Buying religious paintings in Peru
There was a nice little souvenir shopping arcade near the hotel where I stayed at in Cusco - the hotel was part of the vacation package and I forgot its name already, but I remember it was near the roar of a nearby creek (strong current).
I decided to go around the stalls and vendors were calling me into their shops. I went into an old man's shop and went through the souvenirs, went at the back of his store and saw this nice painting hanging on the wall. I asked him If could buy it, and he hesitated a little bit (I guess he liked the pic himself) but eventually sold it to me. He said US$80 and I thought that was really cheap for a nice oil painting of the Blessed Virgin with the sacred infant Jesus and Joseph and the angel Gabriel. I paid in US$.
He wrapped it up so carefully for me since I did not want him to remove it from its old picture frame. I checked it in at the airport and lo and behold, it came out intact! Thank you sir! But I did give him an extra $20 when I saw that he wrapped it up so well with cardboards and lots of tape...nice old man.
There's a lot of religious paintings in Peru and I wanted to buy one with the Last Supper where the guinea pig is on the table, but I did not see any (except for the original famous Last Supper which I think was at the Cathedral). So, when in Peru, look for these nicely done paintings and buy stuff (not only to help their economy) but also because they have really good artists and craftsmen!
Share your cup
When you buy an enormous beer or a pitcher of cuba libre at a bar, don't be a tourist and ask for more cups. They only gave you one on purpose. You are meant to share the cup. You will pour a little bit of beer in your cup and when you have shot it back (Peruvians don't really sip alcohol), you pass the cup. I noticed that it is also common in Quechua communities to pour a little bit of your beer on the ground before drinking any, to offer it to Mother Earth.
Chinchero market and church
This village felt more remote than the others we visited in the Sacred Valley, perhaps because it's not on the main road that runs the length of the valley but tucked away and rather higher up. We visited on a wet Sunday and although there were plenty of other tourists around, the market was definitely set up primarily for the benefit of local people first and foremost. The traders obviously welcomed the opportunity to sell to the tourists but we could tell that the market would exist and thrive whether we came or not, which was refreshing. Much of the space was given over to foodstuffs but of course there were all the usual textiles and other souvenirs too. Musicians were playing, but again that seemed as much for the locals' enjoyment as for ours. I really liked browsing around here, despite the rain dripping on me from the plastic awnings overhead!
The other main attraction for me in Chinchero was the lovely colonial church with beautiful old paintings both inside and out. It's set on one side of a square which like the church itself is built on Inca foundations, and the setting is lovely, even in the rain.
Take your tourist ticket which you'll need to go up to the church although not for the market.
Watch out for transportation strikes...
Usually one can take the bus from the Cusco airport to downtown Cusco....however, if there is a strike (and riots) of the public transportation community - one will find themself walking a nice 6 or so miles from the Airport to the square in Cusco.
Govinda - Filling Veg food
I visited this restaurant on the last day before I left. They are loacated on a side road leading into the Plaza de arms. It was not crowded and service was slow.
However they served a soup, main course and desert all for 6 soles. Also the meal was so filling as the portions were huge.
They played Indian classical music that seemed to blend with the food. Its worth visting. The main course consistsed of a Veg curry that was make in a peruvian style meat based curry. Where the meat was substituted with soy. It was spicy and filling quantity.
The suprising thing was that they had coffee/tea but did not have sugar substitute.