Are you getting ready for a trip to Peru? Whether for a brief visit or a long-term stay, there’s no doubt you’ll have an incredible time there. As is the case in most of South America, Spanish is the predominant language spoken in Peru. Sure, you’ll find plenty of Peruvians who can speak the English language fluently or at least well enough to communicate with you on a basic level. But the reality is that by making an effort to communicate with locals in their native tongue you’ll have a much higher chance of striking up a fun conversation. And not only will you be able to enjoy the company of those around you so much more, but you’ll also feel confident and ready for just about any situation.
Here are 5 phrases every traveler should learn before visiting Peru:
Pata is the casual way of saying “friend” in Peru. Sure, you’ll get by if you know the standard “amigo,” but you’ll earn some street cred by using the local “pata” instead. If you look it up in the dictionary, pata actually means foot. The use of it as a description for a close friend shows how we depend on our friends just as we do our feet, which is actually quite a sweet explanation.
2. ¡Viva Perú, carajo!
Peruvians are enthusiastically patriotic and love to shout out this phrase whenever a flash of patriotism is called for. The PG translation of this favored Peruvian expression is “Long live Peru!” And the literal meaning? Well, let’s just say it’s a bit more adult-rated.
Every country has its own way of saying “cool,” and in Peru it’s “vacán.” Spelling on this one is not agreed upon, so you may see it spelled with a “v” or a “b,” with or without an accent mark. (Chances are you won’t be reading or writing this word anywhere, so don’t fret about the spelling!) A handful of other South American countries use vacán as well, though if you travel far enough you’ll find a dozen or more ways to say “cool” throughout the continent.
This incredibly popular dish is a long-standing favorite in Peru. Like the ceviche you’ll find in other countries, Peruvian ceviche’s base is raw fish briefly marinated in lots of fresh lime juice. Add some hot chili, preferably ají amarillo, thinly sliced red onion, local sweet potato, Peruvian corn that traces back to the Incas, and a few other key ingredients, and you get an explosion of flavor that’s perfect for a hot day on the coast.
5. Pollo a la Brasa
When you arrive at a polla a la brasa restaurant, you may think you’re in for just another rotisserie chicken. But, it’s no surprise, this isn’t like the chicken you buy at a deli back home. Pollo a la brasa can be seen on nearly every corner in many Peruvian towns, from humble hole-in-the-wall type places to upscale restaurants catering to the cloth napkin crowd. Not only does the chicken taste great, but the real treat is the handful of dips that accompany each order.
Learning some Spanish basics before your trip to Peru doesn’t have to be that hard! Arm yourself with the right phrases and key words and you’ll be ready to hit the ground running!
If you’ve studied Spanish at some point in your life, why not test your Spanish skills and see how much you remember? And if you’re brand new to the language, it’s never too late to learn the basics!