made ... read more

Michelle Saltis

PeruPeru

3 days of buses and weird poop policies

(endFEB2009) I am a very patient person. Many who know me might disagree with this statement, but, not knowing me before my three-day bus excursion, they are quite wrong. Just see my impatience as it is now and imagine it to be a lot worse. This is how I got ... read more

Michelle Saltis

PeruPeru

The Most Beautiful Place in the World

 (endFEB2009) We had already hiked the long and steep path that had been carved into the mountain centuries ago by the Mayans that lead to the top of Wayna Picchu. The journey upwards seemed a never ending array of slippery steps with no rail to keep one from falling off. ... read more

Michelle Saltis

PeruPeru

Usha Usha, a Farewell Lesson from a Wise Cajamarquino Bar Owner

So, this is it. My half-year in Peru is coming to an end – no doubt the fastest and most action-packed 6 months of my life. When I think back on the best memories I've had of this country, they always start with people. I've been fortunate enough to be ... read more

Courtney Ng

PeruPeru

Criollo Culture 101: My Re-education in Carmen

I'm not going to lie -- if I had been asked 6 months ago what a Peruvian looks like, I most likely would have given the stereotypical answer of “an indigenous person.” Being in this country for just half a year has unwound everything I thought I knew about Peru, ... read more

Courtney Ng

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PeruPeru

Where I have been thus far!

I started my travels abroad in April 2008, and so far I have been to eight countries: France, Germany, Canada, Peru, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Belize, and Mexico. (I have also lived in California, New York State, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. I have been to Florida, Utah, Nevada(VEGAS baby!), Vermont, Connecticut, ... read more

Michelle Saltis

PeruPeru

The Day I Realized I Love Lima

Lima isn't the kind of city tourists spend weeks visiting. It isn't a particularly beautiful city, or a well-organized city, or even a very safe city, for that matter. The sun hardly ever shines and the pollution is enough to make you worry about lung cancer after a few weeks ... read more

Courtney Ng

PeruPeru

This is the Only Time You Will Ever See “Efficient” and “Peru” in the Same Sentence.*

I've been in Peru now for more than months, and if there's one general rule of thumb I've learned about how things work here, it's that every task requires an average of 3.5 more steps than it should to complete. Let's explore a seemingly simple example: you need a copy ... read more

Courtney Ng

PeruPeru

How to Bake Coopcakes in Peru, AKA 'Mas o Menos' Baking 101

I thought I could escape Halloween this year by being in South America, until my host family informed me that Halloween had crept down into Peru in the 70s, and in recent years, had become a big thing – costumes, parties, trick or treating.,.the whole shebang.   So, I decided ... read more

Courtney Ng

PeruPeru

Who You Callin' a Llama? When Good Camelids Go Bad...

I've seen dozens of llamas so far in Peru. Or maybe they were alpacas, or vicuñas, or guanacos...I can't really be sure because up until writing this blog post, I hadn't really tried to hard to learn the difference between them. There's a reason I'm starting now, and it has ... read more

Courtney Ng

PeruPeru

Walmart On-The-Go, or Strange Things Sold on the Streets of Peru

Learning how to shop efficiently in Peru takes some getting used to, but one rule of thumb comes in handy when doing so: if you want it cheap, buy it on the street. Supermarkets and fast food chains exist here, of course, but they tend to be slightly more expensive ... read more

Courtney Ng

PeruPeru

"Why Are Your Eyes Like That?" On Being Asian American in Peru

Having been raised in the very racially diverse metropolis of New York City within the politically correct United States, I came down to Peru somewhat unprepared to deal with one aspect of Peruvian society -- racism. In Peru, racism isn't a highly debated topic, and racist comments permeate everyday discussion ... read more

Courtney Ng

PeruPeru

Pasaje, Pasaje – The System that Shouldn't Work...But Somehow Does

I have a confession to make: I, Courtney Ng, a born and bred New Yorker, a girl who was practically raised on subways, who does not have a driver's license and rides in cars less than a dozen times a year, am finally recovering from a sudden case of combi-shock. ... read more

Courtney Ng

PeruPeru

The Day I Finally Bought My Crazy Gringo Pants

Walking through a Cuzco market is an exercise in will power. After visiting many times and buying lots of souvenirs for friends and family, I still felt that there was one thing I had always wanted to buy for myself but resisted for their seemingly tacky nature – crazy gringo ... read more

Courtney Ng

PeruPeru

The Road Less Traveled By (Unless You Need a New Visa)

Last week, I realized that my Peruvian visa was about to expire, so I nonchalantly looked into my options for renewing it – and realized they were pretty crappy. I could either go to the Immigrations office in Lima and pay $70 for a student visa (not including a fine ... read more

Courtney Ng

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Books

"The Last Days of the Incas" -- relive the Inca empire's demise

Courtney Ng

09 Nov 2009

Peru

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Courtney Ng

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Lovers of flowery nonfiction need to get a copy of Kim MacQuarrie's "The Last Days of the Incas." MacQuarrie tells the story of the Inca empire's demise with incredible cinematic detail, planting readers so firmly in the story that they forget all of the book's events happened 500 years ago. Reading this book while working on Inca ruins in the Andean cloudforest was one of the most riveting reading experiences I have ever had. You'll be genuinely disappointed when the story ends -- but then again, visiting any of the sites in which the story is staged will only make you want to pick it up and read it all over again.

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Getting Around

How to stay safe on the streets of Lima

Courtney Ng

04 Dec 2009

Peru

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Courtney Ng

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You'll hear it a dozen times before you get to Lima -- "but it's dangerous!" Yes and no. Lima is a big city, and like in all big cities, crime is common. But the good news is that most crime is petty theft, which means that keeping yourself safe is mostly a matter of keeping a close eye on your belongings. A few easy tricks: keep your personal belongings on your lap in combis and under your feet in taxis (robbers are known to break windows and reach in to grab your belongings). Always sit behind the driver when riding in a taxi so as to keep yourself safe from the driver, and never get in a taxi that just has a taxi sticker on the window. Look for a company logo, along with permit stickers, to ensure you're getting into a legit taxi.

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Festivals & Events

Celebrate Independence Day the Wong way

Courtney Ng

16 Oct 2009

Peru

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Courtney Ng

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One of Peru's biggest supermarket chains, Wong, throws a huge Independence Day celebration on July 28 every year in Parque Kennedy, Miraflores. The festivities include a massive parade with Chinese dragons (never thought you'd see those in Peru, eh?), fireworks, and tons of performances. It's the Macy's Day Parade of Lima. Just watch your valuables -- big crowds mean lots of pickpockets.

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Culture Shock

Bus bathroom etiquette

Michelle Saltis

03 Dec 2009

Peru

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Michelle Saltis

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I went on a three-day bus adventure from Cusco, Peru to the Ecuadorian border. Most of the buses only let you urinate in the bathroom on board, so if you have to... take a twosie, you have to ask the driver to pull over, which they are usually NOT happy about at all. And most places where they stop don't have toilet paper. So bring your own!

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Must Do

Star gaze while sailing down the Amazon

Courtney Ng

09 Nov 2009

Peru

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Courtney Ng

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The only way to reach the Peruvian jungle is via boat or plane -- there are no highways to Iquitos, the capital city of what Spanish-speakers know as the "selva." When friends and I arrived in at the lodge after a day of flying and boating our way into the wild, the tour guide offered us the opportunity to go on a nighttime boat ride down the river to look for caimans (a type of crocodile). Despite the fact that we didn't find caimans, we saw so many other incredible things that I forgot we had gone out that for any other reason than to gaze at the bright South American night sky. While we admired the twinkling sky, leagues of tiny frogs hopped around us and exotic bird calls bounced off the silence. Unforgettable.

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Etiquette

Get in the habit of greeting -- all the time

Courtney Ng

10 Nov 2009

Peru

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Courtney Ng

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"Buenos días." "¡Hola!" "¿Cómo estás?" Get used to hearing and using these phrases multiple times every day, because Peruvians believe in greeting each and every person they encounter -- from the bus driver to the neighbor they've never really met. At first it can feel as though you're wearing these phrases out, but not saying them is taken as a sign that you are angry, sick, or just impolite. Another not-so-common but just-as-useful phrase: when you are eating and you hear someone say "¡Provecho!," the polite response is "¡Servido!" This is the Peruvian way of saying "Bon appetit," or "I hope your meal is great!"

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Food

Juice up your journeys!

Courtney Ng

12 Nov 2009

Peru

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Courtney Ng

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One Peruvian cuisine custom I am determined to take home to the States with me is the tradition of drinking fresh juice with every meal. A Peruvian meal is not complete unless there is fresh-squeezed orange, lime, papaya, maracuya, or some other delicious tropical fruit gracing the table. Juice bars in small towns make some of the most intriguing "special" juices, which usually include ingredients that would taste horrific on their own but somehow work magically together. So my advice -- try every juice you encounter... you never know when you'll find your new favorite flavor!

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Packing

Bring something for every season

Courtney Ng

19 Dec 2009

Peru

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Courtney Ng

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Part of what makes Peru such an exciting place to visit is its diversity, especially in landscapes. Peru, of course, has the Andes running right through it, which means many really incredible sites are at high altitudes where the weather is cold and dry. However, it also borders the Pacific Ocean, carrying winds and lots of sunshine, and has a huge chunk of rainforest in the east, bringing on the humidity. This essentially means that you can encounter any kind of weather -- from humid to dry and cold to hot -- by driving just a couple hours in any direction. Be sure to bring layers, rain gear, plenty of sunblock, and a mindset for embracing the variable climates you're bound to encounter. Hey, it's part of the adventure!

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Religion

Explore the diverse faiths of the Andes

Courtney Ng

05 Dec 2009

Peru

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Courtney Ng

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Catholicism is the dominant religion in Peru, but it can't compete with the diversity of the religious traditions and practices of native peoples in the Andes and rainforest. There are hundreds of different cultures present, each with their own unique spiritual beliefs. If you want to take a neat cultural journey not too far from Lima, check out the week-long Fiesta de Agua in San Pedro de Castas, a small town three hours away by bus from the capital. It takes place each year in October, and consists of celebrations and ceremonies that the Quechua-speaking people of the town carry out as they clean their water canals and honor their gods. If anything, the mountain views alone will be a religious experience.

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Politics

Understand the complex history of the armed conflict

Courtney Ng

12 Nov 2009

Peru

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Courtney Ng

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Not long before the tourist boom that started bringing hoards of foreigners to Machu Picchu, Peru went through a serious and traumatic internal conflict. The terrorist group the Shining Path murdered close to 70,000 Peruvians, the vast majority of them poor farmers. Today, it's hard to believe that this occurred only in the past quarter-century, because Peruvians don't talk about it much and asking can feel intrusive. Still, it's important to understand the social and political factors that led to the violence, and realize that many of these problems are still plaguing Peru today. To learn more, I highly recommend watching the documentary "The State of Fear," which offers a comprehensive, sobering look into the tragic history.

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Music

Learn to embrace the songs that get on everybody's nerves, everybody's nerves

Courtney Ng

29 Oct 2009

Peru

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Courtney Ng

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I've become convinced that all radio stations in Peru have a set list of five pop songs they replay over and over again throughout several months. At times it can feel like your head might explode with how repetitious the radio gets, but remember that there are lots of other unique styles of music in Peru: criolla, or Afro-Peruvian influenced; la chica; and of course, huayna, which might make your ears bleed if you listen for too long. The point is that there is diversity in Peruvian music -- you just sometimes have to hunt it down.

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Sports

It's all about Alianza Lima

Courtney Ng

04 Dec 2009

Peru

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Courtney Ng

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I don't particularly like soccer, but it's impossible to escape "fútbol" (Spanish for "soccer") here. One of the biggest soccer teams is Alianza Lima, a team of Afro-Peruvian players. It's particularly uplifting to see them play, because it's one of the rare occasions where Afro-Peruvians are honored in the public arena. You can check out the Classic, the biggest game of the season, in March.

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Fashion

Wear your knock-off clothes with pride

Courtney Ng

05 Dec 2009

Peru

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Courtney Ng

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When I first arrived in Lima and saw young people rocking every type of name-brand clothing from Ralph Lauren to Glo by J.Lo, I couldn't help but wonder where they got the money to pay for such expensive clothing! Soon I realized though, that it is ALL knock-off clothing. Peruvians don't seem to be brand-focused much, however, they just wear what looks good. The place to find all the knock-off stuff? Gamarra or Polvos Azules, two markets built around pirated products. Be sure to go with a Peruvian and keep a close eye on your belongings, though, because both are located in somewhat dangerous neighborhoods.

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Dating

Sorry, but your friendship is outside my budget

Courtney Ng

05 Oct 2009

Peru

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Courtney Ng

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Be wary of "bricheros." A "brichero" is a Peruvian slang word for a person (usually men, but sometimes women too) who want to spend time with a foreigner to get something out of him or her (money, free drinks, connections). I once received a Facebook message from a guy at my university who seemed really interested in helping me adjust to classes and living in Lima. Then I checked his Facebook friends and noticed they were almost all American females. Can anyone say "Remove from friends?"

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Health

De-carb every once in a while

Courtney Ng

15 Oct 2009

Peru

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Courtney Ng

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If there's one thing that can be hard to adjust to when it comes to Peruvian cuisine, it's the disproportionate amount of carbs. Rice, potatoes, bread, rice, empanadas, alfajores, rice... did I mention rice? Because it's in EVERY dish. Don't get me wrong, I love rice, but at times it seems to dominate meals so much that fruits and vegetables become "treats." The trick to getting your fair share of nutrients is to frequent the fruit carts on corners all over Lima and avoid the rolling "carb carts" that compete with them. Peru has a ton of great fruits (chirimoya, maracuya, avocado) and veggies (tomatoes, corn, rocoto) available, so explore, chow down, and de-carb every once in a while! Your waistline will thank you later.

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Slang

Playful plata: Keeping your change straight in Peru

Courtney Ng

16 Oct 2009

Peru

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Courtney Ng

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The first time a cobrador (bus conductor) asked me for a "china," I recoiled a bit, not yet used to people referring to me by my race. Later, I found out that a "china" is a slang word for 50 centimos, and a "luca" is not another word for "loca," but for one Nuevo Sol (the Peruvian currency). My Chinese friend and I like to jokingly call each other "the other half of my luca," since two chinas equal one sol. It's also useful to know that when someone says, "No tengo plata," they don't mean that they're lacking silver. "Plata" is a commonly used term for money.

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Nightlife

Take advantage of Lima's diverse hotspots

Courtney Ng

05 Dec 2009

Peru

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Courtney Ng

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The beauty of being in a cosmopolitan city like Lima is that there's something for everyone -- and that is true of the nightlife scene as well. For great bars, check out Calle Berlin off of Parque Kennedy in Miraflores. For 80s rock music and salsa spots, Barranco is the place to be. Sargento Pimienta is one of the more popular spots, but make sure you show up before midnight because the line to get in gets insanely long. Help! plays alternative and rock music on Thursday nights, and turns into Mr. Feesh on Saturdays, breaking out the reggaeton. If you're willing to throw down some big bucks, Aura and Gotica in Larco Mar are great spots to find a good mix of salsa, rock, and 80s all in one.

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Being an American

Leave the Umbrella at home

Michelle Saltis

30 Nov 2009

Peru

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Michelle Saltis

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Walking the streets of Peru, with my umbrella, I was laughed at and called a Gringa by the locals. In Peru, a heavy wool poncho is worn instead of an umbrella, so I suggest that when one is traveling in Peru they leave the umbrella at home.

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