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9 First Impressions of Peru

This is a whole new continent for me. I’ve been to a few places in the world, but never to Central or South America. That is, until now.

Hola from Puno, Peru where I will be living and working for the next three months. I’m here to complete an internship requirement for my master’s degree. Specifically, I will hopefully (the IRB hasn’t gone through yet) be working on an improved cookstove project with rural communities surrounding Puno.

Many people in these communities use wood-burning “traditional” stoves without chimneys. We want to better understand if and how it could be feasible and acceptable to community members to transition to more efficient stoves that have chimneys.

The view from my new room in Puno
The view from my new room in Puno

I will be working with Jackie, who has a blog of her own filled with her experiences in Puno from the past three months, on this project.

I like to try to keep track of my first impressions when I arrive in a new country or region (Check out my first impressions of Bangkok). Let me preface this by saying I have never ever been interested in traveling to South America. Central America, maybe, yes, but South America, no. I don’t know why, I really couldn’t tell you – I was just never drawn to it.

Not a huge mountain fan (usually more a beach gal) but this view in Arequipa was spectacular
Not a huge mountain fan (usually more a beach gal) but this view in Arequipa was spectacular

So about those first impressions:

I stayed two nights in Arequipa to acclimatize to the altitude before coming up to Puno (turns out it didn’t really help that much but Arequipa was a nice introduction to Peru) then took a bus to Puno, which sits on Lake Titicaca near the Bolivian border.

1. Peruvian food in general does not sound appetizing me, but I have had a few yummy things so far. It’s a lot of bread, meat, cheese, cream, meat, fried things, meat – heavy carby meaty things. Lots of pizza actually. I don’t generally go for heavy foods, especially up here at altitude when I’m barely hungry anyways. Delicious things DO exist though, you just have to look a little harder for them. Examples: fresh juices (not hard to find), avocados, the trout in Puno. Also, where my street food at? I miss that.

The fruit section in the big market in Arequipa. They had a separate section where they would make fresh juices!

2. On a similar note, quinoa is finally affordable! You never thought it was possible but it is!!

3. Peruvian children are extremely adorable, almost as cute (na-raak) as my sweet angel Thai munchkin students. Almost. 😉

4. Peruvian souvenirs ROCK. Way to go, Peru, you really nailed this one. I’m gonna return home dressed like an alpaca rainbow.

Quintessential Peru shot plus some colorful souvenirs
Quintessential Peru shot plus some colorful souvenirs

5. My Spanish is still hilariously bad but the real issue is that everyone speaks a mile a minute. Can’t. Keep. Up.

6. It’s freezing. I’m freezing. I will write more about this later, that’s how important it is.

7. Coca tea does actually help with altitude symptoms, but only while you’re drinking it. And Diamox helps more, but it makes you pee 7 times in one hour. Like a lot of pee, not just a trickle. It’s intense.

Coca tea with leaves
Coca tea with leaves

8. Peru is not that cheap. It’s not expensive necessarily but definitely not cheap. I bought the cheapest towel I could find and it cost me over $10. I’ve spent nearly $200 and I’ve only been here four days. That’s not including accommodation for one of the nights. I could travel in Western Europe for that kind of money! India where you at?

9. Bowler hats and Peruvian skirts. You know which ones I’m talking about. That is all.

9 First Impressions of Peru


    • mishvo says:

      When I traveled in Southeast Asia I found I could do it for $30 a day VERY comfortably, and perhaps less if I moved slower and was a bit less comfortable. India was even cheaper per day. $50 a day is closer to my budget when I was in Western Europe.

      Re: Peru, transport is not that cheap here (I took a 6 hour bus ride for $21. You can forget about flying anywhere within the country, it seems to be exorbitant). Food is also not that cheap ($7-10 I would say on average for a meal). And accommodation is the same – probably about $20-30 if you want your own room and perhaps hot water. I haven’t been here that long but that’s what I’ve encountered!

  1. mishvo says:

    Okay good luck but I think you are confused – that was my Asia budget – maybe possible in this region but you will have to sacrifice some things I imagine. Let me know how that goes, especially if you get by on $20 a day, I’ve never heard of that before!

  2. Abhijit Sengupta says:

    Nice write up. Hope you will get time to take inkatrail to machu pichu. Learn to make piscosour and ceviche. Also Lima and Cusco have places to see around.

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