After Buenos Aires, a little Chile in San Pedro de Atacama and my travels through Bolivia, I spent almost three weeks in Peru and I must say that it’s the country I liked most on my trip, for several reasons. First, it has a great variety of landscapes, from the Andes and the Highlands, the lake Titicaca, one of the biggest and highest lakes on earth (actually big enough for the Bolivians to have a marine inside their army, despite having any coastline) to the jungle around Iquitos and of course the beaches along the Pacific ocean. But the is not the only reason.
My judgement is not based on nature alone, that would be unfair, since Ecuador and Colombia also have an incredible variety I unfortunately did not have the time to explore to the fullest. But what I also liked about Peru is the culture awareness and pride you find everywhere. Being the heart of the Inca Empire with Cusco as Inca capital and the cradle for many Indigenous cultures in Latin America, like the Moche and Nasca and many still vivid groups like Quechua, Aymara or Urus, Peru seems to have found a way of being proud of that heritage without feeling too bitter about the colonial history and the tragic destruction of heritage during the Spanish reign. And somehow it feels that the country is internally not as separated as it seems in Bolivia or Ecuador, where politicians, entrepreneurs and tv presenters are mainly white but the street population is mainly indigenous so you feel like you would still be in a colonized country. There seems to be a growing middle class consisting of Indigenous and mestizo people and the next president might be the leftist nationalist Ollanta Humala whose father is of Indigenous origin.
Third reason are the people. Most tend to be really friendly and helpful, and, as a paradox, gave me a lot of warnings about other ill-meaning Peruvians, including taxi drivers who repeatedly warned me about taxi drivers. I also had very educated and savy guides who did not only knew about sites and history but also recommended really great places to eat. Which leads me to the next reason to love Peru: The food.
Food in Peru has an incredible variety of ingredients and recipes, edging to a new cuisine which fuses traditional dishes with Asian (mixed with Chinese, the food is called “Chifa” e.g.) or European cooking. I was happy to have a lot of dishes from Ceviche, which is marinated fresh fish with onion and lemon, Anticuchos, which are grilled beef hearts, Rocoto Relleno, which are stuffed peppers or delicious soups. You can even have guinea pig which is a bit complicated since there is little meat and lots of bone. Typical dessert is sweet rice and a very interesting drink based on some kind of jelly served with lime and herbs, feels really good after eating a lot. And it’s not necessarily expensive, of course you have upscale restaurants but you can eat very very good for 3 EUR as a normal economic menu during the day.
So, I will try to sum up some more conclusions about my travel as my head feels filled with impressions and images and I hope some consistent stories about countries, people and little events might come out.