Saturday, May 27, 2017

Shopping in Cusco

            Shopping in Peru has been one of my favorite parts of my stay here so far. From chompas to chocolate and tea to jewelry and other clothing items, I will be going back to the states with many gifts for family and friends (and myself!). Below I will map out some of my shopping experiences so far.
            Chompa shopping is essential in Peru as of course, alpaca wool items are famous. The first day we arrived here, we were brought to a chompa shop to learn the art of chompa shopping. For example, you know chompa alpaca wool is real and not a scam by feeling the wool with the back of your hand—it should feel a bit cool. Chompas come in all colors, patterns, and styles. There are more traditional designs with alpacas on them or geometric shapes. Popular colors include neutrals, and deep blues and reds. Many chompas are pullovers but there are also zip ups and button downs. It is very easy to get scammed while chompa shopping as there are so many vendors selling this popular item, so I always made sure to go to recommended places. I ended up purchasing several authentic chompas for family and myself as well as other wool items like scarves, socks, and winter headbands.
            I also have purchased a variety of food items to bring back to the states with me. As mentioned in a previous blog post, I have loved the tea selection here and can’t get enough of it.  I found a pack with many different original flavors like coca and anis that I will be bringing back for my family who also love tea. Chocolate was another food item I purchased. After the chocolate making class at Choco Museo, I couldn’t resist bring some back for my family. I decided to stick to really different flavors with origins rooted in Peru like coca.
            Jewelry has also been an interesting point of shopping for me here in Peru. There are a lot of silver rings, bracelets, necklaces, and charms here with bright colored accents. My grandma specifically requested a broach, so after quite the hunt I found a silver one in Cusco with red accents that represents a native Incan cross. In Cusco I also purchased several multi colored beaded necklaces and bracelets after coming across a small, privately owned boutique with items handmade by a Japanese designer who I got to know well after talking to her about her work. Ollantaytambo market had plenty of jewelry as well and there I found a turquoise stoned necklace.
            Finally, headbands are huge here. If you’re picky, you can find really nice hand knit ones with different geometric styles or flowers on them. They are everywhere. Again, it’s important to test for synthetic wool versus real wool for the woven headbands.

            Shopping has taught me a lot about the popular goods in Peru as well as bartering prices and finding the most authentic pieces. I look forward to bringing these items back to the states for myself and friends to help map out all the culture I experienced here!

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