These are frequently written with just the street name and number: for example, Pizarro 135. Officially, though, they’re usually prefixed by Calle, Jirón (street) or Avenida. The first digit of any street number (or sometimes the first two digits) represents the block number within the street as a whole. Note too that many of the major streets in Lima and also in Cusco have two names – in Lima this is a relic of the military governments of the 1970s, in Cusco it’s more to do with a revival of the Inca past.


We arrange any kind of adventure activities within Peru so feels free to contact us


Traditional craft goods from most regions of Peru can be found in markets and shops in Lima. Woollen and alpaca products, though, are usually cheaper and often better quality in the sierra – particularly in Cusco, Juliaca and Puno; carved gourds are imported from around Huancayo, while the best places to buy ceramic replicas are Trujillo, Huaraz, Ica and Nasca. Jungle crafts are best from Pucallpa and Iquitos.


In markets and with taxi drivers (before getting in), you are generally expected to bargain. It’s also sometimes possible to haggle over the price of hotel rooms, especially if you’re travelling in a group. Food and shop prices, however, tend to be fixed.


Regulations stipulate that no items of archeological or historical value or interest may be removed from the country. Many of the jungle craft goods which incorporate feathers, skins or shells of rare Amazonian animals are also banned for export – it’s best not to buy these if you are in any doubt about their scarcity. If you do try to export anything of archeological or biological value, and get caught, you’ll have the goods confiscated at the very least, and may find yourself in a Peruvian court.


We arrange any kind of diving and fishing activities within Peru so feels free to contact us


220 volt/60 cycles AC is the standard all over Peru, except in Arequipa where it is 220 volt/50 cycles. In some of Lima’s better hotels you may also find 110 volt sockets to use with standard electric shavers. Don’t count on any Peruvian supply being one hundred percent reliable and, particularly in cheap hostals and hotels be very wary of the wiring, especially in electric shower fittings.


Peru’s major sport is football and you’ll find men and boys playing it in the streets of every city, town and settlement in the country down to the remotest of jungle outposts. The big teams are Cristal, Alianza and El U (for Universitario) in Lima and Ciencianco from Cusco. The “Classic” game is between Alianza, the poor man’s team from La Victoria suburb of Lima, and El U, generally supported by the middle class. In recent years the sport has taken a European turn in the unruly and violent nature of its fans. This is particularly true of Lima where, in late 1995, the “Classic” had to be stopped because of stones thrown at the players by supporters. Known as choligans (a mixture of the English “hooligan” and the Peruvian cholo, which means dark-skinned Quechua-blooded Peruvian), these unruly supporters have taken to painting their faces, attacking the opposing fans and causing major riots outside the football grounds.


Homosexuality is pretty much kept underground in what is still a very macho society, though in recent years Lima has seen a liberating advance and transvestites can walk the streets in relative freedom from abuse. However, there is little or no organized gay life. The Peruvian Homosexual and Lesbian Movement can be contacted at Calle Mariscal Miller 828, in Jesus Maria (tel 433-5519).


Travellers sometimes suffer insults from Peruvians who begrudge the apparent relative wealth and freedom of tourists. Remember, however, that the terms “gringo” or “mister” are not generally meant in an offensive way in Peru.


You can learn Peruvian Spanish all over Peru, but the best range of schools are in Cusco, Arequipa and Huancayo. Check the relevant sections throughout the guide.


Most basic hotels have communal washrooms where you can do your washing; failing this, labour is so cheap that it’s no real expense to get your clothes washed by the hotel or in a lavandería (laundry). Things tend to disappear from public washing lines so be careful where you leave clothes drying.


Peru has more than its fair share of avalanches, landslides and earthquakes – and there’s not a lot you can do about any of them. If you’re naturally cautious you might want to register on arrival with your embassy; they like this, and it does help them in the event of a major quake (or an escalation of terrorist activity). Landslides – huaycos – devastate the roads and rail lines every rainy season, though alternative routes are usually found surprisingly quickly.


The light in Peru is very bright, with a strong contrast between shade and sun. This can produce a nice effect and generally speaking it’s easy to take good pictures. One of the more complex problems is how to take photos of people without upsetting them. You should always talk to a prospective subject first, and ask if s/he minds if you take a quick photo ( una fotito, por favor – “a little photo please”); most people react favourably to this approach even if all the communication is in sign language. Slide film is expensive to buy, and not readily available outside of the main cities; colour Kodac and Fuji films are widely available, but black and white film is rare. If you can bear the suspense it’s best to save getting films developed until you’re home – you’ll probably get better results. Pre-paid slide films can’t be developed in Peru.


Whilst buses, trains or planes won’t wait a minute beyond their scheduled departure time, people almost expect friends to be an hour or more late for an appointment (don’t arrange to meet a Peruvian on the street – make it a bar or café). Peruvians stipulate that an engagement is a la hora inglesa (“by English time”) if they genuinely want people to arrive on time, or, more realistically, within half an hour of the time they fix.


Peru keeps the same hours as Eastern Standard Time, which is (generally) five hours behind GMT.


Your only real chance of earning money in Peru is teaching English in Lima, or with luck in Arequipa or Cusco. Given the state of the economy there’s little prospect in other fields, though in the more remote parts of the country it may sometimes be possible to find board and lodging in return for a little building work or general labouring. This is simply a question of keeping your eyes open and making personal contacts. There is an enormous amount of bureaucracy involved if you want to work (or live) officially in Peru. For biology, geography or environmental science graduates there’s a chance of free board and lodging and maybe a small salary if you’re willing to work very hard for at least three months as a tour guide in a jungle lodge, under the Resident Naturalist schemes. Several lodges along the Río Tambopata offer such schemes and other research opportunities. For more details, write to the lodges directly; for independent advice contact the Tambopata Reserve Society (TreeS), 64 Belsize Park, London, NW3 4EH, UK. Arrangements need to be made at least six months in advance.

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