Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Best o' Peru

I know I haven't done a mega-list for a long time, even though I enjoy making them. I guess it is time to change this situation.

Best O' Peru

1. Best place to take a shower: Puno.

 Ok, so I haven't been to Puno (I know, I know). But every person who has gone there raves about how awesome their hot shower was. At first I was chalking it up to some magical bathroom, but everyone has stayed at different hotels. Therefore, I have to assume that there must be....something in the water.  Seriously though - if you spend extended time in Peru you will know how beautiful a hot shower can be. It is the stuff of legend. Go to Puno.

2. Best smelling street food: Anticuchos de corazón.

You all know I'm a vegetarian (admittedly not the best one), and this means I have a hard time eating beef.  It is the smell that gets to me; cooked hamburger smells repulsive and like DEATH. But that is not the case with these little sticks of wonder.  My first summer in Peru, I spent about a week wondering what delicious siren was tempting my nostrils. Eventually, someone pointed out the cow hearts on a stick. I balked; I just couldn't do it. Lame, I know. Maybe one day I will be able to get over my mental block and taste these, for oh how they beckon me. 

3. Best pizza topping: Peaches.

In Ayacucho you can go to Magia Negra and get a Hawaiian pizza, but made with peaches and ham. I have done truly bizarre things to get this awesome, awesome pizza (but those are stories for another day). Before you scoff, I'd like to point out that you probably eat pineapple on your pizza. And pineapple only tastes half as good as peaches.

4. Best ancient Peruvian civilization: NOT THE INCA.

Yes, they are everywhere and everyone wants to talk about them. But before you visit Peru,  you should familiarize yourself with the long history of the Andes -- the history before the Incas.  Check out the amazing ceramics of the Moche, the Chimu textiles at Chan Chan, the awesome site of Cerro Baul in Moquegua, or the terraces and roads of the Wari Empire. The Inca are cool, but it makes me sad that everyone focuses in on such a small aspect of Andean history.

5. Best place to have an uncomfortable race moment: Lima airport. 

Yes, it means something like "Black women hands." 

6. Best place to have the most spectacular view of your life. Machu Picchu.

I know I took best civilization away from them, but damn, the Incas built one hell of a place up there.  Machu Picchu is simply fantastic; it is so beautiful my mind is still not convinced it is real.

I was lucky enough to go on a day where it was rainy, which made the trip more awesome in three ways. First, rain kept a lot of the tourists away and allowed for pictures without clusters of random strangers. Second, the weather made the whole place more mysterious (we were literally inside the rain clouds, as the mountain is so tall), and as you walked around you had the feeling that the Inca was going to walk from around a corner and stare you down. Awesome. And finally, the rain made the workings of the incredible drainage and fountain system  visible- this alone was worth the trip. Check the weather before you go, rain will be your friend.  

7. Best Souvenir: Llama Hat.

Nothing says "I'm a classy yet practical woman" like llamas frolicking upon your forehead. Get one for everyone you love. 

8. Best parasite: Giardia!

Two years running. Let's just leave it at that.

9. Best street vendor: The Shoelace Man.

He is in Arequipa and wears what appears to be a coat of shoelaces. Actually, the giant shoelace outfit makes him look somewhat like a yeti -- a bright, disco yeti. Apparently he really hates being a yeti, because he walks around yelling in a very, very angry voice. I can only imagine he is saying something like "buy these, goddammit. They are HEAVY." 
Photo Credit: Lucy O'Doherty

10. Best unexpected use of Disney music: Garbage trucks.

 Peruvian garbage trucks play music when they are driving around. I suppose this is to let people know that they need to run out and drop their bags on the corner.

Every truck and city has its own musical tastes. For example, Ayacucho appears to like patriotic sounds. Arequipa, on the other hand, digs the Disney tunes. I've heard the Little Mermaid theme and the Aladdin theme (the Ariel theme is actually really fitting - think about all the stuff she has in that movie. She needs a hoarder intervention).

I've even heard tales of Happy Hardcore Techno trucks (I really want to find this truck and have a flashmob rave around it).

So I leave you with this important life question: If you were a kickass garbage truck driver, what music would you play?


  1. I want.. STRIKE THAT... NEED a llama hat!

  2. I might own 3 llama hats, in varying colors so it will always match my outfit. I'll see if I can find you a cool one this summer. :)

  3. Me toooooo!! My goal this year is to buy bright purple shoelaces from him.