Edit Blog Post
Published: September 16th 2007
Scary Traditional Mask
Couldn´t resist trying this on and scaring small childen
A few facts and observations on Peru....
1. If you cast your mind back to your childhood, do you remember Paddington Bear? He came from "Darkest Peru" and ate marmalade sandwiches. (I also remember that he used to fix people with a "hard stare" when he didn´t like them). Well, so far I have not managed to find any bears in Peru, and it´s damn difficult to find a decent marmalade sandwich.
2. Peru is full of badly designed toilets, where the door is right next to the urinals. Why just the other day I was having a sprinkle, and the door opens, revealing my John Thomas to everyone in the restaurant outside.
3. It is common in many small towns for shops to have no change. You are then forced to walk out without your goods because they can´t change your note. I have expressed my FURY at this in a previous blog for Ecuador. But I found out there is a reason for this in Peru. There was a national change shortage shortly after they changed their currency to "The New Sol" in 1991. No change was available anywhere! Enough new currency was then produced to
close-up encounter with an alpaca
recify this, but everyone was scared of not having enough change, and so they stockpile it. This stockpiling has again resulted in a change shortage in some areas, even though there is more than enough!
4. Give a taxi driver a note and he will always say he has no change. This is a lie! (see "stockpiling" under point 3)
4. Dogs have friends! In Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela, dogs are loners and are rarely seen with other dogs apart from the occasional bum sniff. But in Peru they run around and play in small groups. Peruvian dogs have mates!
5. Women wear hats, but the hats are regional. Each part of Peru has a particular hat, which might vary in size, shape, or have a particular type of flower embroidered on the side. Hence you can tell where a woman is from by her hat. Near Huaraz, the women all wear a trilby-style hat which is one size too small for them, and looks very comical, as if it will fall off at any minute
6. You cannot avoid Alpaca products in Peru. (An alpaca is similar to a Llama, but smaller and with a
tucking into a tasty alpaca steak
not only are they cute and furry, they taste really good!
much finer wool) Alpaca meat is on almost every menu, and alpaca wool products are in every shop and every street corner. Every tourists attraction has dozens of women outside selling alpaca gloves, scarves and hats. I am sick to death of being hassled to buy flaming alpaca products! (on a side note, on a drunken night out I said if anyone could find me an alpaca codpiece, I would be willing to do a bungee jump wearing nothing but the codpiece. Luckily no-one managed to find me one)
7. If alpacas are fed too much food, the excess calories are not turned to fat. Instead, their wool gets thicker! If that were the same with humans, I would have an afro three feet high
8. In the village of Huari in the Andes, they celebrate the "Fiesta de los Gatos" each October. This translates as the Festival of the Cats, and the locals have the tradition of serving roasted cat at the festival. The villagers get so excited by this, that in 2005 there was no cat on the menu because they had consumed so many the previous year that the cat population hadn´t recovered!
a nice cup of tea
Coca tea, with another herb whose name escapes me. Lovely stuff!
Coca Leaves are widely consumed in Peru. They have been used since ancient times by the Incas and other Andean people. Coca leaves are either chewed, or used as a herbal tea. They act as a mild stimulant and are also useful for relieving the symptoms of altitude sickness. They are also used by local people as an offering to the Earth Goddess, "Pachamama". But the humble coca leaf is also the raw material for the manufacture of cocaine. Approximately a ton of leaves are used to make a kilogramme of cocaine. The US government is currently trying to persuade Peru to embark on an eradication program. They want the widespread destruction of the coca leaf, by spraying crops all over Peru with a herbicide to destroy the plants. This program is already partly underway in Colombia, by the USA providing large donations to the Colombian economy. But Peru is having none of it! They have come up with an excellent comeback to the USA. An essential chemical in the cocaine making process is acetone. Peru does not produce acetone, it is produced in the States. So the Peruvian government says, if you want to stop cocaine production, stop producing
It is quite common for women to carry babies on their backs in slings
and exporting acetone!!
10. Most women here carry their babies on their backs using hand-tied slings. This would never happen in England! people would be too scared about safety and the baby falling out. They women also carry shopping and even sheep and chickens in their slings!
11. Many buildings in Peru are unfinished. They have one or two storeys, but then they don´t have proper roofs and have metal spikes sticking up, ready for the construction of another floor. This extra storey will never be built! Completed buildings are taxable, and by leaving a building incomplete, you avoid the tax
12. Taxis here have no meter. They operate on a principle somewhere between guesswork and daylight robbery. Always ask the fare beforehand, and then bargain down
13. Garbage trucks here have huge speakers attached to the outside, and blare out really annoying music. I guess the idea is to let people know the truck is coming, so they can put their garbage out
14. Guinea pigs are also prolific in Peru as food. The eating of guinea pigs has been traced as far back as 7,000 years, long before England even considered them as
Anything can be carried in these convenient slings!
pets. Indeed, when guinea pigs were "discovered" by Spanish Explorers in the 18th Century, they made an impressive debut in Europe and became the "must have" exotic pet amongst the aristocracy. Queen Elizabeth I apparently had one as a pet. The guinea pig, or cuy, is held in high regard as a delicacy. So much so, that paintings of the Last Supper by the indigenous people show Christ and his disciples tucking into a tableful of roasted cuy!
Tot: 2.875s; Tpl: 0.045s; cc: 28; qc: 159; dbt: 0.0862s; 2; m:saturn w:www (126.96.36.199); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.7mb