Tuesday, 22 January 2013 10:46
From the daily bustle of of San Pedro, to the relaxed weekend vibe in the Plaza Tupac Amaru, market life is an important part of the culture of Cusco and Perú. Locals do most of their shopping in neighborhood markets, and that makes for a great variety of goods for sale. From the raimbow of fresh fruits and vegetables, to woven handicrafts, you can buy almost anything under one roof. A must for any visitor to Cusco is to explore the local markets.
This weekend we went out to explore a few markets and share the experience with our readers!
Every weekend in the Plaza Tupac Amaru, vendors gather to sell their wares to Cusco's families. Around the edges of the plaza, furniture makers sell handmade wooden chairs and bedframes, plant nurseries sell blooming flowers and fruit trees, along with clothing, toys and games for children. A few special treats can also be found in the steaming churros and homemade ice cream that tempt all visitors- especially on sunny days like this Saturday.
In contrast is the San Pedro Market, a more utilitarian space that provides a one-stop shop for Cusqueñans living in the historic center. The market is loosely divided into section for artesan crafts, meats, fruits and vegetables, breads and cheeses, and prepared foods. In the artesan craft section, the ubiquitous alpaca sweaters, handmade dolls and knitted hats that one finds all over Cusco are sold. Further back are the meats, where truly every part of the animal is used and valued. Next are the colorful stacks of fruits and vegetables. Some are familiar, others like the chirimoya and granadilla may be new to visitors.
All are delicious and worth sampling. Homemade breads rounds bigger than dinner plates, and Andean cheese- salty and unmelting follow. At the back of the market are some of Cusco's cheapest meals- prepared lunches with soup and entree sell for only a few soles.
Wandering around Cusco, one can find all sorts of tiny markets popping up. While on my way back from San Pedro, I came across a small food fair, highlighting traditional dishes of the Andes.
Local were crowded in to enjoy plates of food, as well as desserts, as this family is enjoying.
However, a darker truth lies with many of these vendors and their suppliers– the poorest of Perú’s people are rural, dedicated to agriculture and livestock farming. More, the highest populations of rural poor live in the Quechua speaking Andean highlands around Cusco. In fact, the national rural poverty rate is over 50%, despite Perú’s growth in tourism.
This is where you can help! Join one of our volunteer programs and help the people of Perú. Teaching English, aiding children in schools and orphanages, or helping out an agricultural family are only a few options. Every person makes a difference!