Lima, Peru Report of what it's like to live there - 07/18/10

Personal Experiences from Lima, Peru

Lima, Peru 07/18/10

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No. London, Tel Aviv, Freiburg, Osaka

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2. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No. London, Tel Aviv, Freiburg, Osaka

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3. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Washington DC. 11 hours connecting in Miami.

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4. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Washington DC. 11 hours connecting in Miami.

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5. How long have you lived here?

20 months.

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6. How long have you lived here?

20 months.

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7. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, military, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

US Embassy.

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8. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, military, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

US Embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

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2. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

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3. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Everything is available here. Fruits and vegetables are fresh and flavorful and are cheaper than in the USA. Electronics, car parts and brand-name clothing is more expensive - thank goodness for the DPO.

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4. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Everything is available here. Fruits and vegetables are fresh and flavorful and are cheaper than in the USA. Electronics, car parts and brand-name clothing is more expensive - thank goodness for the DPO.

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5. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

I would bring a car.

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6. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

I would bring a car.

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7. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Almost all the American fast food chains are here, and there are many local chains as well. But why would someone want to eat at these places is beyond me... Peruvian cuisine is one of the best in the world! There so many good local restaurants here, cheap and expensive alike. Delicious fresh fruits and vegetables are available in the local markets for you to cook your own delicious meals. Food is one of the strongest selling points for this post.

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8. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Almost all the American fast food chains are here, and there are many local chains as well. But why would someone want to eat at these places is beyond me... Peruvian cuisine is one of the best in the world! There so many good local restaurants here, cheap and expensive alike. Delicious fresh fruits and vegetables are available in the local markets for you to cook your own delicious meals. Food is one of the strongest selling points for this post.

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9. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

No insect problem at all in Lima.

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10. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

No insect problem at all in Lima.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

DPO - Works great.

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2. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

DPO - Works great.

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3. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Cheap domestic help is available. We had good luck with our maid, but I do hear from others that they have problems with theirs.

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4. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Cheap domestic help is available. We had good luck with our maid, but I do hear from others that they have problems with theirs.

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5. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

There is a small gym in the embassy, and many Gold's Gyms all over town - Prices are just like in the USA: about $75 a month.

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6. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

There is a small gym in the embassy, and many Gold's Gyms all over town - Prices are just like in the USA: about $75 a month.

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7. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

You can use your ATM card in many ATMs around town, but be careful. There is an ATM and a Bank on the embassy grounds.

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8. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

You can use your ATM card in many ATMs around town, but be careful. There is an ATM and a Bank on the embassy grounds.

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9. What English-language religious services are available locally?

All denominations are available.

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10. What English-language religious services are available locally?

All denominations are available.

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11. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Direct TV is available.

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12. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Direct TV is available.

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13. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Quite a bit would be very helpful. The embassy provides free Spanish classes.

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14. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Quite a bit would be very helpful. The embassy provides free Spanish classes.

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15. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Public transportation is horrible, so you will need to have your own car or hire a special van that can be costly. Most sidewalks are fine for using wheelchairs, and all apartment bulding have elevators.

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16. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Public transportation is horrible, so you will need to have your own car or hire a special van that can be costly. Most sidewalks are fine for using wheelchairs, and all apartment bulding have elevators.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Public transportation is terrible here. It is cheap, but if you don't know your way around you won't know which bus or combi (small taxi-vans that are never too crowded to pick up more passengers) to take where. Anyone who can afford a car can drive one here. There are many bus companies that run routes to other major cities, and this can be a cheap way to travel. But be sure to travel with a reliable company -- otherwise you may find that your things were stolen in the middle of the night - if you're lucky. If you're not lucky, your bus will fall into a ravine (a weekly occurrence in Peru).

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2. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Public transportation is terrible here. It is cheap, but if you don't know your way around you won't know which bus or combi (small taxi-vans that are never too crowded to pick up more passengers) to take where. Anyone who can afford a car can drive one here. There are many bus companies that run routes to other major cities, and this can be a cheap way to travel. But be sure to travel with a reliable company -- otherwise you may find that your things were stolen in the middle of the night - if you're lucky. If you're not lucky, your bus will fall into a ravine (a weekly occurrence in Peru).

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3. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

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4. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes up to 4MB $50-$100 a month

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2. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes up to 4MB $50-$100 a month

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3. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

The embassy give you one. If not, get a Claro prepaid phone.

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4. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

The embassy give you one. If not, get a Claro prepaid phone.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

No.

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2. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

No.

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3. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Very good vets are available. Peruvians love pure-bred dogs, and there are many grooming services available. Beagles and Schnauzers are the fashionable dogs at the moment.

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4. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Very good vets are available. Peruvians love pure-bred dogs, and there are many grooming services available. Beagles and Schnauzers are the fashionable dogs at the moment.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Not really. The local economy pays low wages. Most find jobs as ESL teachers. At the embassy there is a lot of competition for each available position, and many times Spanish is required.

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2. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Not really. The local economy pays low wages. Most find jobs as ESL teachers. At the embassy there is a lot of competition for each available position, and many times Spanish is required.

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Business at work and casual in public.

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4. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Business at work and casual in public.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Every apartment building has doormen and guards. Many the neighborhood have private guards, and the city security and police are patrolling all the time. Houses all have walls around them with electric wires. There is not a lot of violent crime in Lima, but theft, bag-snatching and pickpocketing is rampant. Express kidnapping is also something one hears about every now and again. But all in all it is a safe city for the most part, especially in the parts of the city where most tourists go and the rich live.

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2. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Every apartment building has doormen and guards. Many the neighborhood have private guards, and the city security and police are patrolling all the time. Houses all have walls around them with electric wires. There is not a lot of violent crime in Lima, but theft, bag-snatching and pickpocketing is rampant. Express kidnapping is also something one hears about every now and again. But all in all it is a safe city for the most part, especially in the parts of the city where most tourists go and the rich live.

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3. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

There are quite a few very good private health clinics. Good dentists. And not as expensive as in the USA. Many people get plastic and Lasik surgery whike here.

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4. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

There are quite a few very good private health clinics. Good dentists. And not as expensive as in the USA. Many people get plastic and Lasik surgery whike here.

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5. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Unhealthy. Lima is cloudy and foggy for at least 8-9 months of the year. The city is growing at an amazing pace, and there are many cars on the roads. Many of the cars, vans and buses are old and belch horrible fumes. Since it never rains here, nothing clears the air and all the pollution just hovers over the city. Many people have breathing problems and develop allergies.

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6. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Unhealthy. Lima is cloudy and foggy for at least 8-9 months of the year. The city is growing at an amazing pace, and there are many cars on the roads. Many of the cars, vans and buses are old and belch horrible fumes. Since it never rains here, nothing clears the air and all the pollution just hovers over the city. Many people have breathing problems and develop allergies.

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7. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

It never rains in Lima - Never. It is cloudy and foggy, though. Especially during the winter months (Dec-Mar). The coldest it gets is about 10c (50F). In the summer it can get really hot during the day 30c-34c (Upper 80s-90s). But most of the year the temperatures are very comfortable 20c (70f).

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8. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

It never rains in Lima - Never. It is cloudy and foggy, though. Especially during the winter months (Dec-Mar). The coldest it gets is about 10c (50F). In the summer it can get really hot during the day 30c-34c (Upper 80s-90s). But most of the year the temperatures are very comfortable 20c (70f).

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

There are a few international schools. Americans, British, German. A very good special-needs school.

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2. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

There are a few international schools. Americans, British, German. A very good special-needs school.

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3. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

There are a couple of very good-special needs schools.

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4. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

There are a couple of very good-special needs schools.

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5. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Yes many.

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6. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Yes many.

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7. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes. Many swimming academies, Martial Arts, Dance, Horse riding etc.

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8. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes. Many swimming academies, Martial Arts, Dance, Horse riding etc.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Quite large. The embassy it self is big. There are many British, Canadians and Europeans here, too.

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2. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Quite large. The embassy it self is big. There are many British, Canadians and Europeans here, too.

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3. Morale among expats:

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4. Morale among expats:

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5. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

People go out to restaurants, bars, English-speaking theater, shows. Many big-name musicians come to Lima. A lot of parties at home, too.

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6. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

People go out to restaurants, bars, English-speaking theater, shows. Many big-name musicians come to Lima. A lot of parties at home, too.

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7. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

It is good for all. Families with kids benefit from the cheap domestic help, and often have a nanny and a maid.

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8. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

It is good for all. Families with kids benefit from the cheap domestic help, and often have a nanny and a maid.

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9. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

It is not the best, but it is not bad either.

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10. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

It is not the best, but it is not bad either.

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11. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

The Peruvian upper class (mostly white European decent) treats the lower class (mostly natives and mixed-race) very, very badly.

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12. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

The Peruvian upper class (mostly white European decent) treats the lower class (mostly natives and mixed-race) very, very badly.

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13. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Traveling around the country. Hiking the Inca Trail & Machu-Picchu. Cusco is just beautiful. Arequipa is a wonderful place to visit. The Amazon Jungle. The mountains of Huaraz. The food is terrific and definitely a highlight!

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14. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Traveling around the country. Hiking the Inca Trail & Machu-Picchu. Cusco is just beautiful. Arequipa is a wonderful place to visit. The Amazon Jungle. The mountains of Huaraz. The food is terrific and definitely a highlight!

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15. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Again, lots of travel all over the country and neighboring countries, too. Surfing is a very popular sport, and boards and wetsuits can be rented on many beaches.

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16. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Again, lots of travel all over the country and neighboring countries, too. Surfing is a very popular sport, and boards and wetsuits can be rented on many beaches.

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17. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Lots of Alpaca stuff (sweaters, scarves, blankets). Local embroideries, local woodworking.

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18. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Lots of Alpaca stuff (sweaters, scarves, blankets). Local embroideries, local woodworking.

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19. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Lima was the old capital of the Spanish conquest in South America. The old city center has many old and beautiful structures, which include the Cathedral, the Presidential palace, the city hall, congress, etc. There are many church and many interesting museums. Peru is a country with a very rich and diversified culture. Many ancient cultures populated many parts of the country, and there many archeological sites all over the country. There are many places to travel to, so bring your hiking shoes and overnight bag - you will be doing many long-weekend trips.

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20. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Lima was the old capital of the Spanish conquest in South America. The old city center has many old and beautiful structures, which include the Cathedral, the Presidential palace, the city hall, congress, etc. There are many church and many interesting museums. Peru is a country with a very rich and diversified culture. Many ancient cultures populated many parts of the country, and there many archeological sites all over the country. There are many places to travel to, so bring your hiking shoes and overnight bag - you will be doing many long-weekend trips.

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21. Can you save money?

You can save money here as long as you don't spend it all on traveling.

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22. Can you save money?

You can save money here as long as you don't spend it all on traveling.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Absolutely.

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Absolutely.

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3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

umbrella and good driving techniques - you won't be using them.

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4. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

umbrella and good driving techniques - you won't be using them.

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5. But don't forget your:

travel gear and road patience.

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6. But don't forget your:

travel gear and road patience.

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7. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Mario Vargas Llosa, and a passage in Moby Dick about Lima.

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8. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

The movie "The Milk of Sorrow".

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9. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Mario Vargas Llosa, and a passage in Moby Dick about Lima.

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10. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

The movie "The Milk of Sorrow".

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11. Do you have any other comments?

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12. Do you have any other comments?

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