Peruvian ladies conversate in Mercado San Pedro
So yesterday was my real Day 1. Thanks to catching up on some overdue sleeping in the afternoon, a few Muña infusions, and a proper night sleep, I was able to wake up fully recovered and ready to explore the city (and yes, if you were following my Instagram, that happened at 5am, the waking up, not the exploring).
If you've known me for a bit (and you know a bit about Cusco) I'm sure it won't surprise you that my first steps took me through Plaza de Armas, the most prominent piece of civil architecture in town where the Cathedral and the Templo de la Compañía de Jesús dominate the huge square.
The arquitechture is short of spectacular, and suprisingly Spanish looking, and that's not only true for the main buildings, but also for the rest of the old city centre.
It is indeed a town for tourists, well adapted, full of little stores advertising they take Visa, and many shouting you promotions in English as you walk down the street. And here is the feeling I think will take a bit to settle, how much is it good and how much is it bad for this culture what is slowly becoming an 'invasion' of tourism and occidental/european culture?
Further into the day, my steps took me to my first grocery shopping experience, and it couldn't have been anywhere better than Mercado San Pedro, the biggest in the city. So truly peruvian, it put my thoughts to rest for at least the time I wandered through its busy lanes. Clothes, fresh juices, meats, vegetables and street food all perfectly organised in a grid of white stalls. All looking the same, all offering very similar products, all shouting very similar sales chatter. It really made me wonder how people sell their product ahead of their neighbour who is clearly a friend of theirs.
So much amazing looking food (not the meats I must say), but oh the vegetables, fruits and legumes... I counted at least 6 types of maíz and countless other types of foods I'd never even seen. So incredible, and so frustrating not to know anything about that food, so incapable of preparing it to be able to taste it. So unable to select what to take as I wouldn't know whether I'd like it or not, and in a way, not even sure how much it was! Quite a lot to learn, but an area I'm really looking forward to learn more and more about.
Another full day of cultural shocks and visual inputs finished with a lovely family dinner at the hostel, a great way to gather everyone together once a week. A lovely way for me in particular to start to know those who will be my family in the days and weeks to come.