Your first Peru experience?

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Your first Peru experience?

Postby teamoperu » Tue Sep 17, 2013 11:14 am

OK, just for fun. When was your first visit to Peru and what are your memories of your first impression?

I'll start. First visited 26 years ago, then the next year, and next. Even tho I've visited 32 different countries in the world, I fell in love with Peru. I remember the Inca Trail and Machu Pichu not over-run by tourists (and so you could be guaranteed in Cuzco to be subject to a pickpocket attempt and your backpack razor-blade slashed, and the police just shrugged). Colca Canyon was over-run by condors. It seemed 90% of the cars in Lima were Volkswagen Beetles. Jeans had not yet caught on so many people still wore traditional clothes. Tourists stayed only in Miraflores, always attached their belongings to the chairs with clips. Few went to the Plaza de Armas in Lima, those that braved it were rewarded with entering the front doors of the palace, with blue uniformed palace guards, for a free tour or independent wandering. The airport was tiny and the police took you to the washroom to search you. Almost impossible to find anyone with good English, but everyone was friendly and helpful. I remember it being so different, in so many ways, to what I was accustomed back home, a fascinating culture shock.

I went to a small village in the mountains. No restaurants so we had to ask a older lady to cook something for us. I asked her how many gringos visit the town. Her answer: none. No gringo had ever visited this village in her memory, the kids crowded around me out of curiosity, especially my blue eyes, while the parents pulled them away and told them not to stare, it was rude.


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Re: Your first Peru experience?

Postby chi chi » Tue Sep 17, 2013 1:18 pm

Sounds like when you visited Peru for the first time, I was far more an adventure and more off the beaten track. Things were more traditional too.
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Re: Your first Peru experience?

Postby TShadow » Wed Sep 18, 2013 2:55 pm

Those were different times when Peru still was an adventure. Now it's nothing special anymore. It's just badly growing as many other countries in the world. Seems that quality of life has become better for many poor, but is that really true?
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Re: Your first Peru experience?

Postby teamoperu » Thu Sep 19, 2013 9:31 am

chi chi wrote:Sounds like when you visited Peru for the first time, I was far more an adventure and more off the beaten track. Things were more traditional too.


Quite so, that's why I fell in love with it. I've seen many changes over the years, some good some not. Surely the infrastructure has improved drastically. But back then I did not have to wait for the waitress to get off her cell phone to get service. Back then Coca Cola was hard to come by, it was mostly Inka Cola.
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Re: Your first Peru experience?

Postby Sergio Bernales » Sat Sep 21, 2013 1:41 am

teamoperu wrote:
chi chi wrote:Sounds like when you visited Peru for the first time, I was far more an adventure and more off the beaten track. Things were more traditional too.


Quite so, that's why I fell in love with it. I've seen many changes over the years, some good some not. Surely the infrastructure has improved drastically. But back then I did not have to wait for the waitress to get off her cell phone to get service. Back then Coca Cola was hard to come by, it was mostly Inka Cola.


In this case it sounds like the past really is another country. I'd love to have visited back then.
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Re: Your first Peru experience?

Postby tomsax » Sat Sep 21, 2013 8:52 am

teamoperu wrote:OK, just for fun. When was your first visit to Peru and what are your memories of your first impression?

I'll start. First visited 26 years ago, then the next year, and next. Even tho I've visited 32 different countries in the world, I fell in love with Peru. I remember the Inca Trail and Machu Pichu not over-run by tourists (and so you could be guaranteed in Cuzco to be subject to a pickpocket attempt and your backpack razor-blade slashed, and the police just shrugged). Colca Canyon was over-run by condors. It seemed 90% of the cars in Lima were Volkswagen Beetles. Jeans had not yet caught on so many people still wore traditional clothes. Tourists stayed only in Miraflores, always attached their belongings to the chairs with clips. Few went to the Plaza de Armas in Lima, those that braved it were rewarded with entering the front doors of the palace, with blue uniformed palace guards, for a free tour or independent wandering. The airport was tiny and the police took you to the washroom to search you. Almost impossible to find anyone with good English, but everyone was friendly and helpful. I remember it being so different, in so many ways, to what I was accustomed back home, a fascinating culture shock.

I went to a small village in the mountains. No restaurants so we had to ask a older lady to cook something for us. I asked her how many gringos visit the town. Her answer: none. No gringo had ever visited this village in her memory, the kids crowded around me out of curiosity, especially my blue eyes, while the parents pulled them away and told them not to stare, it was rude.


Teamoperu, I've worked out you must have first come to Peru about the same time as I did (1987?). I think you are looking back with slightly rose tinted glasses but agree with a lot of your sentiment. I remember my first 72 hrs in Peru like they were yesterday...Since I should be working I will tell it how I remember it

I arrive at lunchtime. On passing through customs at the airport a tourist guide saw me looking at my Rough Guide to Peru and and said he knew the author who came through there quite alot!. At that time they kept a list at the airport of places that put tourists up at different prices, do I got an address, a price $US5. I took the tourist bus service that took all tourists who wanted it to their hotel although it did take a while going round all the places. I remember thinking Lima looked like a big building site with all the building only half built, all the reinforcement sticking up in the air. I was taken to my hotel which was a little family run hotel in the centre of Lima the wrong side of Wilson. I remember being grateful that the room had no windows and a large padlock to lock the door on the inside. So I felt really safe. I had a couple hrs sleep and then decided to explore. It indicates my budget at the time that I thought $US5 was probably a bit expensive so I decided to check out the Europa Hotel near the Plaza de Armas. Part of it was I wanted a place with other tourists. I was the only gringo in the small family run hotel I was sent to.
I remember walking through the Jiron de Union and being blown away by the atmosphere, the look of the people, so much going on and new things to see.
I checked out the Hotel Europa and it was around 40cents a night which I couldn’t really believe but there had been lots of inflation recently. I decided to go there the next day .
I went back passing the Plaza de San Martin where there my guide book told me was a telephone place. There were small little kiosks with very old fashioned phones in them. Even then they looked really old, like from the 60s. You paid what seemed a lot of money and then got two minutes to call home. I spoke to my Dad, told him I had arrived safely and that all was well. “what time is it there?” he said. “6.30” I said. I realized it was late there and he was just going to bed. He would have been concerned about me and it showed in his voice. “Take care” he said. “I will, it is still light here” I said. I came out on to the Plaza San Martin and it was already dark. I wasn’t used to it getting dark that quickly.
I remember the next morning in the first hotel. There were chickens walking about the bathroom. Breakfast had nice bread but coffee was hot water with a strange cold syrupy coffee extract you put into it. At breakfast was a young guy from Iquitos who seemed as overwhelmed by the city as I was but we could communicate very little given my Spanish was still poor.
The next day I walked through central Lima with a full rucksack at around 6am to the Europa Hotel. Now I realize that was a pretty stupid thing to do on my first day in south America. But at the Europa I met a whole gang of other backpackers, a lot more experienced than me, and all was great. I got robbed on the third day in Peru but a young waiter chased the thief into the San Francisco church and somehow got my bag back. That was a good introduction to the best and worst of Peru.

Oh dear that was far too long. The joy of remembering. Back to work...
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Re: Your first Peru experience?

Postby chi chi » Sat Sep 21, 2013 4:50 pm

Sergio Bernales wrote:In this case it sounds like the past really is another country. I'd love to have visited back then.


Me too.
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Re: Your first Peru experience?

Postby argidd » Tue Sep 24, 2013 3:46 pm

chi chi wrote:
Sergio Bernales wrote:In this case it sounds like the past really is another country. I'd love to have visited back then.


Me too.


Do you really?

Let me tell you the other side of the story... from the eyes of a middle class limeña 5 year old girl, (so imagine what poor children in the highlands went through).

I had just started kindergarden, my sister and I sometimes had to do homework at candle light. Why? Because so many power towers were blown up that energy was rationalized. My mother had been waiting for the phone company to install the phone in a house they purchased 7 years ago... so yes, 7 years waiting for the phone company (and we waited 2 more years after that). I broke my chin that year, so my nanny had to walk ten blocks to my aunts house to use the phone to call my parents. We only had 2 or 3 working tv channels, with no censorship... I remember the year before (1986) seeing a man with a pole stuck through his abdomen being interviewed on TV (yes, I still carry the image with me). We had to get a guard dog because my parents were in fear our house would be broken into again. One day my parents came home in a borrowed car. They had gone out to dinner and took a bit longer, they were close to curfew, they had to borrow their friends car and signal out a white handkerchief, a sign of peace, so the militares wouldn't gun them down.
My grandfather was co-owner of a mining company... by 1987 he had received more than 50 threats they (terrorists) would rip his guts out if he continued sending people to that specific area. He finally gave up around that time and went into a different line of business.
That year was the first time I protested against a government (yes, being 5, standing on my kindergarden red chair).
That year I was also old enough to make a line, with my sister, so we could get our own serving of milk, oil, sugar or bread. I still have the image of going to the Supermarket in the most pituco part of San Isidro (where my grandparents lived) and seeing the toilet paper section just empty (kind of like the images of Venezuela now).

Instead of singing kiddie songs while we drove past Avenida Aviación, my sister, my cousins and me would sing "y va caer, y va a caer, Caballo Loco va a caer" (Caballo Loco AKA Alan García).

Peru in the 80's and early 90's was far from the romantic mystical place you guys probably think it was; it was hell.
Regards,

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Re: Your first Peru experience?

Postby sbaustin » Tue Sep 24, 2013 4:04 pm

argidd,

My wife tells similar stories although she lived in Lima, there were blackouts, bombs placed outside her school, high crime, almost no food, and various other problems.

My first experience with Peru was different. My friend (now wife) picked me up at the airport where we met in person for the first time about 7 years ago. She was of course with her dad and they drove me to my hotel. It was a three week vacation, I took some spanish classes, traveled around Lima a bit and I moved here six months later.
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Re: Your first Peru experience?

Postby Sergio Bernales » Tue Sep 24, 2013 4:13 pm

argidd wrote:
chi chi wrote:
Sergio Bernales wrote:In this case it sounds like the past really is another country. I'd love to have visited back then.


Me too.


Do you really?

Let me tell you the other side of the story... from the eyes of a middle class limeña 5 year old girl, (so imagine what poor children in the highlands went through).

I had just started kindergarden, my sister and I sometimes had to do homework at candle light. Why? Because so many power towers were blown up that energy was rationalized. My mother had been waiting for the phone company to install the phone in a house they purchased 7 years ago... so yes, 7 years waiting for the phone company (and we waited 2 more years after that). I broke my chin that year, so my nanny had to walk ten blocks to my aunts house to use the phone to call my parents. We only had 2 or 3 working tv channels, with no censorship... I remember the year before (1986) seeing a man with a pole stuck through his abdomen being interviewed on TV (yes, I still carry the image with me). We had to get a guard dog because my parents were in fear our house would be broken into again. One day my parents came home in a borrowed car. They had gone out to dinner and took a bit longer, they were close to curfew, they had to borrow their friends car and signal out a white handkerchief, a sign of peace, so the militares wouldn't gun them down.
My grandfather was co-owner of a mining company... by 1987 he had received more than 50 threats they (terrorists) would rip his guts out if he continued sending people to that specific area. He finally gave up around that time and went into a different line of business.
That year was the first time I protested against a government (yes, being 5, standing on my kindergarden red chair).
That year I was also old enough to make a line, with my sister, so we could get our own serving of milk, oil, sugar or bread. I still have the image of going to the Supermarket in the most pituco part of San Isidro (where my grandparents lived) and seeing the toilet paper section just empty (kind of like the images of Venezuela now).

Instead of singing kiddie songs while we drove past Avenida Aviación, my sister, my cousins and me would sing "y va caer, y va a caer, Caballo Loco va a caer" (Caballo Loco AKA Alan García).

Peru in the 80's and early 90's was far from the romantic mystical place you guys probably think it was; it was hell.


Thanks for posting and letting us know about things from the Peruvian side. I wouldn't say it's a purely romantic and mystical attraction, but more the differences that were attractive. In fact, part of my attraction to Peru and south America in general in this era is from reading authors like Paul Theroux, specifically The Old Patagonian Express, who make the whole experience sound compelling without leaving out the horror stories. He is genuinely terrified in Bogota, suffers from soroche in Peru and meets the backpackers and romantics who portray South America as a mystical place - it is those that come across worst. However, he describes a world which is now gone and for many, such as yourself, good riddance is in order, but for those of us who would have been able to escape back to our safe, prosperous suburbs had we been living back them, it's so much easier to see things from the adventurous side, rather than the daily hardships that ordinary people had to bear - and still do in places like Venezuela.

One other book which I love, despite the fact it was written over 100 years ago and seems to capture so much of what you're talking about is Nostromo by Joseph Conrad. Often the same tensions that can be seen today are so very much present. Often the big difference are things like the Italian population, who have come to South America as manual labourers, and are now visible as one of South America's more prosperous diasporas.
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Re: Your first Peru experience?

Postby Hitoruna » Wed Sep 25, 2013 11:36 pm

Humans are adaptive animals. One learn to live among bombs, murders and blackouts.

I live those years when I was a child and I am sure my parents found it harsh. But I was a happy child and then teenager. The most horrendous thing I saw was the mutiny at el sexto when criminals burn a guy and killed in front of tv cameras. Other than that, it was a normal life, with plays, love crushes, parties etc. Yes there was a curfew and we adapted, parties ending early and rushing back home before the curfew. Yes there were blackouts and we adapted using power generators.

I remember that it was thanks to one of these blackouts that I met my first gr. My friends were in a party and fools as we were, we chose one without power generators. We were giving toasts when the lights of all Lima went out. So we took a taxi to the other side of town traveling through darkness, till we entered another party that was full of live (and power). There I met her. While in the first one the menu got bad and made everybody sick.

The worst thing a terrorist can do is to fill you with fear. Living normally is the best response.
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Re: Your first Peru experience?

Postby teamoperu » Sun Sep 29, 2013 6:31 am

chi chi wrote:
Sergio Bernales wrote:In this case it sounds like the past really is another country. I'd love to have visited back then.


Me too.


Not to diminish any of the interesting comments by people who lived here at the time, you would have loved it, we were visitors enjoying the best Peru had to offer, not the worst. Hiking the Inca Trail and the incredible Machu Picchu without the hoards of tourists, the White City before the earthquake, sipping wine and looking at the huge sky and a zillion stars at the geothermal pools at Chivay, fantastic terraces and condors at Colca Canyon, the cloud forests, the altiplano with frost in the morning and the Quechua ladies and kids layered by ponchos and woollen leggings, hiking snow capped mountains, Cuzco, being the only one at Saksaywaman except for a pan flute echoing in the still evening air, and the sacred valley, all by bus on questionable roads. It was full-on sensory overload, daily! Sure, we were extorted by the Inca trail porters, robbed in Cuzco. In fact, they tried me 3 days in a row: the bird dropping on the shoulder trick one day, slashed backpack another, slashed trouser leg pocket the third. They probably would have gone for 4 days in a row, but realized they were getting nothing from me, better pickings elsewhere. My friend was choked to unconsciousness so they could rob him. But it was just part of the adventure – no, correction, it made it more of an adventure.

Poor? Yes. So poor the government did not have the money to supply bullets to all the policemen. The bullets they had were rotated among the officers so you never knew who had the bullets and who did not. Today, you will see the bullets oddly and predominately displayed on the holsters of guards here, now you know why.
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Re: Your first Peru experience?

Postby teamoperu » Thu Oct 03, 2013 8:39 am

tomsax wrote:
teamoperu wrote:OK, just for fun. When was your first visit to Peru and what are your memories of your first impression?

I'll start. First visited 26 years ago, then the next year, and next. Even tho I've visited 32 different countries in the world, I fell in love with Peru. I remember the Inca Trail and Machu Pichu not over-run by tourists (and so you could be guaranteed in Cuzco to be subject to a pickpocket attempt and your backpack razor-blade slashed, and the police just shrugged). Colca Canyon was over-run by condors. It seemed 90% of the cars in Lima were Volkswagen Beetles. Jeans had not yet caught on so many people still wore traditional clothes. Tourists stayed only in Miraflores, always attached their belongings to the chairs with clips. Few went to the Plaza de Armas in Lima, those that braved it were rewarded with entering the front doors of the palace, with blue uniformed palace guards, for a free tour or independent wandering. The airport was tiny and the police took you to the washroom to search you. Almost impossible to find anyone with good English, but everyone was friendly and helpful. I remember it being so different, in so many ways, to what I was accustomed back home, a fascinating culture shock.

I went to a small village in the mountains. No restaurants so we had to ask a older lady to cook something for us. I asked her how many gringos visit the town. Her answer: none. No gringo had ever visited this village in her memory, the kids crowded around me out of curiosity, especially my blue eyes, while the parents pulled them away and told them not to stare, it was rude.


Teamoperu, I've worked out you must have first come to Peru about the same time as I did (1987?). I think you are looking back with slightly rose tinted glasses but agree with a lot of your sentiment. I remember my first 72 hrs in Peru like they were yesterday...Since I should be working I will tell it how I remember it

I arrive at lunchtime. On passing through customs at the airport a tourist guide saw me looking at my Rough Guide to Peru and and said he knew the author who came through there quite alot!. At that time they kept a list at the airport of places that put tourists up at different prices, do I got an address, a price $US5. I took the tourist bus service that took all tourists who wanted it to their hotel although it did take a while going round all the places. I remember thinking Lima looked like a big building site with all the building only half built, all the reinforcement sticking up in the air. I was taken to my hotel which was a little family run hotel in the centre of Lima the wrong side of Wilson. I remember being grateful that the room had no windows and a large padlock to lock the door on the inside. So I felt really safe. I had a couple hrs sleep and then decided to explore. It indicates my budget at the time that I thought $US5 was probably a bit expensive so I decided to check out the Europa Hotel near the Plaza de Armas. Part of it was I wanted a place with other tourists. I was the only gringo in the small family run hotel I was sent to.
I remember walking through the Jiron de Union and being blown away by the atmosphere, the look of the people, so much going on and new things to see.
I checked out the Hotel Europa and it was around 40cents a night which I couldn’t really believe but there had been lots of inflation recently. I decided to go there the next day .
I went back passing the Plaza de San Martin where there my guide book told me was a telephone place. There were small little kiosks with very old fashioned phones in them. Even then they looked really old, like from the 60s. You paid what seemed a lot of money and then got two minutes to call home. I spoke to my Dad, told him I had arrived safely and that all was well. “what time is it there?” he said. “6.30” I said. I realized it was late there and he was just going to bed. He would have been concerned about me and it showed in his voice. “Take care” he said. “I will, it is still light here” I said. I came out on to the Plaza San Martin and it was already dark. I wasn’t used to it getting dark that quickly.
I remember the next morning in the first hotel. There were chickens walking about the bathroom. Breakfast had nice bread but coffee was hot water with a strange cold syrupy coffee extract you put into it. At breakfast was a young guy from Iquitos who seemed as overwhelmed by the city as I was but we could communicate very little given my Spanish was still poor.
The next day I walked through central Lima with a full rucksack at around 6am to the Europa Hotel. Now I realize that was a pretty stupid thing to do on my first day in south America. But at the Europa I met a whole gang of other backpackers, a lot more experienced than me, and all was great. I got robbed on the third day in Peru but a young waiter chased the thief into the San Francisco church and somehow got my bag back. That was a good introduction to the best and worst of Peru.

Oh dear that was far too long. The joy of remembering. Back to work...



Ah, my very first day? Hard to remember after the red-eye flight. We were picked up at the airport to stay at the nunnery in Barranco by the old train and rail lines, of all places. Part of a volunteer group working to help the poor in Lima. We worked in the squatter invasion on the hill side, then called el chanchería (I think it is now Pamplona - San Juan de Miraflores). No water, no electricity, woven cane shacks, and yes, pigs. The third day I had explosive diarrhoea so bad I was put on a saline drip to rehydrate. Memories...
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Re: Your first Peru experience?

Postby Alan » Thu Oct 03, 2013 11:03 am

1986, flying in to Lima at night, arriving after curfew but with permission slips to drive to the hotel. The next day, as we drove out of town to head to the highlands, I snapped a picture of a military barracks from the window of our bus. Our Peruvian friends on the bus - all 18 to 20 year olds from the highlands - flipped out. I thought, naively, that it was a silly over reaction on their part. Dumb, dumb, dumb!
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Re: Your first Peru experience?

Postby Alpineprince » Thu Oct 03, 2013 2:54 pm

That's easy. I arrived after midnight and within 2 hours experienced "The greatest night of my life", next morning I woke up to :shock: my future wife!
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Re: Your first Peru experience?

Postby WBillSmith » Fri Oct 04, 2013 9:22 pm

During my first trip to Perú, I earned an Advanced Spanish Certificate from El Sol Spanish School in Miraflores. However, on weekends, I stayed with Perú's Ballumbrosio family in the District of El Carmen in Chincha, Ica where I fell in love with the community. And have gone back almost every year. I would make it my retirement home but I do not want to bring a lot of attention to me as a rich gringo living in the community. That could create more problems than I can “afford.”
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