Today was much more relaxed than yesterday. I was feeling quite tired (more from the stress of the return journey than the walking) and took my time before setting off. I retraced my steps of yesterday but, instead of getting off at Maras, I took the collectivo as far as Chinchero where there were more Inca ruins and a Sunday market.
Sunday seems to be a main market day everywhere. In Huaracondo, there were a few ladies selling their produce around the plaza as well as a number of food stalls, principally selling roast pig. There was also a huge market in Izcuchaca, which I had intended to visit on my return from Chinchero but, by the time I arrived back, I didn’t feel like going.
The market in Chinchero is a mix of tourist and local produce. There were obviously many people coming from the surrounding villages for a social occasion as there were groups of people sitting around eating and drinking chicha. However, there were also a number of tourist vans lined up in the parking area.
I had a quick look at the market but very quickly tired of the number of ladies trying to sell me their products. If only they learned not to hassle they might get some more sales but I, for one, walk away as soon as they start. It is impossible just to look and then decide on something you like before the bargaining begins. Even just looking, prompts the question ‘how much do you want to give?’.
Instead, I headed up the hill towards the ruins. At the top, there was a very unprepossessing looking church but, when I went in, (fortunately it was actually open), it was quite extraordinary with painted ceilings, walls and even roof beams. There were also some South American influenced religious paintings and a fair amount of gold in the altar. I was very glad to have been able to see it.
Afterwards, I sat and watched men playing football on one of the Inca terraces, the walls on two sides making good stops for the ball. Once the ball went over the edge of the terrace, though, it seemed to indicate that the game was at an end.
In the meantime, the ladies appeared to be having a meeting in one of the old Inca ‘rooms’. When I returned after walking through the ruins, the men and women had joined together for lunch but the women were in one ‘room’ and the men in an adjoining one, which I thought was quite funny.
The ruins were much more extensive than at first appearance. As per usual, there were terraces on the steep hillside and the setting was beautiful. At the far end, were some rocks with wedges cut out of them and one large rock even had steps as well. No one really knows how, what or why these wedges were made. In the very large rock, there was a much bigger wedge that, according to legend, was the Inca Doorway to the other world.
On my way back down the hillside, I stopped at a weaving shop that Lyle had told me about and Ilda (or maybe Hilda as the Spanish never pronounce their ‘h’s), showed me her weaving and told me about the significance of the colours. They dye all their own wool using plants or insects, spin it and then weave it into traditional patterns. She was stitching the border of a table runner when I arrived, which looked very time consuming and laborious.
Naturally, I had to buy something. I always prefer to buy from the maker than in the market place, where the item could have been made by anyone. As I didn’t have enough cash on me and my credit card doesn’t seem to work in Peru, she said she would deliver it to me this evening and collect the cash. This she did and I am now the proud owner of an expensive alpaca table runner! She also got an order from Lyle and Lily so it was definitely worth her while doing the delivery. (And, for the record, there were no mates rates and she didn’t budge much on her price!)
The journey back to Huaracondo was much more straight forward than that of yesterday. After a little wander in Izcuchaca, which was thronging with people and traffic, buying a cheap bottle of wine, which turned out to be almost undrinkable, and a doughnut (edible), I managed to find the collectivo station by watching departing Huaracondo collectivos and seeing from where they emerged.
Back at the village, I tried the roast pig, which was very tasty, although a large amount of fat came with it. It was accompanied by a dry flat bread roll. The bread here is not exactly wonderful. This kept me going until dinner, which, for once, we ate at the table with the mother and son from Bogota, who had also been staying the last couple of nights. I had previously had dinner on my lap in front of the television as it was only Lyle and me, Lily having taken the other two on a tour.