Writing about Peru is a difficult job because I always feel that somehow I am missing out. That is why I decided to come back with a more thorough, maybe even more convincing article. So there we go!
Now, as related previously, after visiting the most famous historical site in South America – Machu Picchu – one actually discovers that there are way more sites out there to see. Hence, from Cuzco and the Sacred Valley with its innumerable Inca sites, going up and taking a flight over the Nazca lines it is also something that one cannot miss. Not many know that actually, Peru is the home country of the most ancient civilization in the Americas – Caral – with its settlement still enveloped into mistery as they are still digging and studying it. The place is situated around 200km from Lima and it was founded in 2600 BC. Besides Caral, there is also the Chavin, Moche and Chimu civilizations, all in the North (and near) of Lima, near Trujillo – sites that are definitely not to miss since their antiquity long precedes the one of the Incas.
Spectacular Landscapes and Biodiversity
Well – geographically speaking, Peru can be divided into the coastline, the Andes and of course, the Amazon rainforest, home of the most unique and extravagant fauna and flora. So, I will let you decide where to start but I promise you will not be disappointed by any. I cannot say that I have a favourite, although for me the jungle was something new – and definitely a challenge – due to the heat and the number of mosquitos ( and they are slightly intrusive I must say). But after spending ten days in a remote island near Pucallpa – I can say that I would go back any time. If you have the right utensils (and a mosquito net and spray are a must) and you are following the right diet (lots of water, lots of bananas and plantains, no condiments nor fried food and again – lots of water!:) you will enjoy the company of the indigenous people and the luxuriant beauty of your surroundings.
Living Culture, Art and Music
Talking about the indigenous people – of course, Peru is one of those countries that not only vary in landscapes but its people as well change from one point to the other. The language and the traits, customs, art and music all change according to where you go to – from the coast to the jungle. Hence, besides Spanish which is the official language, the Aymara is spoken in the South, at the border with Bolivia and Lake Titicaca, Quechua- the language of the Incas- is still spoken in the Andean regions of Peru, and finally, the many indigenous languages spoken in the Amazon Basin ( at least 13 languages among which the Shipibo, which I studied briefly for the time I spent in the jungle). In literature, Peruvian literature has its origins in a strong oral tradition and names such as Mario Vargas Llosa, Jose Carlos Mariategui or Cesar Vallejo are names that played a big role in the 20th-century literary movements. The music – oh well – the music is a mixture of sounds and styles, having its roots in the Andean music and of course adding the Spanish influence. The variety of instruments and dancing styles is overwhelming. The charango is the national instrument *a type of mandolin*, but there are many others present such as the flute, harp, panpipe, accordion, saxophone, violin, guitar and the harmonica. Besides, you would definitely be impressed by the beauty of the crafts and textile handicrafts, defined by geometric precision, symbolism and local-produced materials such as vicuna, alpaca and llama wool.
Of course, it is not a secret that Peru has been nominated as the world’s most important cuisines, as it represents a fusion between the indigenous food and the colonial touch that the Spanish brought with them since the Colombian, but also influenced by the Italian, German and even Chinese cuisine (here having its name even – Chifa). The main ingredients in a Peruvian meal will be either rice, corn, potatoes, legumes as well as tubers (quinoa and kiwicha) – sometimes all! :)) Then there is a wide variety of meats ( including alpaca and cuy) and definitely, there is the fish, probably the most delicious I have ever eaten. But if you are a vegetarian, do not despair! There is such an incredible variety of vegetables and fruits you could choose from! While in the coastal areas the ceviche is more popular, in the Andes, the trout and the guinea pig are the specialities, in the Amazon, the favourites are the piranhas, some species of turtles even, as well as a huge variety of fruits – my favourites being the cherimoya, the star apple and mango – and finished with chapo – a speciality drink made from plantains. Definitely, one of the most important aspects of the day, the people here consider mealtime as a time of gathering and sharing with their family, so much like the Spanish, and so do not be surprised if they would want to make you part of it!