Why You’ll Want to Date a Local in Peru
During my time living in Spain and Peru, I thought it essential to take my immersion into the country as far as possible. That, for me, meant dating the local men. Dating locals is an awesome way to not only have a passionate love affair, but also to improve foreign language skills, see parts of a city or country unknown to tourists, and experience a place through the eyes of a local. And, of course, it never hurts to have some arm candy abroad. After a disastrous summer fling with a guy possessing the maturity level of a twelve-year-old, I was more than ready to meet a Peruvian with whom I could let loose and have fun for my two months volunteering in Arequipa.
Luckily, I met Adolfo at a local bar’s trivia night about two weeks into my stay. I was immediately attracted to him, began to swoon when we discovered we had both lived in Madrid at the same time the year before, and felt even better when I discovered that he was a friend of a few people on my volunteer program’s staff. Since I was told that Adolfo enjoyed dating gringas as they came and went, I knew he would be more than okay once my time in Peru ended.
One lesson I’ve learned from living abroad, however, is that I am a more brave, confident, up-for-anything version of myself.
I had become an expert in dating someone for a short amount of time while traveling and then going on my merry way, so I was not concerned about attachment, as I knew I wouldn’t allow myself to fall too deeply. I was also happy to spend time with someone with whom I could speak Spanish and, similar to the men in Spain that I dated, my conversations with Adolfo flowed effortlessly between English and Spanish.
If you’re lucky enough to meet someone kind while traveling, here are four reasons why I recommend a local fling:
1. You’ll have a built-in travel buddy
Like most travelers to Peru, I was set on visiting Machu Picchu and other nearby villages and cities. I knew I did not want to travel there alone, but the volunteers and staff at my program had either already experienced Machu Picchu or were planning a trip for a later time. I was considering booking my trip with a tour group when Adolfo suggested that we go together. I was so appreciative of this because he had already been there a couple times previously, and I was excited to experience Machu Picchu with a Peruvian. Adolfo knew to look for Groupon deals for hotels, assisted me with train reservations on PeruRail, made sure to haggle the best prices for souvenirs in Cusco, and didn’t hesitate to flag down a car that drove us over two hours from Cusco to our next destination in the Sacred Valley.
2. You’ll feel safe
While in Peru, I felt quite uncomfortable when I was out and about by myself. I made sure to have a friend by my side when venturing out late at night, and during the day I felt relatively safe to stroll around the city alone. Although I never felt that my safety was threatened, I was extremely uncomfortable and self-conscious due to the stares, gestures, and insulting noises from the surrounding men when I would explore the city on my own.
I’m sure it was in part due to being tall, blue-eyed, and pale in a country for which those characteristics are rare, but I really disliked feeling like I couldn’t even walk down the street without experiencing some form of street harassment. I felt more secure when I was out and about with Adolfo because I never had to worry about street harassment. Although I would have preferred not to be catcalled at all, being accompanied by a man who is local to the country made me feel infinitely safer and more comfortable walking around Arequipa at any time.
3. You’ll make good connections
Adolfo was born and raised in Arequipa, so he of course knew the city inside and out. He was helpful with introducing me to deliciously strange local restaurants and bars; because of him I was happy to devour buñuelos (fried dough covered in honey) and less than thrilled to taste anticuchos, or cow’s heart. He also helped in upping my comfort level with the nightmarish insanity that is Arequipa’s public transportation system, something that cannot be fully understood without experiencing it firsthand. When I mentioned getting a dental checkup in Arequipa (because for less than $20, how could I resist?) he immediately recommended I go to his dentist friend, who has been the best dentist I’ve ever been to. Adolfo also knew the best part of the city to purchase inexpensive eyeglasses, and when I had a bad fall at the end of my stay in Arequipa he put me in contact with his doctor friend who told me how to treat my injuries and prescribed me the appropriate antibiotics. I also never would have experienced the craziness that is Peruvian fútbol had he not invited me to a game at Arequipa’s Melgar Stadium! He helped me immensely during my time in Arequipa and I definitely began to learn about the city through a local’s perspective.
4. You’ll experience true generosity
A must-have quality for any man I date, Peruvian or otherwise, is generosity. I was lucky to find this awesome characteristic in Adolfo, and after speaking with other friends who’ve dated Peruvian men, I learned that this trait is quite common among them. When I had a stomach bug as a result of unknowingly ingesting the city’s unfiltered water, Adolfo didn’t hesitate to bring me crackers and ginger ale in bed. When I needed antibiotics for infected cuts on my legs, he drove me right to the pharmacy and picked up just what I needed. During my last weekend in Peru, he invited me to his family’s house, where I met his incredibly sweet mom and aunts and enjoyed a huge, delicious lunch prepared by his mother. Even though I had just met his relatives, they all welcomed me with open arms and kisses. I felt so comfortable and happy to be a part of another family, if only for a short while.
In the beginning of our dating, I was not used to such intense care and generosity. I had never been treated in such a way so early on, and typically it would have made me hesitate to spend more time together. One lesson I’ve learned from living abroad, however, is that I am a more brave, confident, up-for-anything version of myself. I decided to accept and embrace the Peruvian intensity as a cultural trait and as another part of this new adventure. Peruvian men take good care of their foreign enamoradas, and I highly recommend dating a local to experience it for yourself!