Peru and South America as a whole was not 100% what I envisioned, but not in a bad way.
People are generally friendly and a lot of them don’t speak English, which means we’ve had to use a little Spanish which is good.
The cities are dusty and we’ve both developed a cough (chill out Mum and Nisha, it’s nothing serious!). The soles of my feet cracked in Arequipa and Tuls hands look like “old ladies hands”. They’re also mostly layed out in the same way thanks to the Spanish which can sometimes make them look very similar, but the grid system also makes them easy to navigate.
My favourite so far has probably been Cuzco because it seems to have kept its historical importance and character in tact (in the centre at least), as appose to Puno which you would only ever visit for the floating islands (which themselves are quite a tourist trap). Tul’s favourite (and a close second for me) has been Arequipa, mainly for its climate, but also because of the monastery there. The hostel we stayed in was also nice and the owner was amazing.
There are dogs everywhere in Peru which on the whole look dirty but healthy and happy. It seems to be a dog loving place, which I like.
Cost of living is slightly more than we expected but we’ve learnt to live very cheaply. The price of a Snickers is on average about 8 or 10 times more expensive (about £1) than a non-imported chocolate bar. The food here is not great. Lots of alpaca and other meats, and lots of carbs (potatoes, rice, etc). You can find nice street food (empanadas especially) none of which have made us sick (yet!). ‘Menu completo’s’ which are usually a huge bowl of soup with veg and the main course with rice and chips can be found in markets for about 3.50 soles (less than £1). Peru is very proud of it’s many varieties of potatoes and the chips are delicious.
Time slips away from you as the days are hot but the sun goes down early and quickly. If there’s mountain near by which it can hide behind you can notice the sun go down almost in seconds. The nights are cold and if you get caught out at sunset with no warm clothes on it can be an uncomfortable walk home.
People are out to make money everywhere but it’s quite easy after a while to say no. Most of the buskers you see in restaurants (and anywhere else you can think of) assume tourists want to hear pan pipe versions of Hey Jude and Lady Madonna (haven’t heard any Stones versions yet unfortunately).
Standard of living seems to drop drastically when you’re out of city centres and beggars are in every town and city. Shoe shiners are very common and sometimes use the shine box to start a conversation and then ask for money. We made a rule not to give to beggars, but both of us have caved once or twice as it’s sometimes too difficult to say no because some people here are clearly struggling.
The kids are cute and seem quite happy, confident and often boisterous.
The buses are very varied in levels of comfort and expense, but the drivers are invariably mental.
All in all I think we will both think very fondly of Peru. Highlights would have to be the Amazon trip and of course the Inca trail. Also, Cusquena malta is our new favourite beer :)