1. You go out clubbing to the sound of panpipes.
After busting some shapes to Rihanna or David Guetta you know the dance floor doesn’t really come alive until someone cracks out the pan pipe tunes. El Condor Pasa is your jam but you know to call it a night when the panpipe Abba mashup hits the decks at Kamikase.
2. Your life depends on Inca Kola.
You’ve used it to cure a hangover, the flu or just plain exhaustion from altitude. Never mind the chemist, you head straight to the nearest shop or stand for a bottle the colour of a highlighter pen and packed with an obscene amount of sugar. Inca Kola: it’s good for what ails you.
3. You can throw back pisco straight.
You’ve seen fights break out over which South American country created it. At first you just thought it was chewy and could barely see what all the fuss was about. Now you glug it down with lemonade or even better, ginger ale — and in the blurry, early hours you’ve even been known to shoot the stuff neat at Mama Africa’s.
4. You always heed the advice of masked strangers.
When crossing the road in Cuzco you hear that unmistakable crack of a whip and turning round you’re greeted by grotesque masks that would be more at home in a horror movie. Sandwich boards make these characters’ message clear: “Respete el crucero peatonal.” Respect the crossing.
5. You get your dates from cacti.
Forget swiping on Tinder, when looking for true love in Peru you go searching around Moray for your name scratched clumsily into a nearby agave — hoping that the name beside yours is your recent crush.
6. You can chomp down on the same set of coca leaves for hours.
The best way to combat altitude sickness — you’ve sipped the tea, munched the sweets, but now you just chew the leaf straight and proudly sport your guinea pig cheeks around town.
7. The Sacred Valley doesn’t leave you breathless anymore.
When you first arrived you had to regularly claim you weren’t unfit whilst panting like a labrador on a hot day. The air felt so thin you couldn’t help but literally gasp for a breath. Now you can run up that hill in San Blas no problem.
8. You’re not afraid of an Andean mixed grill.
You’ve allowed a whole new range of wildlife to grace your plate. You nonchalantly order llama, alpaca and if you’re feeling brave you might even go for a guinea pig. The fearless opt for their cuy straight from a roadside basket though.
9. You enjoy your tea sin leche.
You now know milk is a real luxury in Peru and you can’t remember the last time you had your cuppa with milk, but your experiences are all the richer for it.
10. You know alpaca fur is magic.
And now your wardrobe if full of it. On your arrival the lurid colours and quirky rows of llamas jumped out from Plaza artisan market stalls of jumpers, fleeces and scarves. But you were lured in and you have ended up with a whole new gringo wardrobe. It’s still a mystery to you how the fluffy wool keeps you warm in the crisp winds but doesn’t make you sweat like crazy in the strong high altitude sun. In the end, you’re glad you didn’t hit up North Face like the serious trekkers in town.
11. You barely notice the sound of fireworks now.
At first the sudden whoosh and eruption of crackles would make you jump clean out of your skin. But now you’ve realised that everyday is a parade in Peru and you are no longer fazed by someone lighting a firework up by your face.
12. You’ve stopped using apps to schedule travel plans.
Whilst the likes of Uber have made their way over, you know that no app can really help you in predicting your travel time in Peru. With landslides, strikes and stray llamas the roads are a smorgasboard of obstacles and you are better off going with the locals and opting for a mañana attitude when it comes to time.
13. You don’t want to return home to just one landscape.
From the bone drying deserts of Huacachina, to the sweeping valleys of Colca, to the stifling heat of the Amazon, to the staggering beauty of an Incan Ruin, you’ve seen all the wonders that Peru has to offer. Somehow the bland familiarity of home just isn’t all that appealing anymore.
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