Kelly Bast is a student at the University of Nebraska, Omaha and an ISA Featured Blogger. She is currently studying abroad with ISA in Lima, Peru.
It’s crazy to think I’ve already been in Peru for over a month now. From trekking to Machu Picchu to exploring the Amazon jungle to the bustling day-to-day in Lima, there has yet to be a lack of adventure.
Other than the constant stream of Spanish all around me and the way I stick out as the “exotic” 6-foot blonde girl, these five differences stood out to me the most when I landed in Peru:
1. Hora peruana. I was warned upon arrival in Lima about the “hora peruana” and how it’s not uncommon for Peruvians to show up late to activities. Even still, nothing prepared me for my first experience at a quinceñera. My host family, roommate and I arrived at a punctual 9 pm to the party…big mistake. It wasn’t until 3 hours later that all the relatives had arrived and the birthday girl finally made an appearance!
2. Honk or be honked. Whatever patience Peruvians have in waiting completely disappears when you put them behind the wheel of a car. Basically, if a taxi gets cut off, a pedestrian gets in the way, or the driver is just bored, they will honk. A lot.
3. The food. If for no other reason, everyone should come to Peru to try lomo saltado (a traditional dish of beef stir fry with rice and fried potatoes) and all the other amazing food here. Freshly squeezed juices, ceviche, Chifa… I’m obsessed with it all!
4. Cloudy with a chance of clouds. For a city just a few degrees below the equator, the weather in Lima is unlike anything I expected. Due to its location trapped between the Andes Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, the skies are constantly gray in the winter. I didn’t see blue until the third week! It never rains in the city. A light mist called “garua” is the only kind of precipitation they have.
5. Besos. You know at the end of a volleyball or soccer game how the two opposing teams form lines to shake hands? Imagine that but in the form of kissing on the cheek. Even if there are 20 people in a room, it’s not uncommon for each newcomer to walk around and greet everyone with a kiss before sitting down. Although this was probably the biggest culture shock for me, Peru just wouldn’t be the same without its friendly and affectionate people.
Want to read more about Peru? Check out “Lima, the City that Never Ceases to Impress”