Day 172 – Cusco, PA

Day 172 – Cusco, PA      02/09/11       Mileage: 0

I spent most of the morning updating the blog and catching up on email. After that I spent the afternoon walking around the areas of central Cusco I haven’t yet been to and took care of some errands.

The Plaza de Armas…while it’s not raining. A rarity for this time of year….

More famed Inca stone work. This wall collapsed in an earthquake and had to be rebuilt, but is a good example of their curved stone.

At 3 I met Danielle who I had met 2 days earlier in a coffee shop and had a nice conversation with. She’s from Holland and is here living in Cusco volunteering for a Dutch aid program that teaches women weaving and silver craft skills and promotes fair-trade and prices for their work. She had offered to show me the workshop high on the hill above Cusco where the local women learn and practice their craft, so that sounded like an experience too good to pass up.

We jumped in a collectivo (a small local bus) up to the workshop where I got to meet the teachers and a few of the women in the program. I watched them making silver jewelry and weaving blankets and pillows on wooden looms and the amount of work that goes into these crafts is enormous.

Here they are making silver jewelry…

A simple white alpaca wool pillowcase takes 14 hours of work, while a blanket with an intricate design can take weeks! It certainly makes you appreciate the amount of work that goes into even a seemingly simple craft. Back in town we went to the shop were the crafts are sold which is also a nice café. The idea is that the café pays the bills and covers the expenses for the shop so that the bulk of the proceeds (90%) from the craft sales goes back to the women artists. We had a light dinner at the café and I had alpaca carpaccio (yes, raw alpaca) which was very good…and no it doesn’t taste anything like chicken…  😉

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