14 Peruvian Cultural Quirks

I thought it would be fun to share some “Peruvian Quirks” that I feel we have gotten used to in the past six months. If you are planning to visit, these are some things that will get on your last nerve or that you will find to be blatantly different from the U.S. I know that I have left so many things out, but here is a list I have tried to compile over the month... 

  1. a Peruvian birthday party: Ana turned two this month and I tried to throw her first party Peruvian style. They spend a ton of money on birthdays! It is a really big deal to them. We definitely were the low budget hosts, and it was made evident to me when our piñata burst with candy and one of our little guests exclaimed, “Where are the toys?” Later on, after receiving his party gift, he asked his mother, “Where is the party gift?” I guess I was more of a cheapo than I realized. 
  2. separate lines: if you plan on going to the movies, make sure to stand in the long line to pay for your refreshments before standing in the long line to pick them up.  
  3. the trash can is there for a reason! Toilet paper is not flushed down the toilet; it is placed in a trash can.
  4. crazy driving: You will see if you come visit. If you are a back-seat driver you may want to close your eyes.
  5. cutting in line: totally normal. I was here 30 minutes before you, but sure, get in line with your friends.
  6. stares, “Muñeca!”: Sometimes it is easy to feel like you are the first white, blue-eyed creature they have ever seen here. “Muñeca” means “doll.” This is a popular word they use for our daughters. It is obvious why they choose this word when you see that all of the baby dolls they sell here are white with blonde hair and blue eyes.
  7. customer service: Doesn’t exist in most places.
  8. personal space: You don’t have any.
  9. deoderant: think about it--that costs money.
  10. the “fan clubs”: See number six above. Here is an example from when we went to the park with my parents. These kids followed us around the entire time and just watched our every move.
  11. once a tourist, always a tourist: no matter how hard we try, we will never look like we belong here.
  12. “mañana...” or “poco a poco...”: literally, “tomorrow” or “little by little.” These are common phrases that I now translate as “It will either never get done or will take much longer than I am leading you to believe” or “Don’t count on it.”
  13. street noises: (a) most people keep a dog on their rooftop that barks constantly through the night, (b) street vendors or buyers like to ride bicycles with megaphones--I wish you could hear a recording. We have learned that those with flutes are the traveling knife sharpeners, and I am convinced that the women selling the Sunday paper take special classes to yell and make their presence known. 
  14. a baby culture: Along with no personal space, there are no qualms about touching a pregnant belly. But I have to admit, I like the way that they glorify the pregnant woman. My vegetable lady will make an extra effort to find something for me to sit on while I make my order.