San Pedro Market in Cusco and more - Days 496 - 497
Another day wandering, finding out about weird traditions and visited the San Pedro Market in Cusco. We love markets, don’t you? The hustle and bustle, the sensory overload and watching people trying to get a bargain.
Day 496: After playing with our host’s gorgeous daughter Paola and another lovely lunch in our favourite Jack’s café we wandered through town to the Contemporary Art Museum. Unless we missed something, there were only two exhibitions. (Oh, I have just researched, and we did, there was an upstairs with more than 280 works – Doh!)
The first Exhibition was large photos showing a traditional ceremony that takes place annually in Paucartambo. Funny enough, our lovely host Ores was telling us all about this at breakfast in the morning.
The tradition stems from the Catholic and Inca faiths fighting between them after the Spanish invasion back in the 1500s. Each year for 4 days in the middle of July the town celebrates the Virgin of Carmen. Many of the locals dress up in costumes called Qhapaq Qolla. They enter the temple to greet Mamacha Carmen. Afterwards, there is much dancing, drinking (including giving llamas beer!) plus whipping! This is called Yawar Unu which means “river of blood” where two dancers whip each other’s legs demonstrating their strength and resistance. Hopefully, there are no rivers of blood!
The other exhibition was called “Super Powerful Beauty”, a series of 12 paintings of flowers by a lady called Maricia (no more details). These were selected from more than 200 plant species domesticated by the ancient Peruvians. Weirdly the Cantuta, the national flower of Peru and sacred flower of the Incas, was not included. I wish I could plant like that, but like anything, it is all about practice. I am sure I said I was going to draw each day in a past blog. Well, that didn’t happen. I have kept up my Duolingo learning for nearly a month though, anyone wants to connect with me there?
We moved on to San Pedro Market. As we got closer, we noticed more street vendors and women in their traditional clothes selling fruit in wheelbarrows. The street opened up and in front was a substantial undercover market. The multitude of colourful textiles was amazing, bags, ponchos, scarves and hats. Ooh, so tempting. Once we got past this, we could see rows of women selling freshly made fruit juice from an array of fruit.
Further on into the market there were rows of stalls selling meat, some of which we hadn’t a clue what it was, especially the weird looking white flat dried slab. There were too many flies around, so we diverted past to the dried fruit and nuts stands. Well, I have never seen such big pecans. They are probably three times the size that we get in the UK. More rows of Cheeses, Spices, Fish, Grains, Flowers, you name it, it was there. Such a plethora of food.
The overload to the senses must have got to us as we were both feeling tired, time to struggle up the hill to our Airbnb.
In the evening we popped down to a local restaurant that was renowned for its Cuy. Tim had already placed his order as it takes an hour to cook. Sadly he was not impressed. The skin was like rubber, similar to a baked chicken skin that has been left to chill. The meat was like red chicken meat and not much of it either. All I can say is it serves him right. Poor little Guinea Pig.
Day 497 – Not much to report for this day. I stayed in bed for the whole day, apart from the sudden rush to the bathroom. Our hosts, Émy and Ores, have been so wonderful, they gave me a large thermos full of muña tea which is good for stomach problems. We watched a couple of films and played some games of cards. I must have been poorly, Tim won every game. That certainly would not have happened if I was well.
We have been fortunate with our health. Apart from my dramatic collapse in Brazil, I have been pretty well until Cusco. Sadly I don’t think the high altitude suits my disposition!