Peru has always been on my travel list, mostly for Machu Picchu. Honestly, I knew very little about the country before I started planning this trip. I knew where Peru was, that Lima was the capital, that Cusco was the other capital, of the Incas and Machu Picchu – but that was really it.
We learned so much while planning this trip and even more on it. Here are a few of my observations so far:
Lima is HUGE! Lima has 8.5M people which, depending on what source you a use, that’s the same size of New York City. Who knew?
Lima knows food. Three of the world’s Top 50 Restaurants are in Lima…and we are going to all of them. We’ll be hitting Central and Maido for lunches and Astrid y Gaston for dinner.
They speak “Tim Spanish”. I took 3.5 years of Spanish in High School, then switched to German in college. In Mexico, Puerto Rico and the US I struggle understanding spoken Spanish. In Spain and now in Peru I can understand about 80% of what is going on. I may not get the exact words, but I can follow the conversation (the English language tour of Cusco was offered exclusively in Spanish – I learned a lot and understood so much more than either Mike or I thought I would). The Peruvians (at least the ones we’ve dealt with and I don’t just mean hotel workers) have spoken slowly and perfectly enunciated each syllable, so even a dolt like me could get by.
It’s polluted. The air is thick with vehicle exhaust. Cars are spewing visible clouds of toxins as they venture down the road. Even newer model cars are often leaving a trail of grey smoke behind them. As we sit in the courtyard at our hotel in Arequipa, the area fills with exhaust making the otherwise beautiful area toxic.
Plumbing issues. Most places we’ve visited here have the small waste bin near the toilet where you deposit your soiled toilet paper. I know, I know…this isn’t an unheard of phenomenon, but it still grosses me out. Especially since I had some stomach issues at Machu Picchu. I will be forever grateful for our robust American plumbing.
Potatoes. There are more than 4,000 types of potatoes cultivated in Peru. The potato is a staple of Peruvian meals and it is common to see a meal with both rice and potatoes.
Beauty. The natural surroundings are utterly breathtaking. The mountains appear to rise almost vertically. Glaciers atop these mountains are easily seen as the cloud cover is limited. The sheer beauty is astonishing.
We are off to Bolivia tomorrow for about half a week and return for a final couple days in Lima. I am excited to see the differences between these two countries and to see what fantastic new things I experience in and around La Paz.
What shocked you about Peru / Bolivia? What about other countries you’ve visited? Has something come as an utter surprise once you were boots on ground? Anything I should keep my eyes open for in Bolivia?