Peru is South America’s geographical triple-threat with beach-front desert on the Pacific coast, the Andes mountains (the second-highest range in the world), and dense Amazon rainforest. It’s also astonishingly beautiful with craggy peaks, lush greenery, lakes the color of aquamarines and sapphires, and so many very (very, very) cute llamas and alpacas.
The history and politics of Peru are as challenging as its rugged terrain. About 500 years ago, the Incas ruled a vast empire. But during a 36-year war, a group of just 168 conquistadors — lead by Francisco Pizarro — brought the Inca empire of about 10 million people to an end. Peru became a Spanish colony and, much later, finally won its independence, only to be bedeviled by presidents, coups, dictatorships, and internal terrorist attacks.
All of that aside, modern Peru is a mystical wonderland for travelers. There’s the aerie of Machu Picchu and the wonder of the Nazca Lines carved in the desert, plus night-time jungle excursions and tours on rope bridges amid the treetops of the Amazon. There’s also stunning architecture in the cosmopolitan cities of Lima, Cuzco, and Arequipa, where you can visit museums by day, then dine of world-class cuisine and sip pisco sours by night.
In this episode, we explore the history and culture of the country that naturalist Alexander von Humboldt called ‘a beggar, sitting on a bench of gold.’ And we recommend six books that capture the Peruvian magic: two memoirs that illuminate Peru’s enchanted landscapes, two cookbooks that explore the culture and fusion cuisine, a detailed account of Incas vs. conquistadors, and a gorgeous novel of friendship and adventure. (show notes / transcript)
Top image courtesy of Sunsinger/Shutterstock.
Want to keep up with our book-related adventures? Sign up for our newsletter!
Strong Sense of Place is a website and podcast dedicated to literary travel and books we love. Reading good books increases empathy. Empathy is good for all of us and the amazing world we inhabit.
If you like the work we do, you can help support us through our Patreon! That'll unlock additional content, too — like Mel's recipe for Banh Mi Bowls, and Dave's behind-the-scenes notes for the latest Two Truths and a Lie.
This is a weekly email. If you'd like a quick alert whenever we update our blog, subscribe here.
We'll share enough detail to help you decide if a book is for you, but we'll never ruin plot twists or give away the ending.
This 30-page Reading Atlas takes you around the world with dozens of excellent books and gorgeous travel photos. Get your free copy when you subscribe to our newsletter.
Content on this site is © 2021 by Smudge Publishing, unless otherwise noted. Peace be with you, person who reads the small type.