My hiking plans for the day fell fell through, so I jumped on a bus to Pisac to see the Big Market Day. I was a little hesitant to go, after reading and hearing how it is swamped with tourists as well as little girls with cute lambs begging you to pay them to take their picture. But I was on a mission: my throat desperately needed a scarf to protect itself from the cold Cusco nights, and I wanted to get pictures of, and maybe buy, a Chancay doll. These are reproductions of burial dolls from the Nasca area desert. The modern versions are reportedly made from ancient fabrics that are found in desert burials. Apparently, you can just kick around in the sand and unearth as much burial cloth material as you desire.
So the market actually wasn´t too busy, and I wandered about and successfully got a scarf and a doll from the same lady, for what turned out to be good prices and easy bargaining (perhaps I should have started lower…) I then discovered that with taking photos, the most challenging part is to crop out all the other tourists taking photos. That way you get more “authentic” photos of the market… ;) The other key is to sneak them quickly so that everyone in the picture doesn´t ask you for a propina, a tip. I eventually resorted to replying, “¿a propina para la fruta?” – “what, a tip for the fruit? I was taking a picture of the fruit!” (As always, pictures can be seen on Flickr)
I then enjoyed a choclo con queso – giant corn on the cob with cheese, and a little later, a giant bread fresh from the oven. Just as I was about ready to leave, I ran into some other volunteers, Katelyn and Heather, and we went for an incredible meal at a restaurant overlooking the market square. When it was time to head back, we walked back to the bridge, and hopped on the bus with the giant CUSCO letters on the front. It took off, and after several minutes I thought, “hmmm, did any of us ask if this is going to Cusco?” It didn´t seem to be heading back up the mountain from where we came… When the ticket guy came by we discovered, no, it is continuing on to Calca. So…we had a half hour ride to Calca, and then headed back. But as fate would have it , it turned out to be good because we had seats, and by the time the bus got to Pisac, it was standing room only all the way back to Cusco.
edit – Sept. 2009: A photo of mine from this trip to the market is a finalist in the Conde Nast $25,000 Dream Trip Contest!
My choclo con queso with the seller in the background
The ticket for the correct route back to Cusco