In September, two weeks after my arrival in Lima, I published a text named “RoherFisch und heiße Rhythmen“ (raw fish and hot rhythms) which describes my first impressions of Peru’s capital. I named each three things I liked, three things which I considered annoying and three things I was looking forward to experiencing. So what happened then? Did my first ideas turn out to be true or do I have to classify them as unfounded prejudices? Let’s go through the text again…
1) What I like
“Enjoying delicious menus in for about 2,50 euros”
Indeed: Peruvian cuisine is incredibly tasty and furthermore available for totally reasonable prices (a home-made freshly cooked menu is cheaper than a, ummm, moderate meal at my university cafeteria in Germany). I hadn’t admitted it in my entry of September 17th, but actually I was not too convinced of “Ceviche” (raw fish marinated in lemon sauce, decorated with chilies, together with sweet potato and corn in the beginning. Oddly I got used to it fast and would now call it one of my favorite dishes. Besides, I fell for Lomo Saltado, Rocoto Relleno (chili filled mince, vegetables and covered with cheese), fish with tacu-tacu (a kind of paste made of beans or lentils, rice and herbs), and desserts like “suspiro a la limeña”, which is so sweet it almost breaks your teeth and is still totally worth it. Yes, food is one of the things I like best about Peru. Some people say it is on the way to be more recognized internationally – I would really welcome that.
“Salsa is omnipresent,Cumbia and Reggaeton are also quite popular. However, none of these genres are originally Peruvian. The country itself holds a lot of interesting artists and styles which to discover will be a task for the next months. […] At least I already dare to shake my hips to salsa rhythms. I attend classes thrice a week […]”
To be honest, my mission to learn Salsa worked out better than the mission to submerge into the Peruvian music scene. I kept on listening to the music which friends, taxi drivers etc. put on the record, so I may actuallyknow not so few Peruvian artists, but still can’t name them. Before leaving the country, I’llhave to ask Peruvian music lovers for help.
Now about Salsa: One of my nicest memories in Peru will definitely be my salsa classes and its people. They, pardon, wecall us“not a dancing group but a family”, throw surprise parties for each other and more. Example: Two days ago, the whole group organized a birthday party for a 13-year-old boyat his home. We gathered with cakes, snacks and balloons, played, naturally, salsa music and enjoyed the night with guests in the age from 2 to 72 years. Besides the warm atmosphere, Ibroadened my salsa skills from almost zero to something somehow watchable. By extending my classes I had the chance to dance six hours a week, two hours thrice, which led to progresses I hadn’t expected inthree months. Toform your own opinion, I will upload a small video of me dancing salsa to my facebook page soon.
“Politeness, helpfulness, hospitality”
I still feel that Peruvians in general are polite people: They are friendly, greet you a kind smile and show interest in you, yet without insisting if you are not up to a conversation. Regarding the hospitality, I was always treated verycorteously when I was a guest. I just was not one so often: I didn’t make as many contacts during my stay as I thought, which was probably a combination of lack of my own initiative and the fact that my colleagues at work already had their own established life. I got along very well with them, but relations didn’t extend out of the office. Surely in university it would have been different.
2) What seems difficult to me
“The omnipresence ofmachism “
“Only women work at the supermarket check-outs, with strong make-up and dressed up all the same way, like dolls”
Well, they do. However, depending on the chain, male workers are responsible to pack thepurchases into bags, also dressed up all the same way. In another chain I saw (few) male cashiers. The supermarket issue turned out to be more complex than I thought.
“There are no female bus drivers”
This seems to be true, I never saw a female driver, also I still haven’t met a Peruvian who did so.
“Some men would not give oral sex to their girlfriend as they believe this would turn her into a whore. Some women only permit anal sex before marriage in order to preserve their ‘virginity’ ”
Two Peruvian friends had told me that. Generally, Peruvians don’t talk too much about their sex lifethough (or at least not with a German woman they have known for a couple of months), but the few who talked to me agreed that cunnilingus was nowadays a normal practice in a relationship. About the anal sex issue I got no new information. Due to my lack of information I would quit the point about sexual practices from my “machism list”.
“There are reserved seats for ‘mothers with children’, but not for ‘fathers’ or just‘persons’“
Friends told me that in the new, modern metropolitan bus there are seats for “persons with children”. In the old microbuses, I have only seen stickers saying“mothers with children” or sketches which show a female figure with a kid.