Tiempo Peruano

Most of what we’ve learned about tiempo Peruano (Peruvian time) we’ve learned from our kid’s activities. We’ve gotten to the point where if someone tells us a las cuatro (“at four O’Clock”) we can probably show up at 4:40 and if someone says cuatro punto (“Four O’clock sharp”) we can probably show up at 4:20.

Juan, our daughter’s basketball coach, is a great guy but we’ve learned to significantly pad his practice and game start times. For her first practice, he told us 8:00 am on a Sunday morning. Just to be sure, we showed up at 7:55 am and waited for him to stroll in at 8:40 am. Once he was there the other players quickly rolled in and everyone was there and practicing by 9:00 am. It was if everyone was in on the joke but us gringos. When I asked the mother of one of the players why no one arrived at 8:00 pm, she smiled and shrugged and said “tiempo Peruano.” For each ensuing practice, we arrived a little bit later until we had found the right formula. Likewise for our daughter’s first game; when Juan said "seis punto" we dutifully showed up at 6:00 pm but the game did not start until 6:20 pm. Thereafter we padded the basketball game start times by 20 minutes.

The kids’ afternoon volunteer jobs at Colibri are supposed to start at 4:00 pm, but the first few times we dropped them off, there door was locked and no one was there. Thereafter, each day we left 5-10 minutes later than the day before and finally settled into a 4:45 arrival slot. The kids’ nightly swim practices are scheduled to start at 6:30 and every time we ask Coach Cristian it is reinforced as such, but a practice has never started earlier than 6:45 pm. In fact, the other swimmers roll in between 6:45 pm and 7:15 pm, seemingly oblivious to any schedule.

We are thankful for these experiences, as it gives us insight into how Peruvians view time differently than we do. By experimentation, we’ve arrived a formula that works for us and gets our kids to their activites “on time.” No one can explain to us why 4:00 pm really means 4:40 pm…they just shrug and say “tiempo Peruano.”


  1. Ohhhh.. Shame, shame, shame! Sorry about that!

  2. No te preocupes.
    We have gotten used to the attitudes towards time.