If you want to understand local traditions and values while hopping across Peru, pay attention to the statues. Here are a few my favorites after traveling and living in Peru for the past five years.
What’s in a statue?
By paying attention to the statues that you come across while traveling, you can learn a lot about a culture. And within Peru, there is a huge cultural diversity between the region’s many indigenous communities. If you pay attention to the statues that you find, you can learn a lot. You can learn about local heroes, you can learn about historical events, you can learn about important plants, and you can learn about cultural values.
Downtown Pucallpa: Siren and dolphins
The Shipibo-Conibo are the most important indigenous group in this dusty jungle city that borders along the Ucayali river. And there are many traditional legends and stories about sirens and mermaids. Pink river dolphins are also very important animals for the Shipibo, and are plentiful within the Ucayali river. You can find this statue along the boardwalk beside Pucallpa’s main port.
Lamas’ lively plaza: Campesino grinding coffee beans
Lamas is a small town that’s located about an hour outside of the high-jungle city of Tarapoto. This small town is well-known for its high-quality cacao and cafe which locals grow in the surrounding areas. There are several small chocolate factories located in the town which make some of the best chocolate of Peru, thanks to the area’s high-quality cacao beans.
Tupac Amaru in Plaza Tupac Amaru, Cusco
Tupac Amaru is one of the most important indigenous figures in the history of Peru. He brought together millions of indigenous people in order to resist against exploitation at the hands of the Spanish. Sadly, he was eventually caught, tortured, and murdered by the Spanish. But he also inspired a wave of resistance which eventually led to their freedom from Spain. He is a legend and a hero for all within Cusco.
A lively statue in Santa Teresa, near Machu Picchu
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then this statue might be worth a novel. It is full of story and symbolism. For those who take the time to study its unique details, you can learn a lot about the history, people, lifestyle, and values of people within this area.
Pucallpa: Ayahuasca and other plants
Along the malicon (boardwalk) of Iquitos, you’ll find many interesting statues, but this is one of my favorites. I love its simplicity, and it seems to have been inspired by jungle plants, particularly by ayahuasca, a vine which is used to make a hallucinogenic beverage that is traditionally used by indigenous shamans of the jungles.
Barranco: Lima’s lively art
If you stroll through Barranco, located within the Lima metropolitan area, you’ll find lots of lively and funky art, such as this monkey which was temporarily on display. This is a great place to go to learn about and to connect with Peru’s most skilled contemporary artists.