¡Vamos de compras! 


July 11, 2017 by jiejie768

Locals gather on the steps leading to the market’s entrance to chat and ply their wares.

Shopping in Ayacucho is a many-splendored thing. Wandering through the open-air market is a great way to experience Andean culture first-hand. There is a really good chance that this post is redundant of one we did in our first trip, but as we have new readers and that was more than 4 years ago, I figured I’d take another crack at it. I plan to mostly let the pictures do the talking.

Local women use a single blanket, expertly-tied, to secure their little ones to their back.

American men use mantas tramposas (cheater blankets) to keep Coles secure during outings to the market. The local women find this equal parts adorable and hilarious.

Upon entering the market you have a couple choices: turn left for tourist goods (hats, weavings, clay houses, etc.), or turn right for bread and fruit. On this day our mission was food-centric. 

A vendor bags some cucumber and tomato for Meg.

Meg tries, to no avail, to bargain down the price of palta (avocado), she ended up paying the full price of (gasp!) 1 sol apiece (about 30 cents, US).

Every region of Peru has a signature type of bread. In Ayacucho it’s “pan chapla”, a pita-like pocket bread that is great for sandwiches. Whenever one leaves Ayacucho (be it by plane or bus) you’re sure to see locals traveling with bags full of chapla to take to relatives in other regions.

Meg acquires bread for our sandwiches. This lovely woman included an extra, small pan chapla as a “yapa” — a kind of bonus for being a good customer.

Beyond the bread and veggies, one will encounter the “sección de carne” (meat section), which, as you can see above, is basically an open-air butcher shop with carts full of meat hanging for shoppers to peruse. 

Kachipa (kah-chee-pah) is a local cheese that is sold everywhere. It’s delicious, but a bit salty for my taste when eaten on its own.

As I mentioned, the market also features a souvenir section where travelers can shop for any number of traditional Andean keepsakes. My favorites are the chullos (“chew-yos”), the colorful ear-flap hats made of alpaca wool and the casitas, or miniature houses made of clay. Meg is partial to the retablos (“ray-ta-blows”), which are wooden cabinets painted in bright colors and depict various scenes relating to local culture and religion. Both the retablos and casitas can be found all over Peru, but the tradition originates from the mountain villages outside Ayacucho. 

An image of a saint watches over the market with several spots for shoppers to light a candle in her honor.

This historical photo shows what Ayachucho’s central market looked like in 1906. As best as I can tell, at that time vendors set up shop in the town’s central plaza in front of the cathedral. Today, the market is housed in a building about two blocks down the road from the Plaza Mayor.

Once one leaves the market-proper, there are still plenty of opportunities to buy as nearly every street in the centro is lined with carts and vendors offering everything from knick-knacks to food to kitchen supplies and more. 

Of course, if you’re looking for a more US-style shopping experience there are a handful of grocery stores around Ayacucho that offer a more traditional (to us) array of packaged foodstuffs. Just know that if you only shop here you’ll be paying more and missing out on a major piece of life in Ayacucho. 


One thought on “¡Vamos de compras! 

  1. Chip says:

    Those chickens look scary :0). But yummy yummy bread. Someday I will eat in Peru :0)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: