Things I Have Learned In Peru

“A man of knowledge chooses a path with a heart and follows it. He looks and rejoices and laughs and then he sees and knows. “  Carlos Casteneda  (born in Peru)

Things  I Have Learned In Peru

Don’t drop your camera.

According to a Stanford University study, seventy-five per cent of taxi drivers in Lima are psychotic.(view of Lima)

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Beaches in Lima are not just for swimming but a good place to play soccer and park your car.

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Millions of guinea pigs are eaten  in Peru every year. No special occasion is complete without them. They are served whole with the head and feet intact. The word in Spanish is Cuya if you do or don’t want to eat it by mistake.

If you are with a Peruvian, you will get a better exchange rate for your money from the man standing on the corner outside the bank.  Don’t try this alone.

Plaza de Armas or Plaza Mayor (“Main Square” in Spanish) is the place where Lima city was born in 1535, founded by Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro. It is also the spot from where Jose San Martin announced Peru’s independence from Spain in 1821.

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As in other countries if you want real silver or real alpaca, buy from a store with a door. Otherwise you will not be sure if you bought baby alpaca or maybe alpaca.

Taxis in Peru do not have meters and you must negotiate a rate before you get in. Anyone can put up a taxi sign in their car and often do to supplement their income. There are no regulations. Many people do it on their way to their regular jobs – if they are late for work, watch out.

If you happen to be in Lima on Palm Sunday, you can see the Archbishop.

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Need stamps? Or anything else?  Palm Sunday at the Post Office.

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There are two seasons in Peru. There is summer when it rains and winter when it is foggy.  The temperature is about the same but sometimes your pictures come out clearer.

We are a bit late with quinoa (the new it food in LA) . It predates the Incas and has been a staple in the Peruvian diet for years. They have many other grains that are high in protein  since quinoa is getting so expensive for them. Check Whole Foods for kikucha.

Soccer is the first second and third sport in Peru. They are very enthusiastic and very bad at it.

Due to the bad state of the economy and the massive inflation in the 1980s , the government got rid of the inti and brought the new Peru currency “nuevo sol” as the country’s new money. The Peruvian nuevo sol is a stable and reliable currency, it is also the least affected by the weak dollar global tendency.

 Peru’s geography yields diverse ingredients: abundant seafood from the coast, tropical fruits from the jungle, and unusual varieties of grains and potatoes from the Andes. Peruvian cuisine is recognized around the world as one of the best in South America. It was surprisingly delicious. The immigrant population throughout the years has strongly influenced the cuisine.  African, Italian, Japanese , Chinese , Spanish, Inca,  Quechua as well as surrounding South American has created the original fusion cuisine.

Peru was the last colony in South America.

Coca tea is helpful in preventing altitude sickness among other things.

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The Andes is the world’s longest mountain chain. (the Himalayas are the highest  -you know I had to look that up)

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Llamas are pronounced yamas, unlike yams, sweet potatoes, yellow potatoes, white potatoes purple potatoes, large corn, small corn and plaintains which are often found at the same meal.  No meal is complete without potato. There are 3000 varieties grown in the Andes. They will eat a different kind of potato for breakfast lunch and dinner. (potatoes at the food market, Cusco)

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I only eat cooked vegetables and fruits and bottled water when I travel to third world countries but had no problem eating raw fish (ceviche) at every meal.

It was just another day in the Sacred Valley with quick stop for lunch.

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For centuries Peruvians have turned to natural remedies to cure their ailments. Medicinal and hallucinogenic plants have been used since pre-Inca times for healing. A variety of healers (referred to as shamans in North America) exist throughout the country with a wide range of techniques. While healers from Northern Peru use San Pedro cactus in their ceremonies, healers from the Amazon work with ayahuasca, which in Quechua translates to ‘vine of the dead’. Ayahuasca is a hallucinogen that induces visions and helps to diagnose illness. Healing ceremonies take place late at night, when the energies are at their highest, especially during a full moon. Westerners have come to Peru specifically to visit with these healers about a variety of issues including cancer and depression. There are mystical Andes tours that include ayahuasca sessions. It is best to do these things in Peru with a real shaman and not in your living room with friends.

The one on the end is not me.

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The first day of hiking at 9000 feet is hard. The first day of shopping at 12,000 feet is no problem.

Pisaq Market  sells handicrafts, jewelry, minerals, herbs, spices and local foods and is the biggest market in Cusco. it’s a good way to learn about the local way of life, get a taste of how herbal medicine works, see how paints and dyes are made using natural minerals and sample the various local foods.

The Quechuas are the descendents of the Incas. You see them all over Cusco and the Sacred Valley in their native dress.  I find the women’s outfits most unflattering. But what is beauty and  who defines it?

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In Cusco, never say maybe later to someone selling you something in the street, somehow they will always find you later. ( Cusco view)

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Pisco ( pure grape brandy) is the national drink of Peru. There are Pisco Sours , Piscopolitans and Piscotinis.

Walking a short distance, from where the bus drops you in Ollytambo, to the train to Cuzco ( due to construction and flooding) is still shorter than changing gates at any major airport.

The potato, tomato, lima bean and avocado come from Peru. (Get it – lima-Lima?)

The Peruvian national Anthem ”El Condor Pasa” sounds a lot like Paul Simon’s “Id Rather Be A Hammer Than a Nail. “  At first I thought, these Peruvians must  love Paul Simon. Hopefully, he gave them some money. Guess what song he is playing?

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Peru is the world’s second-largest producer of cocaine. (yes, Columbia has retained its number one status)

Peruvian corn has the biggest kernels in the world.

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Llamas have the right of way at Machu Picchu, should you be on a narrow road and meet one.  From far away, it is hard to tell the difference between an alpaca, a vicuna and a llama.  It is easier to tell by the feel of the sweaters.

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The Peruvian root Magra is what they make Viagra from.

Like their grandmothers, the Quechua women of Chinchero weave textiles. They have formed the Chinchero Textile Center. Dressed in their native clothes, they spin, thread, weave and dye with natural dyes.  They are prepared using wild plants, to color the wool. The red is from cochineal and the green  is chilca or ragwort, with drops of lemon for a more intense color.

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The Cuzco School Of Art is a series of religious paintings.  The Spaniards taught the Inca artists how to paint their icons in the style of Flemish and Gothic masters.   There are no names on the paintings and though the subject  is Christianity, the Indians have managed to put in many hidden symbols from their own culture. They moved from the traditional style and added their own interpretation.  The best pieces are in the Cuzco  Cathedral.

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The magic of the Andes is that every time you turn around, the colors are different. (yes its the picture at the top of my page)

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If you want to learn about the  Incas, it is another blog.

http://havefunflysafe.wordpress.com/2012/09/15/things-i-have-learned-from-the-incas-in-peru/

Things i have Learned from the Incas In Peru

Viajen con cuidado,

JAZ

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