IMG_4695When we flew into Cusco, we hired a shuttle to take us to Auguas Caliente near Matchu Pitchu. On the way we had a little pit stop in a predominately Quechua town. Quechua is the language of the Inca Empire. Although most people in Peru speak Spanish (the national language thanks to those pesky Spanish invaders), more than 8 million people throughout the Andes section of South America speak Quechua. Our driver told us it’s a fading language, mostly spoken in more rural communities – taught to children by their families as it’s not taught in school.

Just as North America has its Native American named cities and landmarks, you can see the Quechua language woven throughout Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador. We even use quite a few words originally derived from Quechua – lima, puma, quinoa, jerky, coca, condor and llama.

We stopped in this small town to visit a group of indigenous people. Sure, kind of a tourist trap deal, I get it….but when in Rome. A group of six woman and one older man greeted us and offered us coca tea (well known tea of the coca leaf thought to aid with altitude sickness and aid in digestion. No, it doesn’t make you high like cocaine – if it did, there would be a lot more different kinds of tourists here).

IMG_4690They had us sit down and showed us how they create dye from local berries for the wool they use to make various clothes and blankets. They also had a small pen of Cuy (Guinea Pigs) – cooked for special occasions. Yes, they eat Guinea Pigs in Peru, it’s a delicacy and yes I tried it (tasted a bit like dove or some other game bird).

Then came the tourist trap part – the gauntlet of merchandise they were selling. Basically the same stuff you can find all over Peru. I bought a few items (can’t remember what) but I do remember them getting awfully pushy. Now you really have to haggle a bit – you can’t ever take the first price. Although they got a little pushy, it was still a great experience and I highly recommend doing it if you’re in Peru. I had similar experiences in Thailand and while I wouldn’t do them again – I’m glad I did it once. When traveling abroad – go all-in.

 

 

2 thoughts on “Quechua Pit Stop

  1. Great stuff Darwin!! I want to hear more about your end of the haggling!! I hate confrontation…I can’t imagine what confrontation in another language as a foreigner, would feel like.

  2. Thanks! Yeah, my “haggling” usually just consisted of walking away – which usually caused them to come down in price pretty fast…or they just let me walk (labeling me a cheap American, which I kinda am). Best place to haggle is in bigger cities like Lima – they start off high but will come down the lowest since they have the most inventory and competition. I love buying small paintings, usually from people on the street. I got some greta stuff – although the people who sell it usually say its all their work and they are a “local art student” – and all the paintings look completely different – ha. It was the same in Thailand and Mexico – but you can still find great stuff.

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