Whenever you are travelling in Cusco or studying Spanish in Cusco, Peru, it is easy to be sucked into the tourist sites, restaurants, and shops. However, if you are exploring with the mission of living more like a Cusqueño, here are five tips to get you on your way:
Take a bus
Bus and “combi”, large vans, are the main types of transportation for Cusqueños. This is how they get to work, travel to other cities, and visit friends. There is no other experience that makes you feel more one with the people than to be crammed into a bus. Finding the correct bus can be difficult sometimes, but do not be afraid to ask others for help. Peruvians are usually friendly and will want to help you. Before you get on a bus you can ask the “cobrador”, the person who takes your money, if it passes by where you want to go. Once on the bus, it is important to notify the “cobrador” whenever you want to get off. If you are unsure about where your bus stop is, then ask someone to notify you when to get off. Busses are very cheap and should cost you 0.70 soles.
Drink Coca, Manzanilla, or Anís Tea
Drinking warm drinks is very important in Cusco, as most people believe that drinking anything cold will make you sick. Often Peruvians drink tea to cure various sicknesses, such as: headaches, stomach aches, and sore throats. They may also drink a hot cup of tea after a big meal to help with digestion. Coca tea is one of the most suggested teas for foreigners as it helps to adjust to the high altitude in Cusco.
Watch television and listen to the radio
Music and television programs are a very important part of a Peruvian’s everyday life. Whenever at home most families will either have the radio or television on, it is a rare case for it to be completely quiet in the house. Soap operas are very popular along with shows that have the latest gossip on celebrities. As for the radio stations, there are all different types of music played: Cumbia, Salsa, Bachata, and popular songs from the United States and Europe.
Get away from the city´s center
If you do not want to be treated like a tourist, it will be necessary to get away from the city center of Cusco. The farther away you go from the main square, the Plaza de Armas, the more likely you will be able to find typical Peruvian restaurants with good prices. You will be able to see the daily life of Peruvians in Cusco more clearly and a big plus is that there are not as many people on the street trying to sell you something.
Eat at a rotisserie chicken restaurant
Cusqueños love their “pollo a la brasa”, rotisserie chicken. You are able to find a Pollo a la Brasa restaurant on almost every street and they are usually packed with people. Most chicken places sell it in parts of 1/8, 1/4, 1/2, or a whole chicken. Along with it you usually receive a salad, fries and sometimes soup or fried rice. If you are eating by yourself, I would suggest the “octavo”, which is the 1/8 of a chicken. It is plenty and it is usually only costs 6 or 7 soles.