Life in Peru
The Peruvian cuisine
The world-famous cuisine of the Peruvian coastal area is a unique fusion of influences from different immigrant traditions (e.g. African, Chinese, Japanese and European) and elements of the native tradition. Apart from being very eclectic and exquisite, Peruvian dishes are very spicy, especially the Creole cuisine. A special element of the Peruvian cuisine is the so called “Chifa”, a fusion of Chinese and Peruvian food. Chifa restaurants are very common in Lima and the rest of Peru. Many excellent restaurants in Lima and all other regions invite to discover the merits of the Peruvian culinary art.
How do people greet in Peru?
Women use to greet by kissing on the right cheek, no matter if they meet another woman or a man. Men give each other the hand. These gestures are accompanied by phrases like “Hola”, “Buenos días” (in the morning), “Buenas tardes” (between 12 and six o’clock) or “Buenas noches” (after six o’clock) to welcome someone, and “Chau” or “Bye” to say good bye.
If you meet someone in the street or in a place where no one knows each other, it’s sufficient to use the expressions mentioned before, without shaking hands or kiss on the cheek.
Peruvian talk is very polite, always inserting a “Por favor” (Please) in the beginning or end of a sentence when asking for something, and always saying a “Gracias” (Thank you) when receiving something. Young people though speak more informal to each other using a lot of slang. They say “Tú” to each other instead of the formal “Usted”. If you talk to older people, use the more formal “Usted”, unless you know the person very well. In Lima it’s not strange to come late to an informal meeting, especially if you meet in a private place like someone’s home. If you’ll be late more than half an hour though, it’s recommendable to call or send a message.
Traffic in Lima
People in Lima drive fast and crazy, so you should always pay a lot of attention when you cross a street or avenue. Drivers don’t pay a lot of attention to pedestrians or cyclists. Streets are most crowded between 7 and 9 o’clock in the morning, 12.30 and 2 o’clock in the afternoon and later between 6 and 8 o’clock at night.
How does public transport in Lima work?
The public transport system of Lima isn’t one of the strong points of the city. Thousands of minibuses find their way through the crowded streets with the exhaust fumes of cars and buses in the air. Bus stops, routes and interchange facilities are not always clear to see and have to be discovered by testing. But mostly you can count on some friendly Limeño who will be glad to help.
Almost 50% of the inhabitants of Lima use the local buses. Most common are the so called Combis, mini buses with small capacity. They are usually used for short rides and they run basically everywhere. The Custer buses are bigger. They don’t run as many streets as the Combis, but there are many of them and they are more comfortable. The big intercity buses are often comfortable and modern. They start from several terminals across the city and drive to all major cities of Peru. Another common mobility device are taxis. In Lima you can find them about everywhere and a ride is much cheaper than we are used to from cities in Europe or the US. Taxis in Lima are not formalized. Official taxis have a yellow color, while there are also many independent taxis, which don’t have a special color and which are not always safe or recommendable. There are also radio-taxis which you can call by telephone. They are safe and comfortable but also more expensive. There are no taximeters like in other countries. The fare is always calculated by the driver according to the distance, district and time of the day. It’s always recommendable to ask a local for the usual price.
Lately there are attempts to improve and modernize public transport in Lima. For instance, along the freeway Via Expresa the new urban bus line Metropolitano de Lima started its service in 2010. This line with a total of 38 bus stops on a length of 26 kilometers goes from Chorrillos to Independencia and connects 16 districts. The comfortable and modern articulated buses on this line all work with natural gas. What’s more since 2012 the modern Line 1 of the new Metro de Lima is working. The train connects nine districts on 26 stops and 34 kilometers. There are plans to open more lines in the next years.
Car rental and private transport
If you have an international driver’s licence you can also rent a car to move around in Lima. You will find all the international rental car brands and also small local providers. However, driving a car in Lima is not very recommendable, considering that traffic is very chaotic. You should know the city very well to move around by car. Renting a car can be a good option though to leave Lima and travel to other sights of Peru. It’s always recommendable to travel with someone, who knows the routes and to take account of all necessary safety precautions.
What Peruvians like to talk about
One of the favorite topics of Peruvians is food, especially the Peruvian cuisine. You will find people not only talking to foreigners about this, but also Peruvians among themselves can talk for hours about how to prepare a dish, restaurants, food history… Knowledge about food has become something to be proud of and part of the Peruvian identity during the last years, since the Peruvian cuisine started to get an international reputation. Peruvians like to tell foreigners things about Peru and you will have people asking you what you already know of their country. Male foreigners will often be asked if they like Peruvian girls and if you are female you can expect to be asked what’s your opinion about Peruvian men and if you have a boyfriend.
The national drink – Pisco Sour
Pisco Sour is the national drink of Peru. It’s made with Pisco (liqueur based on grapes, originally from the city of Pisco in the south of Peru), lemon juice, egg white, syrup of cane sugar, ice and angostura. It’s an aperitif that fits perfectly with the Creole cuisine and in Peru it’s more popular than wine or champagne when it comes to clink glasses in a celebration or a party.
When to give tip
In restaurants it’s common to give a tip of round about 10%, if not already included in the bill. If you give a tip in a restaurant you first receive the change, then you leave the tip on the table. In places which offer a lunch special it’s not common to leave a tip. It’s not common either to give a tip to taxi drivers or to filling station attendants. But you usually give some coins to the persons of the informal sector who help you get out of a parking lot, look after your car or clean it.
The working atmosphere in Peru
The working atmosphere can vary, depending on the size or style of the company. In big companies and in public administration at least in the beginning the treatment will be quite formal. But younger colleagues tend to say tú instead of using the formal Usted. But you should always say Usted to your boss or supervisor, unless he or she offers you to say tú. In smaller companies or NGO’s, treatment usually is less formal and more horizontal.
INSIDE PERU will provide you with details concerning the dress code and working atmosphere on your job in Peru.
The voltage in Peru is 220 Volt AC, 60 Hz. We recommend using an adapter for devices brought from abroad.
National bank holidays
The following bank holidays are valid countrywide. In addition, every region has its own local holidays.
- January 1
- March or April
- May 1
- June 29
- July 28 and 29
- August 30
- October 8
- November 1
- December 8
- December 25
- New Year
- Labor Day
- San Pedro and San Pablo
- National Holiday
- Santa Rosa de Lima
- Battle of Angamos
- All Saints
- Maria Conception