Communications and Media
Peru’s national post office service is Serpost (www.serpost.com.pe), and there is an office in nearly every village, or at the very least a buzón or mailbox. Postal service in Peru is fairly reliable and surprisingly expensive. Postcards and letters cost US$2–4 to the United States and Europe, and more if you want them certified. Letters sent from Peru take around two weeks to arrive in the United States, but less time if sent from Lima. If you know Spanish, check for a complete list of post offices by region and provinces in Serpost’s website (www.serpost.com.pe) under Red de Oficinas. To ship packages out of Peru use DHL, FedEx, or some other courier service.
International rates continue to drop both from overseas into Peru, and from Peru overseas. Our favorite option for calling Peru is Skype (www.skype.com), as most Peruvians have a Skype account. Even if they don’t you can charge your Skype account with money and, via a service called “Skype Out,” use Skype to call a Peruvian land line or cell phone. A number of calling cards, which can be purchased online, also make calling Peru incredibly cheap. Alosmart (www.alosmart.com) has a search engine for finding the best card depending on the type of calls you are going to make.
If you would like someone from home to be able to reach you, you should consider renting or buying a cell phone. In the baggage claim area of the airport, there are cell phone agents who rent phones from Peru’s major carriers: Telefónica, Claro, and Nextel. Claro gets the widest service. Buying a cell phone will cost you a minimum of US$30. If you take your cell phone from home with you and it is unlocked, you can buy instead just the sim card for about US$5–10 and have a local number. A new phone comes with a standard number of minutes. Once you expend these minutes, you will need to buy a recharge card, which comes in denominations of US$3.50, US$7, or US$11. You can also charge your phone online. These cards allow callers to call both nationally and internationally—receiving calls is free once you have the phone.
Most towns have public phones on the main square and usually an office of Telefónica, Peru’s main phone company. The phones are coin-operated, but most people buy telephone cards.
The most popular prepaid card is called 147 and can be bought in denominations of US$3–30 at most pharmacies, supermarkets, and from the Telefónica offices themselves. Also available are HolaPerú cards for international calls. In either case, dialing the United States is more or less about US$0.80 per minute, and a local call, with 147, is about US$0.15 per minute. Surcharges are applied to all calls made from pay phones, so use your hotel phone or walk into any small store in Peru with the green-and-blue phone symbol above it.
All major international phone cards can be used in Peru, as long as you know the access code: AT&T is 0800-5000, MCI is 0800-50010, TRT is 0800-50030, and Sprint is 0800-50020. Worldlink has no direct access in Peru.
The cheapest way to make long-distance calls from Peru, however, is via the net-to-phone systems available at many Internet places for as low as US$0.17 per minute calling to the United States or Europe. There can be a lag when calling with most of these services, though Internet cafés that have cable service are usually crystal clear—often even better than a phone!
All long-distance calls in Peru are preceded by a 0 and the area code of that particular region, or department, of Peru. For instance, for calling Cusco all numbers are preceded by 084—these preceding numbers are listed whenever a number is listed in this book. All home phones in Lima have seven-digit numbers, and numbers are six digits in other towns and cities in the rest of the country. All cell phones have nine-digit numbers in all of Peru.
Peru’s country code is 51, and each of the 23 regions in Peru has a different code. Cusco, for instance, is 84. So dialing a Cusco number from the United States would be 011 (used for all international calls) + 51 (country code) + 84 (city code) and then the number. All cities in Peru have two-digit city codes when dialing from overseas, except Lima. When calling Lima from the United States dial 011-51-1 and then the number. When dialing Lima from within Peru, however, you must first dial 01.
To place a direct international phone call from Peru, dial 00 + country code + city code + number. The country code for Argentina is 54, Australia is 61, Canada is 1, Chile is 56, Denmark is 45, France is 33, Germany is 49, Netherlands is 31, Israel is 972, Japan is 81, New Zealand is 64, Norway is 47, Spain is 34, Switzerland is 41, the United Kingdom is 44, and the United States is 1. So for calling the United Kingdom from Peru, callers should dial 0044 before any number, and for the United States 001.
Collect calls are possible from many Telefónica offices, or you can dial the international operator (108) for assistance. The correct way to ask for a collect call is: “Quisiera hacer una llamada de cobro revertido, por favor.”
The following codes can be called for help: directory assistance 103, emergency assistance in Lima 105, international operator assistance 108, national operator assistance 109, fire 116, and urgent medical assistance 117. The chance of finding an English-speaking operator at these numbers is slim. However, Iperú maintains a 24-hour English-speaking operator at Jorge Chávez International Airport in Lima for emergencies (tel. 01/574-8000).
Sending a fax from Peru to the United States is expensive, ranging US$2–9 per page to the United States or Europe. Instead of a fax, scan your document and send it as an email attachment. Fax machines are available at most hotels, photocopy stores, and Telefónica offices.
Using a computer is by far the cheapest and most convenient way to communicate in Peru. Internet cafés are everywhere and are popping up in even tiny towns. Using the Internet is cheap (US$0.40–0.70 per hour) and often you can also make cheap net-to-phone overseas calls through Skype.
There is a lot that goes into choosing an Internet café, however. First off, make sure it is a high-speed connection, which in Peru is generally referred to as “speedy.” Some speedy connections, however, are much faster than others. If your email takes more than a minute or two to open up, we suggest you head elsewhere. Another huge factor is noise, especially with Internet places that cater to schoolkids, who show up each afternoon and shout and scream and wrestle with each other over who gets to use what machine.
Besides speedy, which is a DSL line, Lima and the bigger cities now have faster connections with cable modems and—most important—crystal-clear, dirt-cheap international calls. Sometimes a remote jungle town can have a satellite Internet center, which is also amazingly fast.
Nowadays most upscale and medium-range hotels will have free WiFi access for guests traveling with laptops. In Lima and other touristy cities like Cusco, Arequipa, Trujillo, Puno, or Huaraz, you will find cafés with free WiFi access.
Printed and Online News
Publications in Spanish are headed by El Comercio (http://elcomercio.pe/), the largest and oldest standard daily newspaper with major credibility in Peru. It has a variety of supplements and magazines with good information on cultural activities and performing arts, including Somos, a weekly magazine published every Saturday. Among a dozen tabloids, two are worth checking out: Perú21 (http://peru21.pe), with a moderate center political standing, and La República (http://larepublica.pe), traditionally left-oriented.
Caretas (www.caretas.com.pe) is a weekly magazine that has been around for more than half a century, founded by the Gibson/Zileri family. It is published every Thursday and contains a good deal of local political content, as well as sections devoted to art, humorous essays, interesting letters to the editor, jokes, crossword puzzles, and great photographs.
DedoMedio (www.dedomedio.com), with its slogan “la verdad aunque te duela” (the truth even if it hurts you), is a brilliant monthly publication full of satire, highly acidic content material, great caricatures, and very good written articles about almost any topic you can think of including domestic politics, art, music, etc.
Some useful news websites in English include Living In Peru (www.livinginperu.com), which also has classified ads and vast information on cultural activities, tourism, and gastronomy, among other subjects. One of the oldest English-written newspapers in South America, The Andean Air Mail & Peruvian Times (www.peruviantimes.com) resurfaced some years ago in the Internet, offering feature articles, op-ed columns, and good overall coverage of what is going on in Peru. The Expat Peru Network (www.expatperu.com) also offers local news coverage—actually linked to The Peruvian Times—but focuses more on service information such as legal aspects, traveling to Peru, and several discussion forums by topic.
© Ross Wehner and Renée del Gaudio from Moon Peru, 3rd Edition