Kulture Keys: Hora Peruana

One of the more uniquely Peruvian things we learned once we became volunteers was the concept of Hora Peruana (Peruvian Hour). It isn’t necessarily used to say that an hour in Peru last longer or shorter than hours in other places. Time is the same for everyone.

Instead, it get used to describe or excuse when things start late or people arrive delayed. This isn’t just a concept that gets toted by foreigners in Peru and taught to other foreigners. Most Peruvians will also admit that they tend to show up late for things. Or that meetings, for example, never start on time.

It should be said that hora peruana might not be the case in all places in Peru. However I have definitely found it to be true in my community and within my circle of Peruvian friends. For example, if you get invited to attend a meeting at 9am, it is perfectly normal for that meeting to start at 9:30 or even 10am. During the delay you just sit and wait patiently. Or chat with some of the other invitees as they arrive.

Amongst friends, it is perfectly normal for someone to say that they will be there in 15 minutes and not actually show up for 30 minutes. Or to say, “estoy llegando” (I am coming or I am arriving), when actually, they haven’t even gotten dressed yet or left their house.

What’s important is that this concept of time gets built into everything. So much so, that even I have adjusted. I wouldn’t say I always show up late for things, but I do feel myself feeing less rushed when it comes to different events or activities I have planned. And if for some reason I find myself arriving 15 minutes late, it really isn’t a big deal. I also see myself being more patient when my friends fail to show up late. Or are they actually on time? I don’t even know anymore!

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