Wednesday, May 25, 2016

100% Baby Alpaca - Hand Made

As we walk through the streets of Cuzco, we are immediately targeted as foreigners. As such, the locals are constantly badgering us to look around their shops, buy their paintings, or get a massage (which I learned usually comes with a “happy ending”). Many of them even have learned a few phrases in English to get our attention (“Mister, please take a look” or “Take picture with llama, miss?”). Although I usually ignore them, there have been times when I would like to shop around for typical tourist souvenirs and such. One night, a few others and I went to look around with Profe for some decently priced real alpaca products. As we started looking around, it amazed me how many of the owners of the products would claim their hats/scarves/etc. as pure alpaca. Profe, with his superior knowledge of animals from the Camelidae family, was quick to point out that the majority of these products were a mixture of alpaca and synthetic material or it was not alpaca at all. Of course, as he told us this he would speak to us in English so the shop owners wouldn’t know that he was revealing their secrets. However, we came across a small shop where we found a truly honest and knowledgeable salesman. He was up front about the nature of all of his products, and even showed us how to tell if something is real alpaca! (It stays cool to the touch, and after touching it you can feel the residue on your fingers when you rub them together). He also explained that many products with intricate designs and colors are often not pure alpaca, as the real stuff doesn’t allow for that. It was so refreshing to meet a store owner who really cared about his products and his customers, and took the time to talk with us and explain instead of just persuading and begging us to buy his products. It was a great experience, and I got a cute 100% baby alpaca hat out of it for only 45 soles J

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