Oh, I nearly forgot. As we were leaving the thatched house in Ollantaytambo, I noticed the worn down stone by the door.
It’s the family mortar, worn down by years and years of grinding sauces, corn, herbs and and whatever else needed work. Such small personal details are magic, aren’t they?
Anyway, we were off once again and those who’d listened to Terry Breen’s talk about her connections in Urubamba will recognise the red plastic bag outside this house as a sign that there’s chicha available.
A nice street scene through the windscreen, showing the two most popular means of local transport here, too.
We drove through several villages and small towns on the way, including Calca , but we were heading for the market town of Pisac where we were hoping to see some better quality things for sale than this morning in Ollantaytambo.
Well, the first stall was interesting but was still a little hokey for our liking. Funny how, some things look authentic at first glance whilst others simply don’t fit the scene. Those dolls at the back, for example. Made in China perhaps.
Aha! Now we’re talking. Hand knitted hats dyed with natural dyes. Clearly very different from the fluorescent things we’d seen earlier and close inspection revealed all the tell tale signs of a genuinely hand knit article. Not quite the thing to wear in a Cotswold village perhaps, but we knew someone who might enjoy wearing one of them, that’s for sure.
A little further along were chess sets and ludo boards, featuring Andean animals, Incas and Conquistadors. Nicely made, we thought.
It was funny how shopkeepers would listen for words and phrases and then pop out with the item we’d just mentioned. I was chatting to Adriana about braids and quipu and a chap held one out for me to see. An antique example, this was the real deal and the price reflected that, so we didn’t buy, but it was so interesting to see and handle one at close quarters (I didn’t like to photograph something we had no intention of buying, sorry) Whilst he had a captive audience, he brought out a couple of antique bags which the chasqui would have carried, and then a slingshot and a lump of haematite. Such treasures, so interesting to look at, to handle and to learn about but ultimately, best left in their home environment rather than being taken across the globe to put on a shelf!
As we stepped outside, though, my heart skipped a beat.
This woman was weaving a narrow braid with the warp tied to a door knob. She’d separated the warp threads into bundles, working the pattern by lifting these small bundles in sequence, which had the same effect as tablet weaving.
Oh, and you did notice her elaborately embroidered skirt, didn’t you?
When I showed genuine interest in her work she put it down and showed me one or two other pieces, explaining via Adriana that it took her almost a week to work a length of braid. She had one unfinished length which was very tempting to buy, especially since it still had the bundles in place. But it was really too long to be of practical use, so I settled on another piece. Bearing in mind the time it takes her to work such a piece, her price of 20 soles was very reasonable indeed and having done the deal, she smiled and was happy to pose for a photograph.
Especially when I spotted where she kept her needles!
So, I have a lovely piece of her work to use as a hat band and was delighted with my treasure.
As we walked back to the car, we noted the modern equivalent of the Inca water supply.
Our next – and final – stop was lunch. a little late, but we didn’t mind at all. We were going to another Hacienda and just knew the food was going to be good. We are getting to grips with Peruvian cuisine now!
The hacienda was very special indeed and had wonderful collections of art. Those interested might like to investigate the Cuzco School in order to prepare for a wider investigation later this week. For now though, we were hungry!
I’m sorry, I forgot to take a photo until I’d already started our causa, which you recognised immediately from our cooking lesson, didn’t you? Next came a corn soup, blended with herbs to give it a really authentic flavour, then a plate of grilled pork and mashed potato and finally a chirimoya (custard apple) meringue for me and a lucumas mousse for my hero. Delicious, but oh my, were we stuffed!
So, no dinner for us tonight, but instead, a few hours reading, catching up here and waiting for the hot water bottle man! He’s just been, so it’s goodnight from me and goodnight from him.
Tomorrow, it’s the market at Chinchero and a visit to the weavers there. Coming with us?