Cusco Local Custom Tips by AKtravelers Top 5 Page for this destination
Cusco Local Customs: 48 reviews and 72 photos
A mother in child shop at the Pisac food market
In the Sacred Valley, it is very common to see women carrying their young children on their back, wrapped in a colorful shawl. It seems that children are never far from their mothers in this area of Peru. The amazing thing is that, for all the many children we saw, we only heard one cry -- the child of our horse guide's aunt. It must be a great way to build the mother-child bond.
The trinity depicted outside a church in Maras
One of the more fascinating subjects for me to read about is how Christianity has adapted to local indigenous customs wherever it has spread. While this started as early as the Romans (placing Christmas near Saturnalia and adopting many of its customs) it continued with the Spanish as they conquered Latin America. This blending is most obvious when one observes the painitings of the Cusco School, but it is also evident in more everyday art. A perfect example is this depiction of the trinity concept outside a church im Maras. Unlike traditional Catholic depiction, this shows three similar Christ-like figures. This is typical of the Cusco School and not an aberration. It was just the Inca's way of understanding what must have been a difficult concept to assimilate.
THe hardened feet of Juan Carlos
One of the more amazing thing about our horseback ride through the Sacrd Valley was the paltry footwear sported by our guide, Juan Carlos. In the U.S., serious horse riders wear serious footwear -- cowboy boots for western or fancier boots for English style (pardon my horse fashion ignorance here). But Juan Carlos wore only sandals -- and his caloused feet reveal that this was normal for him. I explained to him that he must be tougher than an American cowboy for doing it this way, but I'm not sure my broken Spanish translated well.
Putting on a shawl at the Pisac Farmer's Market
The Sacred Valley of Peru is one of the few places I have been (outside of the Islamic World) where a large number of people have resisted western fashion. Here, many Peruvian women still wear sweaters madefrom alpaca and hats that most Americans would find to be very masculine. Furthermore, almost all the women wear their hair long and in braids. One of the best places to see women so beautifully attired is the Pisac Farmer's Market, which is held every Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday.
You will notice a pronounced generation gap when it comes to such clothing. The younger generation, exposed to the internet and television, has not adopted these clothing styles. It makes us wonder if women dressed like this will be with us in 30 years. Or, if they are, will they be asking for money to take their pictures like the girls described in our Tourist Trap Tip.
Trying futily to eat cuy with manners
Guinea pig (Cuy in Spanish) has been a delicay in the Andes for over a thousand years. In fact, it is so highly regarded as a food that Cusco painters included cuy at the Last Supper in the large canvas of the event hanging in the Cathedral (see "The Must-See section). So, if you are an adventurous eater, it's something you just have to try the cuy -- preferably right before a Cathedral visit!
Sarah and I ate our cuy at the Inka Grill on Plaza de Armas. So, unlike some photos we've seen, our plate of did not come whole with teeth and a head (too bad) but came in parts as if we had gone to Kentucky Fried Cuy (though it was baked). It also comes with finger bowls, as you are expected to eat it with your hands. I tried to be more civilized about it, but my fork and knife proved to be ineffective weapons against the tough, sinewy flesh, so after cutting off a few tiny pieces, I dropped my utensils and started gnawing away. It tasted okay and, possibly because of its chewiness, it proved very filling. Neither Sarah nor I were hungry until 8 p.m.
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