by guest blogger, Kezia Huseman
What happens when you live in a place for a long time is that you get used to everything. For me in Cusco, for example, the lack of traffic regulations doesn’t seem that dangerous, the cold doesn’t feel that cold, and being the only light-haired maiden in a crowd is part of daily life. It isn’t until someone comes and visits you that you notice the anomalies, and the splendor, of where you are.
Just recently, three of my most favorite people came and visited me in Peru. Who were they, you ask? None other than fellow blood-Tonganoxians—my younger brothers, commonly referred to as The Brothers. For two and a half weeks, we vacationed to Puno and Lake Titicaca, hiked all the way to Machu Picchu, and explored in and around the city of Cusco.
Prior to their arrival, we talked frequently about what they should pack. Because of the high altitude, the temperature gradient during the day is quite large. I instructed The Brothers to pack lots of layers and a light jacket for nighttime. When they arrived however, I was told, “Why did you tell us to bring a light jacket? It’s COLD!” I know it’s cold, but I guess I’m just used to sweating during the day in the sun and then shivering in my unheated apartment at night.
There were several “Peruvianisms” like that which The Brothers pointed out. For example, squeezing as many people into a public bus (small van) as possible, having a flat rate for all taxi rides, eating delicious popsicles on the street for the equivalent of 10 US cents, using coins for most purchases, and boiling water before drinking it.
The oddities of Peru may seem strange at first, but they are what make it special and intriguing and exciting to visit. I suppose I could have warned The Brothers about a few things a bit more than I did, but I’m glad I didn’t. Discovering for yourself what makes a place distinct and exceptional is the fun of traveling.
While being accustomed to Cusco inhibited me from sharing all the oddities with The Brothers prior to their arrival, being a local also had its advantages during their stay. I know the best eateries, the cheapest/quickest routes, the people to know, the non-tourist shops, and the hidden treasures—the things even the guide books forget.
I’d be more than happy to share all the secret places of Cusco, but this blog simply isn’t long enough. But you know…better yet…come visit! Why should I tell you everything when you can see it all for yourself?
“To travel is to live.” –Hans Christian Anderson
Peruvianism: a norm of Peru which appears strange/interesting/surprising to most foreigners at first; they are not negative, but rather different.