Peru 2000 ~ Tips
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What to take
We wanted to take the reasonable minimum of stuff as we'd have to carry it all over Peru. Things like camera equipment are up to the individual. I chose to take a heavy camera and 3 lenses, Barry just took a tiny pocket camera. I had to carry the camera all the time but I reckon the photos I took with it are definitely worth the extra sweat.
We took 3 or 4 pairs of underwear (each - we didn't share!), 1 pair of (dark colour) thin trekking trousers (should have taken 2 pairs), boots, sandals, fleece (a black one so it doesn't show the dirt!), gore-tex jacket, warm hat, bought sun hats in Peru to 'blend in' (hahaha!), usual toiletries including various pills to combat the shits - Immodium is great! Forgot to bring swimming trunks so I had to go in the hot springs at Aguas Calientes in my boxer shorts!
We brought camping gear, tent, and MSR dragonfly cooker which was excellent and a couple of 6 litre MSR water bags which screw on to our MSR water filter pump. The filter and bags were fantastic and definitely the best bits of kit. Clothes-wise dark colours are best as they don't show the dirt. We brought washing gel which was really good. Stuff like trousers and fleece had mysterious de-minging properties where they'd lose the bad smells and dodgy stains without washing....cool!
I'd worn my boots quite a bit before we went but not with a really heavy bag on. I got blisters straight away at Colca and also on the Inca Trail and could hardly walk properly afterwards, one of my toenails dropped off too! So its a good idea to really test out your boots with a big bag on and then make insole changes and sock adjustments to stop the rubbing before going away.
Crime and stuff
The guidebooks all say downtown Lima is a bad place. We had no problems there at all and we were in places which other Peruvians said were bad. We found the people open and friendly. Some were a bit insistent with their 'herbal remedies' but its little different from a night out in any big city.
However, my overconfidence led to my downfall on the last day in Cuzco. I had US$300 in my wallet (an old one which I brought on purpose) and it was sat in my pocket, plain as day, as I walked alone through the San Pedro market. I felt the tell tale splash of water on the back of my neck, a ruse to distract you. I'd read about this trick already so I was half ready. I felt my wallet leaving my pocket and immediately span round and grabbed whoever was there. In my hands were two hunched old crones. I started shouting at them and some kid said the person who took my wallet went down a side street. I let go of the old women and looked round. Then the old women disappeared - it was them who did it. I was so f**king angry with myself for letting it happen. The police were pretty helpful and sympathetic but not much else. While I was at the police station another guy was there who'd had his bag straps slashed while getting on the train.
Despite this massive mistake on my part I still reckon theres no problems as long as you act as though you're out in London or any other similar place.
The opposite sex
Girls in Peru are extremely friendly, often very attractive and pretty open too. Sitting in a bar or even just walking down the street will grab the attention of the local 'chicas'. Being able to speak Spanish isn't as important as being friendly and having a bit of fun. Go and see for yourself the stuff that's not written in the guidebooks!