Sometimes it’s cool to look like a tourist.
AS SOON AS my bus pulled into the station in Cusco, I knew I was going to fit right in — with the gringos that is.
Known for their huge alpaca industry, Cusco makes it easy to spot a gringo from a mile away, decked out head to toe in recently purchased, brightly colored threads. With such fun clothing options to choose from, I ditched my usual travel rules (try to fit in with the locals) and headed straight for the markets.
Sweaters are the most iconic of all gringo purchases. You can bargain down to 30 soles for one sweater. They come in vibrant Quechua colors and various patterns, most involving a llama. Not satisfied with just one, I snapped up two different versions, one in bright red and the other in a soft, furry grey.
Perhaps the most utilitarian items for sale, scarves come in all different colors, textures, and materials. Make sure the piece you are buying is actually alpaca, and not simply sheep's wool.
Scarves range - based on length and quality - from 10 to 20 soles.
Shoes at the market
Shops surrounding the central Plaza de Armas have tables sagging under the weight of piles of shoes for sale. Try on the various colors of high tops, each with traditional patterns sewn throughout.
Pair of Peruvian shoes
One pair should run about 45 soles near the square, and double that in the markets. I've been rocking my Peruvian kicks daily, and have already gotten the NYC nod of approval from numerous passersby.
If you're looking for some non-apparel gifts to bring home, pick up a Pachamama figure. The Pachamama is a symbol of harvest and fertility and is generally thought to bring good luck to a household. Put your bargaining skills to the test and aim for less than 20 soles. (Photo by Miguel Vera)