Peru – the prussian country of the potato

10 05 2010

Peru is the most amazing country we have travelled in so far. People are very very friendly and warm and  – it must come from the line of the Incas – are extremely well organized.  This shows in a prussian sort of punctuality and cleanliness which is almost too much. Even for us disciplined germans. The driver, supposed to pick you up between 3.00  and 3.30 am (yes, in the morning) rings the bell of the hostel at exactly 3.00 am. Two different chauffeurs of 4x4s, getting us to and back from the foot of 18.000 feet mountains were exactly on time – not one minute late even if they had to drive for 3 hours to arrive at the pick up point.

The big double storey busses, preferred means of transportation with own terrepuertos (groundports instead of airports) leave their bay punctual – 9.30 is 9.30, not one minute later.

When you have to use the Banos (bathrooms) at the bus station you pay 1 soles (25 Eurocent) and you get a  printed ticket as proof that you paid. Every piece of luggage gets a tag and you only can retrieve your bag when showing your tag with the identical number. It is more strict than being in an airport.

Even the taxi drivers in Arequipa where we stayed for ten days only try once to rip you – a little bit. A normal tour within the town costs 3 soles (= 1US $). If you ask for the price they tell you: 4 soles. You say “no” with a smile, they smile in mutual understanding and say “3 soles”. Deal done.

The other astounding aspect is the cuisine with a lot of varieties like ostrich, alpaca, guinnea pig (no, we didn’t taste that), all sorts of seafood and “cebiche” (or ceviche, the Peruvian way of sushi) and countless sorts of potatoes in all sizes and in colour variations from red over greenish-yellow to blueish.

There are dozens of differents kinds of potatoes in Peru.

We have this knowledge from a supermarket in Lima, but there is a better source:

Although the Spaniards could never have guessed it, potatoes were to be Peru’s greatest legacy to the world. They originated in Peru and grow there in a profusion of varieties and colours. It has been calculated that the world’s annual potato harvest is worth many times the value of all treasures and precious metals taken from the Inca empire by its conquerors.

The Conquest of the Incas, John Hemming, Pan Books

Writing this in a bus from Cruz del Sur rolling over the altiplano at 3800m altitude (12.500 ft) between Arequipa and Puno we are looking forward to visiting the lake Titicaca and the capital of the Inca empire – Cusco.

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