Email has become a favorite way to communicate in Peru. Lima, Cusco, and other larger cities have dozens of Internet cafs. (Look for a sign with an @ symbol out front.) Even on the shores of Lake Titicaca you can stop in a small shop and send an email message back home for about $1 USD. And many of the country's airports, including Lima's Jorge Chvez International Airport and Cusco's Teniente Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport, offer wireless connections if you're traveling with your own laptop or wireless device. Even hotels that don't have wireless in their rooms will probably have a strong signal in the public areas.
Computer keyboards in South America are not quite the same as those in English-speaking countries. Your biggest frustration will probably be finding the "@" symbol to type an email address. On a PC you have to type "Alt+164" with the "Numbers Lock" on or some other combination. If you need to ask, it's called arroba in Spanish.
If you're traveling with a laptop, carry a converter if your computer isn't dual voltage (most are these days), otherwise your existing power cord will work just fine. Carrying a laptop could make you a target for thieves. Conceal your laptop in a generic bag, and keep it close to you at all times. Cybercafes lists more than 4,000 Internet cafs worldwide.
The good news is that you can now make a direct-dial telephone call from virtually any point on earth. The bad news? You can't always do so cheaply. Calling from a hotel is almost always the most expensive option; hotels usually add huge surcharges to all calls, particularly international ones. In some countries you can phone from call centers or even the post office. Calling cards usually keep costs to a minimum, but only if you purchase them locally. And as expensive as international mobile phone calls can be, they are still usually a much cheaper option than calling from your hotel.
To call Peru direct, dial 011 followed by the country code of 51, then the city code, then the number of the party you're calling. (When dialing a number from abroad, drop the initial 0 from the local area code.)
To get phone numbers for anywhere in Peru, dial 103. For an operator, dial 100, and for an international operator, dial 108. To place a direct call, dial 00 followed by the country and city codes. To call another region within the country, first dial 0 and then the area code.
To reach an AT&T operator, dial 0-800-50288. For MCI, dial 0-800-50010. For Sprint, dial 0-800-50020.
For international calls, you should dial 00, then the country code. (For example, the country code for the U.S. and Canada is 1.) To make an operator-assisted international call, dial 108.
AT&T Direct (800/225–5288. www.att.com/esupport/traveler.jsp.)
Sprint International Access (817/698-4199.)
Public phones use phone cards that can be purchased at newsstands, pharmacies, and other shops. These come in denominations ranging from S/3 to S/40. Your charges will appear on a small monitor on the phone, so you always know how much time you have left. Instructions are usually in Spanish and English.
If you have a multiband phone (some countries use different frequencies than what's used in the United States) and your service provider uses the world-standard GSM network (as do T-Mobile and AT&T), you can probably use your phone abroad. Roaming fees can be steep: 99 a minute is considered reasonable. And overseas you normally pay the toll charges for incoming calls. It's almost always cheaper to text message than to make a call, since text messages have a very low set fee.
If you just want to make local calls, consider buying a new SIM card for a few soles (note that your provider may have to unlock your phone for you to use a different SIM card) and a prepaid service plan in the destination. You'll then have a local number and can make local calls at local rates. If your trip is extensive, you could also simply buy a new cell phone in your destination, as the initial cost will be offset over time.
If you travel internationally frequently, save one of your old mobile phones or buy a cheap one on the Internet; ask your cell-phone company to unlock it for you, and take it with you as a travel phone, buying a new SIM card with pay-as-you-go service in each destination.
Cellular Abroad. Cellular Abroad rents and sells GMS phones and sells SIM cards that work in many countries. 800/287–5072. www.cellularabroad.com.
Mobal. Mobal sells and rents satellite phones (starting at $12 USD a day) plus world phones that will operate in 190 countries. SIM cards for some are also available. Per-call rates vary throughout the world. 888/888–9162. www.mobal.com.
Planet Fone. Planet Fone rents cell phones for $21 USD per week, but per minute rates are expensive. 888/988–4777. www.planetfone.com.