‘Our Irish breakfast here isn’t quite as good as my mammy’s at home’
Christopher Doyle, who runs a hostel in Peru, on a six month trip that has lasted three years
Christopher Doyle is originally from Bansha in Co Tipperary, but now lives in Cusco, Peru, where he is general manager of the Wild Rover Hostel
Working abroad Q&A: Each week, Irish Times Abroad meets an Irish person working in an interesting job overseas. This week, Christopher Doyle, originally from Bansha, Co Tipperary, lives in Cusco, Peru where he is general manager of the Wild Rover Hostel.
When did you leave Ireland and why?
I left Ireland in October 2016 to travel around South America for four to six months, or until my money ran out. I'd planned my trip to start in Cusco before making my way through Peru and moving north towards Colombia. Before I left home I'd been in touch with the owner of the Wild Rover chain, Davie Browne. He's also from Bansha, which is where I grew up. The group owns several large party hostels for backpackers and tourists, and Irish bars and restaurants, throughout Bolivia and Peru. I'd heard they had opportunities varying from volunteering to managerial positions so I contacted them and agreed to do a few weeks volunteering. I left Ireland because I was looking for a completely different experience and I’m glad I landed here in Cusco. I've been in Wild Rover Cusco, which is one of the biggest hostels, for three years and I'm now the general manager.
Did you study in Ireland?
Yes, I have a certificate in exercise and health fitness, which I completed in University of Limerick (UL).
What is Cusco like?
Cusco is a city steeped in history. It's located at 3,200m above sea level, and is the historical capital of Peru and the Inca empire. It's used as the base city for tourism to visit Machu Picchu, Rainbow mountain and the beautiful Sacred Valley. I've visited all these places and enjoyed seeing and learning about them.
The city itself has great restaurants, Peru has won the world culinary award for eight years in a row. There's a choice of everything from budget-friendly to fine dining restaurants. The city has some of the best hotel chains in the world, but all generally are built around ancient Inca structures. The historical centre of the city and buildings are well maintained and preserved.
Peruvians are very welcoming and that is another reason I love it here
It also has a vibrant nightlife where you can party the night away until the early hours. There are people from all over the world passing through daily so it’s always fun. Additionally, I find it a safe city.
Cusco has loads of day trips and tours so there is always something to do. Just on the outskirts of the city you can visit Saqsaywaman, which is an old historical fortress that overlooks the city and views of the whole valley.
The locals are welcoming people. The people are festive, and take their celebrations and traditions seriously. Throughout the year they have colourful parades, marching bands, traditional dancing and also drinking in the streets, which creates a unique atmosphere in the city.
Do any Irish people come to stay?
All the time. Us Irish can be found anywhere in the world and Cusco is no different with everything from backpackers to luxury tourists. Irish bars are very popular in South America, and locals and tourists from different parts of the world love to meet up with Irish people passing through. We have a festival here for St Patrick’s Day. which we started in 2017, called Paddy Picchu Fest, which includes a long puc competition and a parade.We show all GAA matches live, the international Ireland games - be it rugby or soccer or whatever people want to see, so people don't miss out on the sport back home.
What is it like living in Cusco? Is it anything like Tipperary?
I’m from Bansha, a small village, and as much as I love home and miss my family and friends, living in Cusco is great. Everything is in walking distance or a cheap, short taxi drive away, food here is delicious and night life is fun.
You do a fry we hear. What is in it and is it easy to source?
Yes, we have an Irish breakfast here. We have eggs, hash browns, tomato, beans, rashers and toast. It is all easy to source from local providers. It's not as good as the one my mammy makes at home, but not far off.
Do any Peruvians come to the bar to eat and drink?
We've about 60 per cent tourists and 40 per cent Peruvians staying with us at any time. I've made a lot of friendships through locals coming to the bar. Peruvians are welcoming and that's another reason I love it here. We get a lot of visitors over the weekends from many parts of Peru.
If you wanted to come and work in Ireland are there opportunities in your line of work?
I am confident with the experience I have gained in the hospitality industry there would be plenty of opportunities in Ireland. The Wild Rover group are a large company with a lot of staff in this side of the world. I started as a barman in this company, and have worked my way up in several different departments and locations. From travelling and working in different roles, I've learned to work outside my comfort zone.
What is the pay like?
The pay here is according to the cost of living. It's fair and regulated by country standards for all staff members. Compare it to Irish wages it's a lot lower, but it needs to be taken into consideration that South America is much cheaper than Ireland. The job I have also gives me the opportunity to travel and work in several locations.
How is Peru different from Ireland?
Culture and traditions are different. Some events I've been to with locals and friends are nothing like I've seen before - from the way food is prepared and the religious and national parties here are a wonder to behold. The traditions mean so much for the Peruvian people.
Is there anything you miss about living and working in Ireland?
I always miss my family and friends, I was recently home for my brother’s wedding and it was great to see everyone again. Most of all I miss my mother’s cooking, but what Irish person doesn’t miss their mother’s cooking?
Are there any other Irish people in your circles?
There are some other Irish people in Cusco and throughout Peru who I regularly meet. I welcome them at the bar in Wild Rover for most of the GAA matches and sporting events. It's always good to be together and talk about home over a few drinks.
What is it like living in Cusco in terms of accommodation, transport, social life and so on? What are the costs like compared to Ireland?
Cusco is a major city in Peru and to compare accommodation prices to a major city in Ireland, it's cheaper. Transport is cheaper too and more readily available, but the backpacking culture of South America contributes to this. Social life is excellent here in Cusco and caters for different age groups
If you work in an interesting career overseas and would like to share your experience with Irish Times Abroad, email firstname.lastname@example.org with a little information about you and what you do.