I’m sure those close to me have been shocked to not have seen a post on Peru yet. They hear way too much about it because it’s my favorite travel destination so far. So, in the best of ways, this post is a little biased. The whole reason behind my visit to Peru is, after all, owed to someone else who fell in love with the place and couldn’t shut up about how people need to go and see for themselves. Word of mouth is a powerful thing.
Whether it’s the vast variety of breath-taking scenery, the charm of the loving people who live there, or the food and culture that makes such a lasting impression on people long after they’ve gone, Peru has the hearts of many (Peruvian and not). Here are just a few reasons why.
- The Food
Pollo a la Brasa, Spanish for “roasted chicken,” is one of my favorite dishes in Peru. Compare it to rotisserie chicken with better texture, better flavor/seasonings, and usually with a side of yuca fries. It’s amazing when you get it from a good place, and the natives make it even better at home.
Chifa is another very popular and delicious kind of food eaten in Peru. It’s like awesome Chinese food cooked their way.
Inca Kola. That’s something I actually miss a lot. I didn’t try it for the first week or two of being there, but when I finally did I regretted waiting so long. The reason for my skepticism was that it’s a vibrant yellow color. I figured it’d taste way too sweet for me, which, yes it is sweet, but it’s got an addicting flavor.
Alpaca. Don’t judge me for liking it, but I had to try some of the most popular delicacies in Peru. It’s upsetting to some since alpacas and guinea pigs are like pets. I have to say though, alpaca was pretty good. I never did try cuy (guinea pig) but it’s regarded highly in Peru as a great tasting dish.
Aji de gallina and lomo saltado are two more great dishes. Lomo saltado is basically stir-fry steak and vegetables and aji de gallina is like a creamy sauce made with pulled chicken and served with rice and sometimes boiled eggs on top. The combination is amazing.
Pisco sours are a good enough reason to live there forever. It had to grow on me because the taste was kind of new. I wasn’t used to having a drink with froth on top (made from egg whites) but I miss it a lot and really need to figure out how to make it on my own. Pisco is a Peruvian brandy and that is mixed with lime, sugar, and the egg white froth. It’s strong, but perfectly blended and great with pretty much any meal.
Those are just a few of a million great foods and drinks but definitely some of my favorite in Peru.
2. The Scenery/Things to Do
We did some pretty amazing stuff during our stay in Peru, but some of the most memorable for me are riding dune buggies across the sand mountains in the Ica Desert (and sand surfing down the biggest ones!), hanging out with my host family and study abroad friends at a horse ranch and horseback-riding (courtesy of my host dad), staying in Cusco and climbing up Machu Picchu of course, and overall going to school every day in Lima.
Obviously the school part is only possible if you do a study abroad in Peru, but I loved my daily schedule of learning Spanish at a unique-looking post-grad school built into the base of a mountain (just a big hill according to my Spanish teacher) and being able to walk to and from my local home every day. The location of my home was great because I was able to walk to the bakery/grocery store, my school, and even into town where all the restaurants and shops were located. If I wanted to go farther downtown or to Mira Flores (another favorite place of mine) all I had to do was walk outside and get a taxi. A lot of people doing the program with me were closeby so it was easy to meet up and go do stuff together.
Mira Flores was a desirable destination for everyone because it’s a huge mall on a beautiful ocean-side cliff. It was on the other side of Lima, about a 30 minute taxi ride and there was plenty to do there. Not far from there (about a 20 minute walk) is a strip of discotecas (clubs/bars).
3. The People (Culture)
Even if you don’t know much Spanish, this is an unforgettable place to go. I met some amazing people while staying in Lima and Cusco. It’s been almost two years since I left to go there, and I’m still in contact with a few people including my host family members even with the vast distance between us and all our busy lives. The people I met truly were genuine, loving, and caring people who seemed to have their priorities in line better than any American I’ve ever known, including myself. Their family closeness was inspiring to watch. Everything is less vulgar and sexualized. Love and romance is more celebrated, stress seems to be seriously lessened in the air somehow versus being anywhere else, and everyone was just happier.
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