Yesterday morning, I took a taxi to Avenida Argentina (I paid S/.5.00) where I met with Sra. Gloria Velasco Jauregui and Sr. Max Cahuata Pilaves of Centro para el Desarrollo de los Pueblos (CEDEP) Ayllu. My interview went pretty well as I learned a bit more about the land tenure systems and the food security not only in Cusco but also in its neighboring areas.
Visiting Mercado Central de San Pedro
After my interview, I paid S/. 5.00 for a taxi to the San Pedro Market and walked around the market for two hours.
I was mesmerized by the pulchritude of the market where one can find traditional Quechua clothing, cute souvenirs and delicious Peruvian food. I ventured through the market in the quest of a “montera,” a colorful traditional Quechua hat worn by women in the Andes—and found one in a tiny shop near the entrance of the market. The owner of the shop gladly let me try a highly sophisticated montera along with a traditional Quechua k’eperina—a rectangular ornamented piece of cothing used by Quechan women to carry goods and children. Need I mention that my colorful attire drew the attention of dozens of shoppers in the market who instantly stared at me in surprise disbelief! Nonetheless, after two weeks in Peru, I have gotten used to the attention as many people have come to me and expressed their “surprise” to see a person of my complexion roaming around the streets of Peru.
After walking for two hours around the market, I decided to try of San Pedro’s famous jugos (fruits juice). Martha, the owner of a fruit juice stall fixed me a fruits juice made of fresh pineapples, bananas, apples and passion fruits. The concoction was delicious and only cost me S/. 3.00 ($1).
After staring at my hands, Martha gave me a fresh leave of aloe vera as a remedy for my dry skin. In truth, since I landed in Cusco, my skin has been peeling off the palm of my hands because of the cold and the dry air caused by the altitude and as a result, no matter how much Aveeno lotion I put on my hands, my hands remain extremely dry! Martha’s generosity exemplifies the kindness of the vast majority of Peruvians whether in Lima or in Cusco!
Since I had plenty of time on my hands, I decided to visit the Inca ruins of Saqsaywaman, which are located 2 km from Cusco’s historic center. I took a taxi to Saqsaywaman and paid S./ 10.00for the short trip. I was beyond excited to see the ruins and I had my ISIC card in hand in order to qualify for the student fee of S/. 70.00 ($23) instead of the regular foreigners fee of S./ 130.00 ($43). The taxi driver walked me to the ticket counter where a lady refused to give me a student discount because I did not have my Georgetown University student ID. This encounter definitely left me perplexed owing to the ground that I produced the same document at the Museo Larco in Lima and was awarded a student discount! After noticing my huge disappointment, the taxi driver offered to drive me around the ruins for free as he reinsured me that the scenery in Machu Pichu will have me forget about this encounter.
Below are a few snapshots of my “visit” of Saqsaywaman:
The view was amazing and the taxi driver was kind enough to make a few stops as to allow me to take a few pictures of the landscape. Thanks to his kindness, I completely forgot about my earlier dismissal and I thoroughly enjoyed my private tour! As we made our way back to the hostel, I offered him S./ 20.00 because I did not want to abuse his generosity but he declined my offer and only charged me S./10.00! While this anecdote, which could have easily left a bitter taste in my mouth, it definitely put an emphasis on how kind people are in Peru.