Hosting Visitors in Peru

0021One of the perks of living abroad in Peru is having friends and family come and visit you. It always feels like a blessing when people choose to travel from another country to spend time with you and visit Peru at the same time, so in order to ensure that this is a positive experience for everyone involved, here are a few tips:

 

IT’S ALL ABOUT PREPARATION

Let your visitors know ahead of time what they should pack and how much to bring with them; I still have flashbacks of lugging my Mum’s massive red suitcase on her first trip as we were “backpacking” around South America. As uncomfortable and impractical as it was to travel with, it should be acknowledged that she did fill it with artesanias, supporting the local communities and artesanos along the way. Most importantly though, make sure your future visitors are well informed about the micro-climates in Peru; the heat and mosquitos, the cold and the altitude that they will encounter along the way. The best advice you can give them is not to bring flashy jewelry, clothes or valuable personal possessions that they would be too upset about being separated from. There are greater disparities between people who are wealthy and people who have very little here, which means higher rates of petty crimes and theft.

 

KNOWLEDGE IS EVERYTHING

Take extra precautions and don’t assume that your visitors are as street-wise as you are, as you have already gained valuable knowledge from living here. Once again it was my Mum who filled her coin purse with a sizable amount of cash in Cuzco, planning to splurge it at the local market. Unfortunately though, she had it precariously tucked into the back pocket of her jeans, and by the time we got to Pisac someone on the bus had already taken possession of it. So make sure your guests are informed about the risks and take extra precautions, for example in taxis, don’t keep your handbag or even all your luggage next to you, particularly coming out of the airport as someone can stick their hand in the vehicle and separate you from it very quickly. For the majority of visitors to Peru their first stop is Lima and inevitably the airport, so if you can’t pick them up yourself make sure you have a safe taxi waiting for them inside the terminal, as the airport is notorious for robberies and sadly many involve taxi drivers. On a lighter note, if it’s your guest’s first trip to a Latin country let them know about the cultural differences such as kissing someone on the cheek as oppose to shaking their hand when you are first introduced or see one another, as this is the common way of greeting people here.

 

Chivay, a village in the Colca Canyon

Chivay, a village in the Colca Canyon

PROVINCIAL AREAS

Lima is a modern city, however once you step into the provincial areas there is a lack of access to many basic things so prepare yourself and your visitors before you get there. Things to keep in mind are the lack of ATM’s (and currency exchanges), modern supermarkets, pharmacies (small ones are run out of people’s houses but they are not fully stocked with all medications) and in general everything will be much slower and more relaxed. Due to the informal public transport systems waiting times can be difficult to estimate, so don’t make travel plans that rely on a tight schedule and easy connections. When people come to visit the north of Peru I always provide them with the precautions they need to take to avoid contracting dengue, which is basically to avoid getting bitten by mosquitos. This means always using a good quality repellent, mosquito coils and always sleeping with a mosquito net. Make sure you hotel room has a mosquito net and a fan, especially during the summer. Although less noticeable in affluent parts of Lima, access to water is a daily struggle for many people here so be super conscious about conserving it and encourage your visitors to do the same; particularly in provincial areas where water is only delivered every few days. We should really be like this the world over as it is becoming our most valuable resource and scarcer every day.

 

TRANSALATOR & GUIDE

Unless your guests speak Spanish well, you will find yourself in the role of translator, from the big conversations with all of the friends and family you introduce them to, to all of the small daily tasks such as buying artesanias in a market or checking in to a hotel. It is exhausting, so be prepared to really go out of your way to make your visitors feel comfortable by navigating this language barrier for them. As always when someone comes to visit you, especially if they are new to your city or town, it is up to you to be the tour guide and show them all the wonderful places your home has to offer. This is even more the case when you host visitors in Peru, albeit a temporary home you are still the knowledgeable one and a source of information. So don’t just take them to the places that are listed in the tour guide, make the most of your insider’s knowledge and take them to the little spots that make this place special for you.

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About the author: Ellie Ryan is an Aussie expat working and living in Peru. She is the Founder of TEFL Zorritos, a TEFL training institute that trains people to become English language teachers and places them in positions in Peru and abroad. 

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A Positive Expat Tale About Peru

IMG_4675Sadly, expat forums, groups and websites are often filled with cautionary tales of negative experiences in Peru; getting robbed by taxi drivers or thieves on the street or being cheated out of money by locals. However, when we have a decidedly positive experience here we are not as inspired to take to the social networks about it. This article is about one of my past TEFL trainees, who for the purpose of this article we’ll call Cindy. Cindy had a stroke of good luck and positive karma involving locals and I promised her that if this story had a happy ending, I would share it with our readers, so here it is.

 

Cindy is an ex-horse-riding instructor from New York who has come to Peru with her Peruvian husband and crew of young children to take a TEFL course. Her idea is to get qualified, gain some experience and then step into the world of English teaching in order to be able to live in Peru long-term. She speaks some basic Spanish and each day she seems to discover something new about this little provincial town which makes her smile; her positivity is quite inspiring. Due to an important meeting, Cindy needed to fly back to New York so she travelled across the border to fly from Guayaquil to Quito and then on to JFK. The whole trip went smoothly which was a relief as it was the first time she’d travelled alone in South America, and her time schedule was so tight that it left no room for error; so many things could have gone wrong but they didn’t. On the way home she decided to buy a new laptop; although she wasn’t very computer literate she was two weeks into a course which required using one every day so it was definitely a necessity. When Cindy finally arrived in Zorritos she quickly hopped off the bus, excited to see her husband and girls again, and without realizing it left the bag with her laptop and her iPad on the seat of the bus.

 

Our September 2015 Course

By the time Cindy realized what she had done the bus had already left, so she quickly hailed a taxi and made the forty-five minute trip to Mancora, which was the bus’ next stop. Unfortunately, by the time they’d arrived the bus had already continued on its way, so they explained to the man in the office, Jorge, what had happened. Jorge made a call to the bus attendant and she confirmed that the bag was on the seat, but didn’t mention what was inside. So the next day as Cindy was working away in her TEFL course, her husband Santiago went back to the Cifa office in Mancora, only to be told that the attendant who had found it was now in Tumbes and that he should come back in the afternoon. He spent the morning killing time, however when he returned to the office Jorge told him that there had been some misunderstanding and the bag was actually now in Tumbes. He began to feel suspicious and felt that he was getting the run around and said “If you don’t have it, just tell me, don’t play games.” Jorge, however, assured Santiago that it wasn’t a game and that if they hadn’t wanted to return the bag they would have told him the in the beginning. So Santiago put his trust in Jorge’s words and caught another bus back up to Tumbes which was an hour and a half away. When he arrived at Cifa’s office he almost couldn’t believe his luck when they handed over the grey zip-up bag containing his wife’s brand new laptop and iPad.

 

Our September 2015 Course

Cindy returned to her class the next day and amazed her classmates with the story; they were all foreigners who had lived or traveled in Peru and the majority doubted that her possessions would be returned to her in such an honest manner. Not only was this outcome dependent upon the honesty of Jorge in the Cifa office, but also upon the attendant who had originally found the bag and every other employee that had come into contact with the bag throughout its long journey.

 

The internet has made the whole world more connected and allowed us to communicate in a way that was undreamed of in the past, however it is all too often an infinite space which can be filled with negative stories and tales. Without a doubt, it is important to be conscious of your personal security in Peru, but to also remember that it is a huge country filled with good honest people too, just like the countries we’ve all come from.

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About the author: Ellie Ryan is an Aussie expat working and living in Peru. She is the Founder of TEFL Zorritos, a TEFL training institute which trains people to become English language teachers and places them in positions in Peru and abroad.

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What You Need To Know Before Coming To Peru

Peru is an incredible country to visit, so in order to make sure your trip is as pleasurable as possible, here are some insider tips about what to pack, what to leave at home and what to expect once you’re here.

 

Lake_Titicaca_on_the_Andes_from_BoliviaEVER PRECIOUS WATER 

Firstly, you mustn’t drink the water here; stay on the safe side and buy bottled water wherever you go. When you drink the refresco that comes with your menu or order a jugo from a cafe, it will be made with boiled water which is generally not a big issue. All the same, you should always keep some stomach medicine on hand because you will inevitably get a small, or big, bout of Peruvian belly at some point. Water scarcity is also a huge issue and a daily struggle for many Peruvians, so be considerate of this and conserve water as much as you can, particularly in provincial areas or outlying parts of Lima where water is only delivered every few days. If you’re in a small town be sure to ask what the situation is and if hot water is very important to you, confirm that your hostel or hotel definitely has it. Particularly in parts of Peru with a warmer climate, the majority of houses and hostels do not have hot water as it’s not considered a necessity. However saying that, you can also be caught off-guard with hot water in Lima, Cusco and Arequipa so to avoid any problems check the water temperature when you first inspect the room.oweHow

 

LEAVE THE BLING AT HOME

Peru, like many South American countries, has a huge disparity between the wealthy and the poor and unfortunately this means higher levels of petty crime. As a general rule it is best not to bring anything with you that you would be too upset to lose of possession of, such as expensive electronics or accessories. It is also a good to idea to dress and act respectfully in order to avoid drawing unwanted attention to yourself, so leave the gold jewelry and expensive clothes at home.

  

Ceviche de Conchas Negras

Ceviche de Conchas Negras

TOILET ETIQUETTE

Many establishments don’t provide toilet paper and well equipped public toilets are the exception and not the rule in Peru. So be sure to take toilet paper anywhere and everywhere you go, the best thing is to keep a roll handy in your daypack or handbag. If you’re having difficulty finding a public toilet you can always ask in a restaurant or a bar if you can use their bathroom and for S/1 they will allow you to. Once you make it to a bathroom you may notice a sign advising you not to flush your toilet paper down the toilet, and to put it in the rubbish bin provided. This is the case not only in Peru but across South America, in all toilets, public and private. And last but not least, if you’re finicky about hygiene, carry antibacterial gel with you because soap is even rarer than toilet paper is.

 

HEALTH & BEAUTY

Small ailments generally don’t require a trip to a doctor in this corner of the world; you can head to your local pharmacy or botica (an informal pharmacy, at times run out of the front of someone’s house) as a lot of prescription medicine is sold over the counter here. Outside of Lima it’s difficult to find beauty and personal care items (including vitamin supplements), so be sure to stock up on your favorite brands before you get on the plane.

 

Chivay, a village in the Colca Canyon

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE MONEY

The national currency is soles and although some places may accept dollars, it is not to be assumed that this is the case everywhere so you are best to change your money. Contrary to what some expat forums may state, unless you are in the far north of Peru and close to the Ecuadorian border, the majority of people don’t accept dollars and if they do you will be given a low rate. It’s also important to be aware of fake currency, both in dollars and soles, so it’s a good idea to learn how to check if a bill is the real deal. Make an effort to pay with smaller bills and change your money in a casa de cambio as oppose to on the street. Outside of major cities many places only accept cash and there will be limited access to ATMs, particularly in small provincial towns, so plan your cash flow in advance.

 

Peru will undoubtedly amaze and inspire you and to make the most of your stay, be well prepared and do a little research about Peru before you come. It’s also highly recommended to try to arrive with at least some basic Spanish, as it will help to facilitate your everyday transactions and make the experience even richer by allowing you to communicate with locals.

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About the author: Ellie Ryan is an Aussie expat working and living in Peru. She is the Founder of TEFL Zorritos, a TEFL training institute which trains people to become English language teachers and places them in positions in Peru and abroad. _____________________________________________________________________________

 

Culture Shock When Living Abroad in Peru

Culture shock defines itself as a feeling of disorientation when experiencing an unfamiliar way of life, often when travelling or living in a foreign country, and it can be an inevitable part of living abroad. Its effects are limited for short-term travelers who are simply passing through, however if you decide to stay and live in a foreign country, it can be a small challenge that you face on a daily basis. Lima, the main arrival point for most expats and probably the most popular destination for expats to live in, can be overwhelming to say the least. The moment you step off the plane you are confronted by the noise, traffic, pollution and the generally chaotic nature that defines most South American cities. Here are some simple tips to help you adapt and orientate yourself in order to reduce the effect of culture shock on your wonderful new life in Peru:

 

Learn Spanish

Learn Spanish and practice it every opportunity you get. Not only are Peruvians very receptive to you attempting to communicate in their language, it is also the key to connecting to and becoming a part of the local community. Even though struggling to navigate your way through a new language can be daunting, it is a vital step in the process of learning to not only survive but really enjoy life here. It will make daily life much less stressful and easier to navigate and allow you to develop new relationships with everyone from your neighbours to the cute guy on the bus.

 

Community

Become a part of your local community and make an effort to make friends with the locals. Go to local restaurants and bars and discover the culture that Peruvians enjoy; give your Spanish a work out and ask new friends and acquaintances for their personal recommendations, as a local’s tip is worth its weight in gold. It’s great to take pleasure in the familiarity and ease of company of fellow expats, but if they are the only people in your social circle you are limiting the possibilities of your experience abroad, not to mention not doing your Spanish any favours.

 

Street Smart

Get street smart and avoid running into problems. Crime is a problem in Peru so it’s best to accept the reality of the situation, be aware of the risks and practice caution. When travelling to any country with higher rates of poverty than your home country, it’s always wise to avoid calling attention to yourself by using flashy jewellery, expensive clothing and accessories. Inform yourself of risks and dangers so as to avoid them; only catch taxis which are registered and be sure to agree on the price before getting in, don’t pay for taxi fares with big notes as they may be switched for fake currency and if you feel vulnerable in a taxi call a friend during the journey telling them where you are and the number of the driver. Small things like this can make a difference and knowledge is key to avoid being caught out as a naive foreigner.

 

Educate Yourself

Educate yourself about culture and politics; make an effort to keep up to date with the local and national news so that you know what’s happening in Peru. Gain some knowledge about recent history and how Peru has developed, as it’s easier to not be judgmental when you have more of an understanding of why things happen and how the country has grown and developed over time.

 

Leave Your Expectations At The Door

Don’t expect things to work in the same way as they do in your home country nor should you judge Peru by comparing it to where what you’re used to. These unrealistic expectations will guarantee disappointment and limit your opportunities to try something new. Patience, understanding, flexibility and a little empathy will get you a long way and help you to be open to everything being completely and delightfully different.

 

Open Mind

And last but certainly not least, keep an open mind and an understanding heart. Always remember that you have chosen to leave the relative comfort of your home country, and you should therefore leave all of your expectations back home so that you can truly embrace all of the new experiences that life here will bring you.

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About the author: Ellie Ryan is an Aussie expat working and living in Peru. She is the Founder of TEFL Zorritos, a TEFL training institute which trains people to become English language teachers and places them in positions in Peru and abroad.

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Living in the Developing World in Peru

sunset-club-photo-3Once you choose to live abroad in Peru one of the main questions you will be faced with from family and friends is to explain why. You can expound as much as you like about the culture and lifestyle, the people and food, nevertheless it will often come down to justifying why you choose to live in the developing world as oppose to the relative comfort of your first world home country. There are many positive reasons that motivate and inspire people to call Peru their home, so here are a few of mine, which as an expat in Peru you may be able to relate to.

Housing Affordability

Surprisingly enough, Peru offers access to affordable housing, a fundamental basic human right which is slowly disappearing back home in Australia. Coming from a country which has seen a 20% rise in the cost of houses in the last two years, which subsequently means inflated and often unaffordable rental prices, access to a reasonably priced rental property relative to income is not just a luxury but a necessity. Living in a small provincial town I have sacrificed small luxuries such as running hot water (although I live in a climate of eternal summer) and shopping at a modern supermarket, however I appreciate having access to housing which doesn’t force me to work like a slave just to pay the rent.

 

0021Lifestyle

Australia is known as ‘The Lucky Country’, a title it deserves due to it’s natural beauty, resources and the opportunities that it offers its inhabitants. However, it is also one of the most expensive countries in the world and the cost of everyday items from coffee to clothes is constantly increasing. When we’re not working hard Aussies are famous for playing hard, however this is an expensive luxury which is becoming less and less accessible. A couple of glasses of wine in a bar, followed by take-away and a taxi home will easily set you back $100, so we are often sacrificing our lifestyle because of the outrageous cost. One of the things I most value about life in the north of Peru is how easy and relatively inexpensive it is to relax in my free time. We go to the beach and the pool, eat ceviche and share a cold beer with friends without breaking the bank, and this ability to easily and affordably enjoy ourselves has a positive effect on the overall lifestyle one can enjoy. It’s certainly simplicity over grandeur, yet the simple things in life can often be the most pleasurable.

 

Entrepreneurial Opportunities

Peruvians, and South Americans in general, are incredibly industrious and inventive and I am consistently impressed by their ability to survive and prosper despite the lack of support and services from their government. Peru is filled with entrepreneurs and it allows its lucky expats to endeavor to do the same. A lack of regulations and the enforcement of laws undoubtedly has negative repercussions, however there is also a positive side as a less regulated society allows people the opportunity to think outside the box and start their own businesses, keeping the entrepreneurial spirit alive.

 

Life is for Living

Not only Peruvians, but latinos in general are famous for knowing how to appreciate life and seek the simple pleasures such as spending time with family and friends, eating well, dancing and laughing. Peruvians work long hours and many face a daily struggle to keep their head above water, however when they have the opportunity to relax, to celebrate a special occasion or festival or to just enjoy a beer and share a laugh, they relish it. Life here can be challenging but the reward is being part of a society where people live and breathe their culture and history.

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About the author: Ellie Ryan is an Aussie expat working and living in Peru. She is the Founder of TEFL Zorritos, a TEFL training institute which trains people to become English language teachers and places them in positions in Peru and abroad. 

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5 Must-Sees and Dos in Mancora

Mancora has long been known as the most desirable tourist destination on the far north coast of Peru; a small surfing town, which has over the years evolved as a popular spot thanks to the Peruvians, foreigners, and surfers that have it made it their home.

Mancora offers what many small towns in the north haven’t managed to achieve yet – good quality food covering both Peruvian and international cuisine, basic everyday necessities that are essential to tourists and those that are luxuries – plenty of ATMs, supermarkets, pharmacies, markets to purchase local clothes and artesanias, restaurants with Happy Hours galore and tour agencies everywhere you turn.

Punta Ballenas-Balcony of BungalowLiving so close to Mancora I’ve often dismissed it in the same way locals in my small town do; it’s too touristy, too expensive thanks to all the tourist traps and not really worth my time. I’d become accustomed to making a trip once every few months, often on a special occasion, to eat at one of the best restaurants the north has to offer and then head back home the same night. This all changed in a recent trip I made with my family; with my Mum and sister visiting from Australia it became apparent very quickly that despite Zorritos’ simple charms it just isn’t designed to cater for discerning tourists and foreigners who need life’s creature comforts close at hand. So here are some of the special things we discovered in Mancora.

 

La Sirena de Juan

Peru is all about food and Mancora is all about La Sirena de Juan. La Sirena de Juan has the reputation for being one of the best restaurants on the northern coast and deservedly so. Basing its menu in fresh, local ingredients, particularly tuna, it offers a gourmet twist on traditional Peruvian and international dishes. The stand out dishes are the tiradito nikkei, a unique interpretation of the Peruvian classic using super thin slices of fresh tuna, sesame oil, soy sauce, fresh chilli and accompanied with glazed sweet potato, you will be controlling yourself not to lick the plate. The grilled octopus served with lentils is to die for and everything that octopus should be; fresh enough that it smoothly melts in your mouth with a surprisingly rich flavor. For a main dish the lightly grilled tuna steak served with polenta and porcini mushrooms is an absolute delight and for something a little more Italian the osso buco is also delicious. If you have room for dessert their nutella mousse and apple crumble are really good. The only thing letting La Sirena de Juan down is their wine list, offering over-priced very ordinary Chilean and Argentinean wines. So it is worth paying the corkage (S/30 per bottle) and buying a great drop such as the Chilean Cousiño Macul Carménère for S/35 at the bottle shop across the road, a wine that deserves to be shared with such wonderful food.

 

Another Northern SunsetLa Bajadita

Tucked away behind giant bougainvillea bushes on the main street opposite the artesania market, it can be easy to miss La Bajadita. However once it is discovered you’ll be asking yourself why you weren’t there every day. Food is varied from the standard Peruvian dishes to sandwiches, salads and pastas and the variety of dishes we tried were all well prepared and above average, however what really stands out are the desserts. All of them are lovingly homemade and reasonably priced offering everything from carrot cake to a variety of cheesecakes, brownies and pecan pie. Highly recommended with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

 

Punta Ballenas

One of the first hotels established in Mancora, Punta Ballenas is bit of a local icon. Although it has more of a hostel than a hotel feel, Punta Ballenas offers comfortable accommodation right on the ocean. The dining room and family bungalow are literally on the water and over breakfast you can enjoy watching the surfers catch the breaks and feel the salt from the ocean on your cheek. A great spot for families due to its pool and the quiet beach to the left of the property, it is close enough to town that you can walk into the centre but far enough away that you can find peace and tranquility.

 

Las Tortugas

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Taking a tour to El Nuro beach to swim with the giant turtles is a must when you’re in Mancora. As touristy and predictable of a thing to do it really is a special experience and Iguana Tours were worth paying S/70 per person. The tour included a full half an hour in the water swimming with the surprisingly friendly turtles, goggles and a mask to dive with, videos and photos of your experience topped off with a thrilling spin out on the water in a big yellow dinghy.

 

Horse-Riding

Horse-Riding FunOn Mancora’s main beach in between the sprukers, surfers and backpackers you’ll always find horses for a romantic horseback ride along the beach. Prices vary from S/10 for 20 minutes to S/15 for half an hour so make you negotiate first and keep your eye on your watch. My son was so enthralled by the experience that he insisted on being bought a señor-style hat and going for a ride every afternoon which was quite a special experience.

Mancora is touristy and occasionally a little superficial due to its touristic nature, however it is also filled with hidden delights and can be a lovely spot for a get away.

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About the author: Ellie Ryan is an Aussie expat working and living in Peru. She is the Founder of TEFL Zorritos, a TEFL training institute which trains people to become English language teachers and places them in positions in Peru and abroad. She is also the Founder of TEFL Zorritos English Institute, the first ever English institute in the small northern town of Zorritos.

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Hosting Visitors in Peru

One of the perks of living abroad in Peru is having friends and family come and visit you. It always feels like a blessing when people choose to travel from another country to spend time with you and visit Peru at the same time, so in order to ensure that this is a positive experience for everyone involved, here are a few tips:

 

IT’S ALL ABOUT PREPARATION

Let your visitors know ahead of time what they should pack and how much to bring with them; I still have flashbacks of lugging my Mum’s massive red suitcase on her first trip as we were “backpacking” around South America. As uncomfortable and impractical as it was to travel with, it should be acknowledged that she did fill it with artesanias, supporting the local communities and artesanos along the way. Most importantly though, make sure your future visitors are well informed about the micro-climates in Peru; the heat and mosquitos, the cold and the altitude that they will encounter along the way. The best advice you can give them is not to bring flashy jewelry, clothes or valuable personal possessions that they would be too upset about being separated from. There are greater disparities between people who are wealthy and people who have very little here, which means higher rates of petty crimes and theft.

 

KNOWLEDGE IS EVERYTHING

Take extra precautions and don’t assume that your visitors are as street-wise as you are, as you have already gained valuable knowledge from living here. Once again it was my Mum who filled her coin purse with a sizable amount of cash in Cuzco, planning to splurge it at the local market. Unfortunately though, she had it precariously tucked into the back pocket of her jeans, and by the time we got to Pisac someone on the bus had already taken possession of it. So make sure your guests are informed about the risks and take extra precautions, for example in taxis, don’t keep your handbag or even all your luggage next to you, particularly coming out of the airport as someone can stick their hand in the vehicle and separate you from it very quickly. For the majority of visitors to Peru their first stop is Lima and inevitably the airport, so if you can’t pick them up yourself make sure you have a safe taxi waiting for them inside the terminal, as the airport is notorious for robberies and sadly many involve taxi drivers. On a lighter note, if it’s your guest’s first trip to a Latin country let them know about the cultural differences such as kissing someone on the cheek as oppose to shaking their hand when you are first introduced or see one another, as this is the common way of greeting people here.

 

PROVINCIAL AREAS

Lima is a modern city, however once you step into the provincial areas there is a lack of access to many basic things so prepare yourself and your visitors before you get there. Things to keep in mind are the lack of ATM’s (and currency exchanges), modern supermarkets, pharmacies (small ones are run out of people’s houses but they are not fully stocked with all medications) and in general everything will be much slower and more relaxed. Due to the informal public transport systems waiting times can be difficult to estimate, so don’t make travel plans that rely on a tight schedule and easy connections. When people come to visit the north of Peru I always provide them with the precautions they need to take to avoid contracting dengue, which is basically to avoid getting bitten by mosquitos. This means always using a good quality repellent, mosquito coils and always sleeping with a mosquito net. Make sure you hotel room has a mosquito net and a fan, especially during the summer. Although less noticeable in affluent parts of Lima, access to water is a daily struggle for many people here so be super conscious about conserving it and encourage your visitors to do the same; particularly in provincial areas where water is only delivered every few days. We should really be like this the world over as it is becoming our most valuable resource and scarcer every day.

 

TRANSALATOR & GUIDE

Unless your guests speak Spanish well, you will find yourself in the role of translator, from the big conversations with all of the friends and family you introduce them to, to all of the small daily tasks such as buying artesanias in a market or checking in to a hotel. It is exhausting, so be prepared to really go out of your way to make your visitors feel comfortable by navigating this language barrier for them. As always when someone comes to visit you, especially if they are new to your city or town, it is up to you to be the tour guide and show them all the wonderful places your home has to offer. This is even more the case when you host visitors in Peru, albeit a temporary home you are still the knowledgeable one and a source of information. So don’t just take them to the places that are listed in the tour guide, make the most of your insider’s knowledge and take them to the little spots that make this place special for you.

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About the author: Ellie Ryan is an Aussie expat working and living in Peru. She is the Founder of TEFL Zorritos, a TEFL training institute that trains people to become English language teachers and places them in positions in Peru and abroad. She is also the Founder of TEFL Zorritos English Institute, the first ever English institute in the small northern town of Zorritos. This article was originally published on the Living in Peru website as part of her Expat Ellie blog series.

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How to Network in Peru

One of the most important parts of settling into a new place, whether it be for the short or long term, is meeting people and making friends. When it’s a foreign country you’re trying to find your feet in then trying to learn the local language is also a top priority. So let’s take a look at some of the best ways of making friends and connections in Peru, and improving your Spanish along the way.

Meetup

Meetup prides itself as being the world’s largest network of local groups, with 24 million members in 180 countries. Its objective is to facilitate the organizing of local groups and to allow people to participate in groups that already exist. So you can create your own group in your local area or join one of the already existing 9,000 groups.

The mission of Meetup is to reinvigorate and in a way, resurrect the idea of local community by allowing people around the world to self-organize and come together based on shared interests. This mission is based on a belief that people can change their personal world, or the whole world, by organizing themselves into groups that are powerful enough to make a difference.

So how exactly does it work? Without the necessity of signing up you can browse the existing groups in your area or search for groups according to their topic, such as book clubs or lovers of photography. Each group has a summary of its objective, the number of members it has, who the organizer is and you can even read reviews of the group provided by members. If you are interested in the group then you can contact them directly, which will require you to sign up and become a Meetup member first.

 

Mundo Lingo Language Exchange

Mundo Lingo is similar to Meetup in the sense that it connects people, however their mission is focused on promoting stronger links between locals and foreigners through language exchange activities. Priding themselves on diversity, they welcome people of all ages, nationalities and language levels. The process is simple, the events are free and don’t require prior registration and they’re held in the same place at the same time every week.

Mundo Lingo currently runs what they call “language socials” in 13 cities over 5 continents and they are continuing to grow. They aim to expand into more cities so that travelers can start meeting locals from the moment they get off the plane.

Mundo Lingo events are fully staffed and upon arrival at the venue you are provided with flags to stick on your chest, indicating which languages you speak, with your native language starting at the top and the other flags in order of ability. During the event the idea is that by standing up you are indicating your willingness and availability to meet new people, and once you’ve met someone you’d like to have a private conversation with, then you sit down together.

 

For those of you already in Lima, Mundo Lingo holds their language exchange n Wednesdays in Miraflores at El Patagonia, Bolivar 164 from 8pm until close.

 

Useful Sites & Pages

If you’re looking at staying in Peru for an extended period of time there are some useful websites, such as Expat Peru, which not only provides lots of useful information but also has forums where people can ask for information, post rental places available and other types of classified listings. The How to Peru website is also worth checking out, it offers interesting articles about travel destinations, useful travel-related information and experiences that you can enjoy in Peru. Facebook is also a good option; there are a number of groups such as Peru for Young Expats, Expatriates in Peru, Living in Lima – Expat Support and Expat Entrepreneurs in Peru. These groups tend to a little dominated by and more focused on expats living in Lima, however there are members living in other parts of Peru. For those looking to network with other expat entrepreneurs this group has a monthly meet up in Miraflores, generally at the Irish bar Houlihans.

 

Language Exchange with a Local

And last but certainly not least, a wonderful way to improve your Spanish and to get to know locals is through a language exchange. This can be as simple as meeting up with a local and exchanging an hour of language practice with one another, not only does this help with your language skills but it’s a brilliant way of getting to know someone and finding out about what their life here is like. More often than not you’ll be able to learn much more from each other than just some new words.

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About the author: Ellie Ryan is an Aussie expat working and living in Peru. She is the Founder of TEFL Zorritos, a TEFL training institute which trains people to become English language teachers and places them in positions in Peru and abroad. She is also the Founder of TEFL Zorritos English Institute, the first ever English institute in the small northern town of Zorritos. This article was originally published on the Living in Peru website as part of her Expat Ellie blog series.

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What You Need to Know Before Coming to Peru

Peru is an incredible country to visit, so in order to make sure your trip is as pleasurable as possible, here are some insider tips about what to pack, what to leave at home and what to expect once you’re here.

EVER PRECIOUS WATER

Firstly, you mustn’t drink the water here; stay on the safe side and buy bottled water wherever you go. When you drink the refresco that comes with your menu or order a jugo from a cafe, it will be made with boiled water which is generally not a big issue. All the same, you should always keep some stomach medicine on hand because you will inevitably get a small, or big, bout of Peruvian belly at some point. Water scarcity is also a huge issue and a daily struggle for many Peruvians, so be considerate of this and conserve water as much as you can, particularly in provincial areas or outlying parts of Lima where water is only delivered every few days. If you’re in a small town be sure to ask what the situation is and if hot water is very important to you, confirm that your hostel or hotel definitely has it. Particularly in parts of Peru with a warmer climate, the majority of houses and hostels do not have hot water as it’s not considered a necessity. However saying that, you can also be caught off-guard with hot water in Lima, Cusco and Arequipa so to avoid any problems check the water temperature when you first inspect the room.

LEAVE THE BLING AT HOME

Peru, like many South American countries, has a huge disparity between the wealthy and the poor and unfortunately this means higher levels of petty crime. As a general rule it is best not to bring anything with you that you would be too upset to lose of possession of, such as expensive electronics or accessories. It is also a good to idea to dress and act respectfully in order to avoid drawing unwanted attention to yourself, so leave the gold jewelry and expensive clothes at home. 

TOILET ETIQUETTE

Many establishments don’t provide toilet paper and well equipped public toilets are the exception and not the rule in Peru. So be sure to take toilet paper anywhere and everywhere you go, the best thing is to keep a roll handy in your daypack or handbag. If you’re having difficulty finding a public toilet you can always ask in a restaurant or a bar if you can use their bathroom and for S/1 they will allow you to. Once you make it to a bathroom you may notice a sign advising you not to flush your toilet paper down the toilet, and to put it in the rubbish bin provided. This is the case not only in Peru but across South America, in all toilets, public and private. And last but not least, if you’re finicky about hygiene, carry antibacterial gel with you because soap is even rarer than toilet paper is.

HEALTH & BEAUTY

Small ailments generally don’t require a trip to a doctor in this corner of the world; you can head to your local pharmacy or botica (an informal pharmacy, at times run out of the front of someone’s house) as a lot of prescription medicine is sold over the counter here. Outside of Lima it’s difficult to find beauty and personal care items (including vitamin supplements), so be sure to stock up on your favorite brands before you get on the plane.

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE MONEY

The national currency is soles and although some places may accept dollars, it is not to be assumed that this is the case everywhere so you are best to change your money. Contrary to what some expat forums may state, unless you are in the far north of Peru and close to the Ecuadorian border, the majority of people don’t accept dollars and if they do you will be given a low rate.  It’s also important to be aware of fake currency, both in dollars and soles, so it’s a good idea to learn how to check if a bill is the real deal. Make an effort to pay with smaller bills and change your money in a casa de cambio as oppose to on the street. Outside of major cities many places only accept cash and there will be limited access to ATMs, particularly in small provincial towns, so plan your cash flow in advance.

Peru will undoubtedly amaze and inspire you and to make the most of your stay, be well prepared and do a little research about Peru before you come. It’s also highly recommended to try to arrive with at least some basic Spanish, as it will help to facilitate your everyday transactions and make the experience even richer by allowing you to communicate with locals.

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About the author: Ellie Ryan is an Aussie expat working and living in Peru. She is the Founder of TEFL Zorritos, a TEFL training institute which trains people to become English language teachers and places them in positions in Peru and abroad. She is also the Founder of TEFL Zorritos English Institute, the first ever English institute in the small northern town of Zorritos. This article was originally published on the Living in Peru website as part of her Expat Ellie blog series. 

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Giving Birth in Peru

One of our most popular recent articles was Anastasia’s story of being pregnant in Peru. We will now continue her story as she takes us through her experience of giving birth in Peru.

How did my happy pregnancy end? In the most absolutely unpredictable way possible. The most important thing is that I was blessed with a healthy, cute baby as a result, nevertheless giving birth for the first time was not what I expected. It was much faster and much more stressful; I expected it to be a long challenge and it turned out to be a marathon, which consumed every part of my mind and body. The main point of advice I would have given myself six months ago would have been to start reading about what starts happening to your body and the baby in the last few days of pregnancy.

But on a practical note here are some things that you should organize carefully, taking into account that I had only been living in Peru for a year and a half prior to my pregnancy and I had poor Spanish and no medical insurance.

Firstly, look for hospitals that are closest to where you live, otherwise you’ll need to forget about trying to deliver during peak hour, due to Lima’s congested and chaotic traffic. To get stuck in your car in traffic during contractions is not a positive start to the experience. Many drivers do not respect ambulances and I was unpleasantly surprised to learn that it is not uncommon to keep women in hospital with false contractions in order to control the timing of the birth.

It is advisable to have an extra doctor just in case; my doctor was very unhappy that I went into labor late at night, my contractions were every five to seven minutes however I was still able to walk between each one. When I arrived at the hospital in San Isidro the obstetrician sent me home and asked me to come back at nine o’clock in the morning, being a more respectable hour.

Make sure you have someone, and preferably more than one person if possible, who can stay with you throughout the entire process. My bed was moved without even removing the drip from my hand, no one ever asked me if I was comfortable and I was left alone for quite a long time. Half of the work which you’d expect to be carried out by a nurse had to be taken care of by my husband, which also turned out to be the case post-delivery.

Try to maintain contact with a second doctor during labor in order to give you a second opinion. You will not be given much room to make your own decisions, however it may be something urgent in which a second opinion is incredibly valuable, for example deciding when to go to hospital. The sanitary and health care rules of the hospital will be far from your expectations; my husband and I were never asked about HIV, hepatitis or other infectious diseases. I was shocked that during the delivery, and right up until the umbilical cord was cut, that the attending staff entered the room dressed in their normal clothes. This was also the case post-delivery and when they had contact with my newborn baby. Allow me to remind you that this was in one of the wealthiest suburbs in Lima, in a hospital that claimed top quality and service standards.

You will need extra cash, food, water, drugs and clothes on hand, my doctor did not provide us with a list of things that we should’ve taken to the hospital. The hospital provides almost everything however there was never enough and it wasn’t very good quality. I ended up being hungry, thirsty and using my own painkillers and night dress. You are also charged for every single extra thing you ask the nurse for.

Push your doctor to discuss the contract and possible extra costs prior to delivery and be prepared to repeat your personal details ten times. I was lucky that I had my husband to deal with the non-stop bureaucracy, as contractions tend to make you less willing to constantly spell your name or explain your profession.

Last but certainly not least, be prepared to give your baby a name before it is even born. I was very surprised to be asked this a few hours before my daughter was born. Giving birth may be the hardest thing you’ve ever done in your life but just know that your baby is working just as hard as you are, in a rush to meet you!

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About the author: Ellie Ryan is an Aussie expat working and living in Peru. She is the Founder of TEFL Zorritos, a TEFL training institute which trains people to become English language teachers and places them in positions in Peru and abroad. She is also the Founder of TEFL Zorritos English Institute, the first ever English institute in the small northern town of Zorritos. This article was originally published on the Living in Peru website as part of her Expat Ellie blog series.  

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