Now you´ve made it to Peru! Bienvenidos! Here are 5 tips for keeping safe, getting a great bargain and enjoying the exciting cultural nuances of Peru that may be completely new to you. Enjoy your study Spanish in Cusco Peru experience and your trip to Peru and all the new experiences it brings!!
Look both ways!
When you are crossing the street, be aware! Traffic rules don´t always apply here in Peru the way they do in the countries that you may be used to. Just because the semáforo (traffic light) is red, it does not necessarily mean the car will stop. Just because the vehicle is using it´s right turn signal does not necessarily mean the driver plans to make a right turn… keep your eyes open and pay attention as you navigate your way through Peruvian traffic on foot!
About money in Peru!
Keep small change handy. It doesn’t matter where you are in Peru…if you try to pay with a 50 sol note or sometimes even with a 20 or 10 sol note, the shopkeeper often won´t be able to make change. Sometimes he or she will even pass up a sale because they can´t change your bill! Other times they´ll walk around town looking for change for you while you stand in their shop waiting and wondering where they went and if they´ll be coming back. This is normal in Peru! Try to have small bills, or, even better, coins, on you at all times! You can change your money in Peru from USD or Euros to Peruvian soles at many locations around Peru, and these same locales will break your Soles down into smaller denominations. Be prepared! Haggle!
It´s customary — the Peruvians expect it and not only that, they respect you for it – and it is also a great way to practice your Spanish skills! There are tons of little artisan markets in Peru and you can get great deals on things such as hats, scarves, alpaca sweaters, bootlegged DVDs, actually you name it and you can probably find it! While it may seem that you are getting a bargain to begin with, don´t let yourself be ¨gringo-priced.¨ Start at half of what they originally said and work from there!
Try the local Peruvian cuisine!
Peruvian food is gaining worldwide popularity and for good reason! Everyone knows that you can´t live here without trying the cuy in Peru (guinea pig)…it’s prepared in restaurants with the tourist in mind but the locals prepare and eat this dish on special occasions — so give it a shot! When in Rome, as they say… Beyond cuy, there are lots of other Peruvian dishes worth trying…alpaca burgers for example! And if you aren´t feeling super adventurous and willing to experiment with an unfamiliar animal, you can taste the famous Peruvian ceviche…fresh seafood marinated in lime juice and served with sweet potato, lettuce, corn, avocado or plantain! Also the Causa Limeña is generally a big hit…Causa, in its basic form, is a mashed yellow potato dumpling mixed with key lime, onion, chili and oil…yum! And it is usually served cold with hard boiled eggs and olives.
Drink the coca tea in Peru! Coca tea has a 3000 year medicinal history!
It is composed of dried leaves from the coca tree, seeped in hot water and drank by the locals (and tourists alike) to help combat the effects of the high altitude! Locals also chew right on the leaves; feel free to try that too! Don´t worry, this is 100% natural and has not been processed in any way that would turn it into an illicit drug.