I recently had the opportunity to travel to Lima, Peru for an MBA International Seminar class with approximately 35 UNLV students and faculty. This class wrapped up my Master’s of Accounting degree at UNLV. The trip had little to do with Accounting, though I did see condensed financial statements prepared using IFRS. I thoroughly enjoyed the trip – of course, I have many interests besides Accounting! The purpose of the trip was to develop familiarity with Peru’s economy by visiting various organizations and to experience the business etiquette and culture first-hand.
I didn’t experience any culture shock during the trip. I have lived in and spent a significant amount of time traveling in Latin America, so I speak Spanish somewhat fluently and am familiar with the culture. In fact, I had been to Peru nine years ago and seen many of the same places we visited during this trip. However, every trip brings new experiences. I met many great people and experienced new things. During this trip, I ate at more nice restaurants and tried a wider variety of food than I did in my first trip to Peru. I even found the courage to try the Peruvian dish of cuy (guinea pig)!
The trip was different from a typical vacation as a tourist in that we had the opportunity to meet with business leaders and tour company headquarters. I was impressed with the professional atmosphere that existed in each organization, as well as the clean and well-run manufacturing plants. I am grateful for the time each company took to prepare for and give informative presentations and tours.
- It took an adventurous bus ride through a few narrow roads to arrive at El Sarcay de Azpitia, which was located about 80 kilometers southwest of our hotel in Lima. We toured the facilities where they produce Pisco, a strong, colorless grape brandy considered the flag beverage of Peru. At El Sarcay, there is also a restaurant with outdoor seating, where we enjoyed some delicious empanadas. All of the empanadas looked the same on the outside but had varying contents on the inside such as chicken and pork. The flavor ended up being a surprise with each empanada, but I enjoyed them all.
- At the US Embassy in Lima, we discussed political, cultural, and economic issues affecting Peru. The aspect of this visit that I found most interesting was an explanation of what the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) does since I was previously unfamiliar with it. One of the missions of USAID, according to its website, is to support long-term and equitable economic growth and advance U.S. foreign policy objectives. USAID helps businesses deal with the challenges of doing business in other countries.
- We toured Pesquera Diamante, a large fishery company, located near the Jorge Chavez airport in Lima. My first impression had to do with the strong odor that comes along with any company that processes fish products. It wasn’t too overpoweringly pungent, but I could smell it the entire time I was there. I asked one of the workers how long it took him to get used to the smell, and he responded with a smile, “el olor se convierte en dólares” (the smell turns into dollars). I was impressed with the positive attitude that all of the workers seemed to share regarding the smell. They provided us with a few samples of their canned fish products with crackers. They were quite good!
- Spectacular Holistic Circus, an advertising and publicity agency (formerly part of Leo Burnett), gave a presentation centered on creative advertising that touches consumers’ hearts. A few of the memorable commercials and ideas were:
- La Magia de la Solidaridad (The Magic of Giving) by Ponle Corazón, la Fundación Peruana de Cancer (Peruvian Cancer Foundation). This one touched my heart and is one of the best commercials I have ever seen.
- San Fernando – Uniendo a las Familias Auténticas (uniting authentic families). San Fernando is a Peruvian food company that mostly sells poultry products, but its advertising focuses on families. The commercial describes different types of families, lists their last names, and shows how they enjoy meals together. The company’s print advertising uses various last names, and their website rotates the last name used with its logo and phrase “la buena familia” (the good family). The company also has an effective and popular Facebook page that uses rhymes with different last names related to their products.
- El Cuy Mágico (the magical guinea pig) is part of the advertising used by Banco de Crédito del Perú, the largest bank in the country. The commercials are fun and make banking look easy. Plus, nothing makes a bank’s frequently asked questions web page more interesting than a life-sized guinea pig with glasses.
- Another commercial called “cabecitas” from Banco de Crédito del Perú shows two brothers with a dream to break the world record of heading a soccer ball non-stop for an entire week. During this time they are still able to complete banking activities such as making withdrawals and online banking.
- In this entertaining video, Peruvian celebrities travel to the small town of Peru, Nebraska, and share what it means to be Peruvian.
- Alicorp is a large food and household products company. We visited the headquarters in Callao and toured the cookie and pasta plants. I especially enjoyed their glacitas with the new mora (berry) flavor. This YouTube video will give you a virtual tour of the plant.
In Lima, we visited the Cathedral and saw the tomb of Francisco Pizarro, the Spanish conquistador of Peru. We then stopped by the Church of San Francisco, where we went through the catacombs, a set of underground tunnels where thousands of people were buried and we saw piles of old human bones. Lima is a coastal city with some amazing beaches and views of the ocean. We spent several nights at Larcomar, a shopping center near the beach and only a few blocks from our hotel.
After a few days in Lima, we took a short flight to the city of Cusco in the Andes mountain range at an elevation of about 11,000 feet. Cusco was the capital of the Inca Empire, and near the city there are many ruins sites to visit. Most of the city of Cusco is dedicated to the tourism industry.
The highlight of the trip was seeing Machu Picchu. The view of the ancient city and ruins are enhanced by the beautiful green vegetation and mountain surroundings that made me feel isolated from the rest of the world. It is a very peaceful place. As I walked through the corridors of the ruins, I wondered what the life of an Incan would have been like. I imagine that it must have been very pleasant.
The Incan architecture is fascinating. I can only imagine the work that went into polishing the stone walls and making each rock fit together without mortar. We visited ruins near Cusco called Sacsayhuamán, which is particularly interesting because of the size of the boulders used there.
- Chicha Morada, a non-alcoholic drink made from purple maize and spices.
- Lomo Saltado, sirloin strips stir fried with onions, tomatoes and other vegetables.
- Picarones, a doughnut-like desert made from squash and sweet potato, served with syrup.
- Causa, a mixture of tuna (or crab) and avocado, enveloped by a purée of yellow potatoes.
- Papa (potato) a la Huancaína, and spaghetti with huancaína sauce. Huancaína is a yellow sauce made from queso fresco, vegetable oil, yellow Peruvian pepper, evaporated milk and salt.
- Cuy (guinea pig). The picture says it all.