We've been in Cusco, Peru, for several days now, seeing the great sights of this ancient city and taking day trips to the surrounding areas. There is another reason to spend a few days in this entrance to the Sacred Valley. We found out that Cusco is 11,150 feet above sea level. The time spent here allows us to acclimatize to the altitude before hitting Machu Picchu, hopefully avoiding altitude sickness. That's OK. Today we're going to the Pisac Market. I love markets! Let's check it out.
Pisac is a Peruvian village that is situated in what is known as the Sacred Valley. Otherwise known as the Urabamba Valley, this is considered an important area that at one time was the heartland of the Inca Empire. Urabamba is the name of the river that formed this basin and includes the amazing ruins of Pisac and Ollantaytambo. This region was founded in the 1570s by a Spanish conquistador known as the Viceroy of Toledo.
The market is held every day of the week. However, today is Sunday, the most popular day for sellers to display, and hopefully sell, their ceramics, jewelry, fruits, vegetables, and grains. I'm amazed to learn that many of the vendors leave their homes in this mountainous region of the Andes in the wee hours of the morning and cart their wares to the market which begins at 9:00 AM.
As we arrive it's obvious that this place is busy! There seems to be an interesting mix of foreign visitors and locals trying to make a living. Hundreds of stalls populate the central square. We see the Church of San Pedro el Apostolo as well as enormous pisonay trees. It is fascinating to see how the natives wear the dress typical of their villages of origin.
This is an artisan market. While many of the vendors sell similar products including knitted scarfs and alpaca jumpers, you can also find products of unique quality that are hand made such as decorative Andean cups and pots.
For me, taking photographs of a scene such as this is all I need to have a good time. However, my wife, Lisa, has become somewhat of an expert at bargaining for prices of merchandise being sold. She has plenty of opportunities to practice her skills here. Whatever price the vendor offers, she comes back with half the amount. After a period of negotiation, the final price is usually about 30% higher than her initial offer.
As I cruise down the side streets, I see two young girls coming towards me. I love the way they dress and the expressions on their faces. Seeing them gives me a good sense of the culture in this rural farming region.
I come across a woman who appears engulfed in reverie. Despite all of the hustle and bustle in this market, she seems unaware of her surroundings. I take great care not to disturb her while I take her photograph for fear of disrupting her pensive mood.
As our time at the Pisac Market winds down, I'm convinced that one of the best ways to get a feel for the culture of a native people is to see them interact in a scene such as this. Anyway, it's now time for the next leg of our day's adventure which will be to see the incredible Inca ruins at Pisac. I love the Andes!