Peru Travel and Cultural Oddities

during your stay in Peru, you will notice any number of unusual practices that seem to be very common throughout the country. They are no more unusual than some of the idiosyncrasies or superstitions that exist in other countries, but for the visitor to Peru, they may require some sort of explanation to understand. Here are several of the most common peculiarities of the Peruvian people.

Plastic bags hanging on poles at the front of stores and homes is a common site. They are always red plastic. This is a sign for others that they sell the potent alcoholic beverage Chicha, made from maize. This concoction is not unlike the moonshine that bootleggers sold in the United States in the 1920s, and equally as intoxicating.

Many houses, predominately in older towns like Cusco and Ollantaytambo will have a pair of steer sitting on their roofs. These cattle, one male and one female, are there to appease the mountain gods of Apus, to keep the house safe, ensure prosperity, and health for the family. Ironically, many times between these two steer there will be a ladder built from the roof down, and a cross sitting atop the roof between the cattle. These objects are placed to ensure the resident has an easy passage into Heaven when the time comes. This is a most common practice, and presents the interwoven cultures of the Incan and Christian in Peru’s society.

If you jump in a taxi cab or other public transportation and sometimes even in private vehicles, you will find a baby’s shoe hanging from the rear view mirror or from beneath the car by a string. The shoe is from the first-born child of the family. This superstition is said to bring luck and wealth to the family, and ensure cohesion between family members.

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