I have traveled to 13 countries outside the United States that include Argentina, Aruba, Bahamas, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, Cuba, France, Iceland, Kenya, Mexico, Panama, Puerto Rico.
As an African American female traveling to Lima, Peru in 2020, it was a very seemingly safe place. I encountered not one moment that made me take any additional precautions than I would in any other country including my home here in the United States. As any person should, I avoided known dangerous areas and solo traveling at night.
I navigated through Peru without international calling, without Google Maps and the inability to speak the native language of Spanish. However I would encourage individuals to have both, but it is very possible to enjoy the country without either especially with the presence of The Holy Spirit ( my internal GPS system) in your life.
I would rate my lodging accommodations on a scale of 1-5 with 5 representing the highest and best rating a 3.5. The facility was
clean, safe, centrally located, relatively quiet and provided free Wi-Fi. I stayed at Oscar’s Place ( a hostel). What is a hostel you may ask. A hostel technically is simply a shared accommodation. Hostels vary that include staying in a dorm room style or a private room with bathrooms with common areas, a kitchen to share with various amenities that can include swimming pools. pool tables small restaurants. Hostels tend to increase the opportunity to meet and interact with others traveling solo or with people from various countries. While I was in Peru I met a young lady from Germany who had decided to save her money and for this entire year she plans to travel all over the world. She advised that she had just spent 3 weeks in Cuba and now will spend the next 5 weeks in Peru. I was impressed that she spoke 3 languages to include German, Spanish and English.
On the scale of 1-5 again with 5 being the highest rating I would rate the food a 2.5 or perhaps a 3. The guinea pig is a delicacy in the Peruvian diet, but I did not try it. Ceviche is very common dish which I did try it with chicken. Ceviche is typically made from raw fish cured in citrus juices, such as lemon or lime, and spiced with hajji, chili peppers or other seasonings including chopped onions salt. and coriander. Peru has many varieties of the potato to include over a thousand varieties. At one of the local restaurants I tried a stuffed potato and it was my favorite meal. I also had a toasted avocado sandwich that was excellent. There is an ice cream shop that has some very unusual flavored ice creams. I tried a chili pepper flavored ice cream cone that was delicious.
Other dishes I tried were less pleasing to my palate. There were some very familiar restaurants that included Domino’s Pizza, Pizza Hut, Little Caesars, Chili’s, TGI Fridays, Dunkin Donuts, Burger King, McDonald’s and surprisingly to me there was a Popeye’s Chicken.
Peru’s currency is the sole. During my visit the exchange rate was 30 soles to 1 U.S. dollar. Typically I exchanged monies at the airport, but flights into Lima are typically late at night and the fact that it is relatively easy to exchange throughout the city I waited and did not exchange at the airport. Many places took U.S. dollars and Visa; however soles are preferred.
The people were very friendly, although I know only a handful of words in Spanish it was relatively easy to navigate and communicate, although I am committed to learning Spanish after traveling to so many Spanish speaking countries.
Peru, and Lima in particular was NOT a very expensive country. Meals were far cheaper than the cost of American meals. Many of the meals included rice and potatoes. Paying for a meal for 3 was the cost of many meals for 1 in the U.S. I shopped at the malls and the local Inca markets and the cost at the market as it is in most countries was cheaper than the mall, Miraflores is very nice shopping district where the prices are a bit more expensive.
Transportation was interesting to say the least. Uber was available and I did use Uber while there. I used the public bus system which is very inexpensive and I used taxis. Most of the taxis and Uber drivers do not speak English. The buses are extremely crowded and I do mean extremely. I was told that you CAN encounter “Pick Pockets” on the bus, but I had no problems and never felt threatened any more than I would any public bus transportation I have taken. In fact I felt less threatened than I have in other countries ;however I would proceed with usual precaution. I would NOT recommend renting a vehicle as Lima has very relaxed driving laws and even fewer obeyed. I often saw 2 lane streets turned into 5 unofficial lanes. The city is NOT pedestrian friendly, there is a lot of honking of the horns and many drivers do not stop for pedestrians. It very likely you will see some locals walk bravely in front of on coming traffic as well as pedestrians running across the street in a crosswalk for a driver who failed to stop for a traffic light.
I stayed a week and because I am a frugal spender $350 was sufficient for my stay which included my feeding and paying for entrances into museums for the 17 year old son of the Hostel staff who served as translator/interpreter on some of my activities.
Lima is often the starting point for many who are traveling on to Cusco and then to Machu Picchu or The Rainbow Mountains and many other popular sites. I did NOT travel to Cusco or to Machu Picchu. The logistics should be planned in advance. From Lima to Cusco it an estimated 20 hour bus ride or approximately a 1.5 plane ride at an estimated cost of $140. From my research once in Cusco it is recommended to stay over night to acclimate to the altitude change and then proceed to Machu Picchu by bus or by train.
While in Lima I traveled to see the Changing Of The Guard at The Presidential Palace, the Huaca Pucllana (ruins of pre- Inca pyramid, Larcomar (cliffside shops and dining), Basilica y Convento de San Fransico de Lima (a historic Catholic Church) and shopped at the Inca markets.
Peru is a country I will return to and embark on the many other cities and sites I did not visit on this trip. I can say that as an African American female I did not feel awkward, unwelcomed or in any way shunned upon during my stay. I felt liberated as I shopped, I didn’t have people staring or bothering me at all. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Lima.
About the Author
C. Alisa Greene,
Alisa is an author of four published books, a Certified Personal Trainer, a Certified Track and Field Coach, a Notary Public, a Motivational Speaker, a Substitute Teacher, Chess Coach for elementary students, an extreme adventurer and traveler and most importantly an instrument for The Most High God.