Thank you Peru and a good day to you!
So two years on, what's changed, or more accurately, what have I noticed now I'm less dazzled by Peru's new-ness?
Let's start with food. Peru, and Lima in particular, has been praised gastronomically recently. It may be true that 2 of the top 20 restaurants in the world are in Lima, but the rest of the country's cuisine is nothing exceptional. Peruvians delight in chicken and anything starchy - expect a Nando explosion imminently - and delight in rather too much of it, if the portion control we saw was representative of the nation as a whole, which Alfie assures me it is.
Portion control failure leads neatly on to the next observation - obesity. Now I'm not captain slim and people in glass houses etc, but many, if not most Peruvians we saw going about their daily business were overweight. True, we didn't see morbidly gross examples of obesity on a daily bass, but Peru clearly has a weight problem. Diabetes rates are soaring too.
The one health plus side is the near absence of smoking - after Sarah commented on the dearth of smoking on the streets I actively looked. Nada. No advertising, no butts on the street, no tell-tale whiff, but ashtrays in hotel rooms more often than not. Odd.
So no fag ends, but much roadside litter with plastic bags everywhere. Some full, some empty, some tattered and moving listlessly across the landscape. A 10 centimos charge per bag may make an impact and I don't think it is that Peruvians aren't house proud. They are. They sweep their forecourts, so perhaps it's a lack of collection infrastructure or the invisibility of a mattress at the bottom of a gorge?
Lastly, roads. We've put a lot of miles under our belts over the past 11 days via Vilaya Tours. A few roads have been a pleasure to travel upon, many just tolerable, and some deliberately unmaintained by dental students keen to build a book of future work.
Road signage is pitiful. There's no 10 mile, 3 mile, 1 mile, be careful, turn! notification sequence of signage here. You might get a distance board every 200 km or so. You might get the notification of a turning to town X without there actually being a turn to take, but it seems you have to rely on sat-nav or simply knowing where the hell you are and not getting lost. I saw Hegel ask for directions on 3 occasions, one of which was due to a the Celerdin town centre closure for bull running. Given the 600 miles or more we've travelled, the 7 towns we've stayed in, and the many more we've passed through, this is testament to the mind map he has built over at least 15 years acting as a tour driver.
So in conclusion, I love lovely Peru - I hope I'll be back, but there are some now higher entries on my must-see list. Adios!