This will most likely be a recurring post type as we need a place to place our quirky, off-beat, and otherwise inane observations from the road.
– Peru’s napkins are a joke. It’s like every restaurant, cafeteria, food truck, hostel, and bus collectively decided to save $.0002 per customer by peeling each ply separately and pretending they were napkins. They weren’t much better in Bolivia, but they were better. Step up your game, Peru!*
* Argentina isn’t looking so great with their tiny, waxy, paper things on their tables, but it’s early yet in our Argentine travels.
– When traveling through either of these countries, bring plenty of toilet paper and soap and/or hand sanitizer. There is no guarantee that you will find either in a given bathroom. Frequently, the presence of these items is irrespective of the quality of the restaurant/hostel/etc., so there really is no rule of thumb beyond “be prepared.”
– Pizza joints are everywhere! Outside of Lima, where there is so much other good food to eat they probably don’t need it as much, pizza joints may be the most common restaurant type. A caveat: we primarily stuck to touristy areas in both countries, which may account for this unexpected surplus of pizza. Although we were told by locals in many of these towns that they love pizza, so maybe not. Either way, it surprised us. On the plus side, pizza can be a tasty and economical way for two budget travelers to fill up!
– We learned a fun little survival skill: flushing a toilet without running water. Although we applied for our merit badges for our respective sashes, I’m starting to think we may not want to wear that patch around….
– Anticuchos are delicious! They are grilled shish kebab style on street corners throughout both Peru and Bolivia and are served with grilled potatoes and a purplish spicy sauce (usually). Who knew cow heart would be so good?
– Men tend to not smile for photos. A couple of times, we have been asked why we do and could come up with nothing more satisfactory than, “Well, when we are posing for a photo we are typically happy,” as a response. It is a bit jarring to see a smiling Peruvian man with his family morph into a remorseless convict preparing for his mug shot when a camera comes out, but there it is. This is somewhat common for women, too, but apparently less so.
– People adore McDonald’s and Coke. There aren’t all that many McDonald’s restaurants around, but they are spoken of in glowing terms and we have been met with slack-jawed disbelief every time we have responded that we don’t eat McDonald’s at home primarily because it is disgusting. Coke seems to be an obsession in Bolivia, particularly, where it appears to be more frequently consumed than water. On our walking tour we were told that the government tried to ban Coke, but backed down in the face of widespread protests.
More inanities to follow as we continue our travels!