My wife, Carrie, and I just embarked on a six month backpacking adventure across South America.

Peru was our first stop.

During our 10 days in Lima and Lake Titicaca, I noticed a lot of things. These are them; this and that.

 

A traditional statue on Taquile Island, Lake Titicaca
A traditional statue on Taquile Island, Lake Titicaca

Tradition & the Peruvian Countryside

Women still wear traditional and colorful Peruvian clothing in everyday life. One example was a local news anchor who wore a bowler hat on air.

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The countryside’s topography varies from lush green mountains to never-ending planes of desert and snow-capped mountains.

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Across Peru’s lush mountainsides, you can spot tiered pre-Incan agricultural terraces. Over the centuries, these terraces have been maintained and are still in use by local farmers.

 

Traditional Pre-Incan terraces on Taquile Island, Lake Titicaca
Traditional Pre-Incan terraces on Taquile Island, Lake Titicaca

 

Many traditional homes have bull statues on their roofs for good luck.
Many traditional homes have bull statues on their roofs for good luck.

Food

It’s great to be back in the land of bistek (thinly sliced and seasoned beef). Mmmm. Nomnomnom.

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Street vendors buy big 2-3 liter soda bottles and sell them a single cup at a time.

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There is a lot of Peruvian Chinese food on every corner. It’s pretty tasty.

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The salsa is picante!

 

Ceviche is very common in Peru; though, according to Lonely Planet, it's not safe to eat after around 5pm.
Ceviche is very common in Peru; though, according to Lonely Planet, it’s not safe to eat after around 5pm.

My Experiences

I probably spoke more Spanish in my first day in Peru than I spoke Thai in my 11 months living in Thailand.

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It seems that every backpacker and traveler we encounter speaks fluent Spanish. After 2.5 weeks, we haven’t found anyone fumbling with English or having trouble communicating.

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My wife, Carrie, is an absolutely incredibly wonderful, beautiful, amazing, inspirational, kind, funny and cute-as-a-button woman.

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Upon arriving in Puno, Carrie and I found ourselves in the middle of a huge festival. We spent the evening exploring, dancing with locals and taking it all in.

On the way back to our guesthouse, we found ourselves in a particularly crowded corner. Drunk people were jostling and falling over each other and one such man found his way up against me.

When we finally pushed passed, I immediately knew something was wrong. Reaching into my previously-zipped jacked pocket, I stopped in my tracks and told Carrie, “my camera is gone.”

Fortunately, it was only my new point and shoot and not my Nikon D800, which was still safely in my backpack. Still, this was the first time in my life that I’ve ever had something stolen off my person: and hopefully the last.

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It took 6 days in Peru before I found a fellow New Yorker, thanks to him seeing my Mets hat. Naturally, he was a Yankees fan and smack-talk ensued.

 

I always travel with a New York Mets hat. (Sillustani Funeral Towers, Lake Titicaca, Peru)
I always travel with a New York Mets hat. (Sillustani Funeral Towers, Lake Titicaca, Peru)

Transportation

Taxis often have gates around the driver’s seat for his protection.

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A taxi in Puno, PeruA taxi driver warned us to not keep anything on our lap and to place our bags between our legs, as the windows were open and snatchings were common.

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Every time you stop at a light, people try to sell you soda, ice cream, bags of nuts, newspapers and all sorts of other things.

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While in the south of Lima, a guy stood on the side of the road yelling gasiosa (soda), but his bottles had no labels. So, who knows what really was in there.

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One day in Puno, Peru, our taxi driver pulls over and, without saying anything, leave the cab, walks to a nearby wall and proceeds to take one of the biggest pisses I’ve ever witnessed.

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The buses in Lima are full of people selling, preaching and interacting with passengers. On one particular ride, we witnessed a magic show before being offered ice cream and pens.

 

The aforementioned pen and ice cream vendor on a local bus in Lima
The aforementioned pen and ice cream vendor on a local bus in Lima

Lima, Peru

Lima is a huge city; it takes nearly an hour to drive from one end to another.

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Mini-casinos full of slot machines are very popular in Lima.

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The streets of Lima, Peru, are often serenaded by the gentle sound of multiple car alarms going off in unison.

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Lima’s skyline is a fascinating mix of traditional buildings, slums on mountainsides and modern skyscrapers.

 

Catedral de Lima stands in the center of the town center
Catedral de Lima stands in the center of the town center

 

Colorful buildings fill the Barranco district of LIma, Peru
Colorful buildings fill the Barranco district of LIma, Peru

 

Lima's Miraflores district is full of swanky highrise condos overlooking the Pacific Ocean
Lima’s Miraflores district is full of swanky highrise condos overlooking the Pacific Ocean

 

Sandy hills surround Lima and are covered with brightly-colored slums.
Sandy hills surround Lima and are covered with brightly-colored slums.

 


Have you ever been to Peru or South America?

What things did you notice?

 

  • Rachel Campbell

    As always, love the photos!

  • I really loved Peru! And I agree, for a relatively small country, their nature is so amazingly diverse! Are you going all the way down to Patagonia?? That would be so cool!

    Also, why can’t we eat seviche after 5? I had it for dinner many times and that was waaaaay after 5… Is it a good think I didn’t know this at that time?

    • Sadly, no… Patagonia is not on the agenda this trip. It’s just too far away and doesn’t fit in what has become a surprisingly tight schedule.

      As for the Ceviche after 5… I guess the idea is that the fish is raw and by 5pm or later, it’s been sitting out in the hot sun all day and isn’t so sanitary. That said, you ate it and were fine! :)