My friend, who was born in Peru, shared her knowledge with me about growing up there. Listening to this lovely, well-spoken and intuitive woman describe her Peruvian culture and background was inspirational. I have always been mesmerized by foreign accents and my friend’s lovely accent was not only soothing but revealed her passionate personality and the essence of her Peruvian heritage.
When was your last trip to Peru?
In 2010, we traveled to Lima to see my relatives.
What museums do you recommend? Which restaurants?
The Art Museum and National Archealogical Museum are very good. Las Americas in Miraflores is a good restaurant. There are many excellent restaurants in Lima. They have international choices of food.
What excursions do you recommend?
You must go to Machu Picchu if you go to Peru! I went there for 4 days with my school when I was 16 years old. We stayed in houses. I remember breathing pure air there. It is so natural. I felt God was there and you feel the history of long ago. When you listen and learn there, you transport yourself to the past. They talked about different gods and how they survived. I visualized living in their time–the time of the Incas. We learned about the god of the sun, the god of the moon.
There is a pond that looks dirty but has healing, medicinal qualities. The pond water comes down from the stone mountains. Tourists are enchanted with going into this healing pond and they call it miraculous.
Describe your experience at Machu Picchu.
It is steep. You have to be strong and in shape to hike it. It’s a lot of walking and hiking. They offer you traditional Inca food: white corn for protein, boiled potatoes, small portions of black eyed peas, and Swiss cheese. You see campesinas from the villages in traditional dress. You’ll always find these people.
(writer’s side note: I am so interested in these campesinas because I learned about the similarities between the campesinas and the Berber women I write about in my Morocco articles! The pompons and the outfits are similar. The influences came from people’s travels to these regions. The (Moroccan) Berber women also live in villages in the mountains.)
How would you describe the perfect Peruvian meal?
They serve a lot of soups. The primary dish is soup. Then there is white rice or chicken. Lomo Saltado is a good dish. Lomo= the best part of the cow and Saltado = mix of onions and tomatoes. There are beef and fries, tomatoes, and long red onions. Lima overwhelms you with types of fried fish and different ceviches because we are on the coast. There’s lots of salad around, boiled potatoes and spicy salsas on the table. Wine is usually served at dinner and beer is for walking around.
Describe the vibe of the culture.
In South America, we are very warm and loving with foreign people; “extranjeros”. We are respectful because we appreciate that tourists come to our country. We serve and accommodate them so that they leave happy. We feel fortunate because we learn from extranjeros. Many of them work in Peru.
Describe a custom from Peru that you incorporate in your life back home and what does it symbolize?
There is a tradition women do (my mother, aunts, etc) where we light scented candles every Monday until they burn out. They are special candles which are sold in Peru. It is believed that Monday is the day that all the saints are together listening to you.
How long is the flight to Lima, Peru?
It’s 8 hours from Dallas to Lima. And 3 hours from Miami to Lima.
What does your Peruvian heritage mean to you? How does it enrich your life?
Being Peruvian, I describe myself as having compassion and love for others and for family. My family always treated me with love and told me I was a gift from God. It is love. I teach my daughter with very affectionate actions. I tell her to be compassionate with others. If you can help, help. You are here to be good–to be a giver.
suggested reading: Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time by Mark Adams
Aaron Lake, Canyon del Pato and and Tumshukayko are recommended points of interest. Tumshukayko is a pre-Incan remain approximately 3,000 years old.
There is a FASCINATING and informative short video on the link below about Machu Picchu. Please watch it.