After living with a Peruvian family for a week or so, I have began to realize that there are many cultural differences around the house!
- As previously mentioned, you cannot flush your toilet paper. That must be put in the waste basket after wiping. Although this seemed gross at first, you quickly get used to this.
- Don't waste electricity! Nothing is wasted in Peru. Food is never thrown away. Water and electricity are conserved. Many houses will turn on their water heater before showers and turn it off after. In my house ALL appliances are unplugged while not in use (For example: I must plug in the microwave to heat something up and then unplug it from the wall once finished. The same is true for chargers or lamps, etc.)
- House shoes are a needed item as a Peruvian. Many countries consider it polite to remove your shoes when entering someone's home, but in Peru this is not the case. It is considered rude to walk around someone's home without shoes- even in socks, but especially barefoot. You will rarely find a home with carpet, and for this the floors can be cold, so most of the time you would want to keep your shoes on anyways. Most Peruvians wear house shoes or slippers while in their own home, but anything less is considered rude.
- Eat slow! Lunch is the largest meal and takes place at 1 or 2 in the afternoon, while dinner is smaller and takes place at 8pm. Most people come home from work to eat with their families and lunch will take at least an hour, sometimes longer. Not all of this time is spent eating, but rather talking with the family and friends eating with you. I am not typically a fast-eater in the United States and my Peruvian father even told me to slow down while eating meals. It is more about taking time to relax and enjoy the food, conversation and company.
- While we are talking about food--the food in Peru is INCREDIBLE! I have loved almost all the dishes that I have tried (even the weird ones like Alpaca-which was my favorite so far!) There is rice served at every meal. Potatoes are very common with all meals as well (Random food fact: potatoes originated in Peru and Peru has over 300 types of potatoes). Deserts are delicious in Peru as well, although I have noticed that they are served less often. In stead of offering a desert, typically fruit is offered at the end of a meal in the house. Usually our mom will pull strawberries and pineapple out of the fridge after a large meal for us to finish with something sweet.
- I have always learned that big families and even exteneded families live together in Latin American and South American countries, but I was still surprised when I came here to realize this for myself. In my house here in Peru I am living with a family of a mom and dad (age 57) and a son (age 30) a daughter (age 27) and the son's wife (age 29) and their cousin is also staying with us (age 21). The son works in insurance, his wife is an architect, the daughter works in marketing- all are very successful. I couldn't believe that successful adults, especially married adults, would be living in their parents' house! But here this is VERY common. There is no rush at all to get out of the parents' house and to be living on your own.
- All Peruvian families have maids who typically live in the house with the family. To be an ama de casa is a very common job for a woman in Peru. Nearly all families have maids, and even a couple of maids (not just especially well-off houses). Our ama de casa is named Sara. Sara does all the house work including: dishes, cleaning everything inside and outside, cooking, laundry, getting groceries, etc.