Honking cars are taxis
Taxis in Cusco have no standardized colors and many are not equipped with a taxi sign. If a car starts sounding the horn behind you and slowing down, then it is most likely a taxi looking for a fare. There is no taximeter in Peru, and the price of a fare is haggled on the spot before getting on.
Buses not stopping at the bus stop
Public transportation in Cusco is a polypoly, and not truly in public hands. Private transportation companies offer their bus transport services, and as such are free to call themselves what their hearts desire. As a result, buses under the names of “Batman”, “Zorro”, “satélite” or “rápido” can easily be found in the streets. Since many buses of different companies serve the same routes, it can happen that some don’t stop at their regular bus stop (even if there are people waiting there). Rather, they may choose to overtake their competition and beat them to the next bus stop in order to win over the passengers.
“Pollo” (meaning chicken) is not meat!
When going to a restaurant as a vegetarian, you are well advised to indicate that you eat no meat (Carne) and no chicken (pollo). Leaving out this distinction may prompt the waiter to suggest chicken as an alternative, because “chicken is chicken and meat is meat”. Interestingly, fish in Peru is regarded as meat.
Toilet paper goes in the trash can
Almost every public toilet has a small trash can to throw toilet paper in, as the paper may otherwise clog the toilet. Oftentimes there is no toilet paper available, which is why it’s wise to always carry some with you.
Green does not always mean green!
This applies only to pedestrians. When the pedestrian traffic light is green, one must still be on the lookout for cars coming from the left or right claiming right-of-way. If you’re unlucky and there are many cars driving around, you may not be able to cross even with a green light.
Small kiosks on the streets
Small kiosks on the sidewalk are very common in Peru. Here you can buy just about everything your heart desires: sweets, chips, drinks, cigarettes, and more foodstuff. They are in almost every corner and filled with goodies from top to bottom.
“Cuy” (Guinea Pigs)
What is considered a pet in many countries, is a culinary delicacy in Peru: the guinea pig. “Cuy” is popular among many Peruvians, as it is high in protein and low in fat in comparison to other kinds of meat. The guinea pig is often served whole, which understandably scares off a lot of tourists.
There are many vendors and street stalls offering food for sale in Cusco. Especially anticuchos are much sought after. These are chunks of beef heart roasted on a skewer, served with potatoes and an optional but always available hot sauce.
Most cars you’ll see in Cusco are of Asian origin. Though there are also many old VW Beetles driving around, and they come in all kinds of colors and can be found in almost every corner.
Painted advertising on walls
Coca Cola, Inka Cola, Claro… There are ads everywhere, not on posters but painted directly on the walls. Even if it’s a campaign ad for president, house walls are decorated with the name and party logo.
The ad is not removed even after the election is over, sometimes for as long as a couple of years.
No 1, 2 and 5 cent coins
It is normal to see prices like 9.99 or 14.95 Soles in supermarkets and malls. Strange thing is, that there are no coins of 1, 2 or 5 cent of a Sol in value in circulation. These have been discontinued some time ago. The total amount to pay is simply rounded up or down at the checkout.