Im afraid markets are like a magnet for me just like second hand bookshops..The market here in Huancayo was on my list of "must sees" as was the amazing train journey to get here...Then, at that time this was the highest train in the world...Also this was the highest that I had ever been also, as far as altitude was concerned. The market was located right by the Huancayo Railway station so was not far to walk .The many locals in the market sucking on their "coca" leaves were , I am sure , higher than I was!!! The locals were so colourful in their wraps, ponchos and hats..they all wear hats!!! This was not only the highest I had ever been but to get here took the highest Railway to the highest market...wonderful..
Altitude sickness got me up here so much so that I was really unable to spend a lot more time here than I had planned to. I don't think I had ever felt so tired and breathless..Nevertheless ,I got to enjoy the market and looked through the many stalls selling the local products..I finished up with two alpacca ponchos and a wide brimmed hat. One can't be not impressed by this Alpacca wool so soft and warm...later I was to use these ponchos a lot in my further travels in Peru and Bolivia.
I HAVE TO SCAN MORE PHOTOS FOR THIS PAGE..
Every Sunday people from surrounding come here for selling their goods, or looking and buying. Personally, I like the vast flee market; there you can find everything! But also the handicraft sellers are important, as food sellers. Many go there and buy food for the whole week, and next Sunday again...
After you've done shopping for wool scarves, bags and jumpers, this is an easy hike starting on the main plaza of Hualhuas. Ask to be pointed in the direction for San Jeronimo then walk!
This will take you out of the town via typical streets and in the countryside among fields then back into 'urban' setting in San Jeronimo.
The walk is done easyly in an hour or so on a flat terrain with time to take in the landscape or look at the architecture.
Once in San Jeronimo, have a freshly squeezed orange juice from a cart to recover and start shopping for silver goods. My best find: a delicate rose-shaped brooch for 5 soles, down from 20 soles without even bargaining!!
Note; you can visit a silversmith if you ask around.
Photo 1: the outskirts of Hualhuas
Photo 2: the outskirts of San Jeronimo
Photo 3: a silversmith in San Jeronimo
Olimpico is an old and traditional restaurant in the center. It offers everything but patchamanca which is served far from center because of smoke.
Favorite Dish: Papa la Huancaina, potatoes with strong sauce.
60 different plates and many sweet desserts. On Saturdays at 8 o'clock pm serves like a piña, so. with live music and dance.
Favorite Dish: Coctail pisco con algarrovina.
There are several workshops in the two little villages. Some are on the main street, others more difficult to find because off the main street and not really shops, more like private houses where whole families work at carving the gourds. Ask your hotel for recommendations.
We visited two, one of them was:
Artesania Jaspe Alex, Av. Loreto N. 326, Cochas Chico
The main street ones were fine so no need to panic if you cannot find others! One of the work shop on the main street has a little museum, ask to see it.
Photo 1: A family at work sorting gourds
Photo 2: an artist carver explains the story he carved on the gourd
What to buy: Carved gourds. They are locally made but can be bought all over Peru.
First the gourd is brought in from another region, they are then washed and sorted by size. They are carved and coloured by burning the skin with a little gas burner.
There are two types:
1- the standard type which consits of carved and decorated gourds in shapes of boxes, hedgehogs, birds, little charcters etc... These are usually quite cheap and prised according to size.
2- The 'story' gourds. These take ages to carve as the carving is very detailed and very intrincate. They are more expensive. They tell a story that you can read by turning the gourd around and following the little comic strip.
Each carver has his own style and likes to tell some different types of stories. The one we visited explained to us an entire tale while pointing at the illustartion on the gourds: how a young boy from one village wanted to marry a young girl from another village, went to visit the girl's father with the traditional offering of coca leaves and the wedding party that ensued.
What to pay: A few soles for normal gourds (eg. 10 soles for a good size bird, 3 soles fro a medium hedgehog).
From 20 soles to 600-800 soles depending on size for gourds with a story.
Muña (minthostachys setosa) leaves are something like mint. They are growing mostly wild. In the Inka time, it was used to avoid worms in the potatoes.
Nowadays the extraction is used as digestive. The liquor is sold at least in the restaurant of hotel "Olimpico", on the main square.
THERE IS A MUSEUM OUTSIDE OF HUANCAYO CALLED WALI WASI, WHICH MEANS SACRED HOUSE IN QUECHUA. IT HAS MANY NATURAL SCULPTURES AND PAINTINGS OF ANDEAN SPIRITS. THE ARTIST/SHAMAN PEDRO ALSO TAKES PEOPLE TO THE HUAYTAPALLANA MOUNTAINS TO MAKE OFFERINGS TO MOTHER EARTH, AND SEE YOUR FORTUNE WITH THE COCA LEAVES. FROM HUANCAYO TAKE A TAXI (OR BUS) 15 MINUTES,TO CEMETERIO UMUTO AND ASK FOR WALI WASI.