Friday, December 10, 2010

Chinchero, Salinas de Maras

After our return to Cusco from Machu Picchu, we had another big day exploring the environs around Cusco.  Sunday morning started with me buying the hat off the head of the guy on the right.  The men knit hats called "chollos".  The designs are very intricate, and they are knit without a pattern!  You see men standing around knitting, not even looking at what they are doing.  Later on, when we visited Lake Titicaca, our guide told us that single women have a test to see if a man will be a good husband.  They put water in a hat that the man has knitted.  If the water runs through too quickly, he hasn't knit the hat tight enough.  He might be lazy and would not make a good husband.  (Oh, if it were that simple!)

Here's the hat I bought from the talented man on the right in the photo above.

Later, I bought this antique hat at the market across from the hotel.

We took the bus to Chinchero.  Our guide took us to a fantastic weaving co-op, Centro de Tejedoras Chinchero.  This was probably the highlight of the co-ops we visited.  The women demonstrated all steps of the spinning, dyeing, and weaving processes.  And then there was a wonderful market and gift shop.

This woman wove the piece below which I bought.

I also bought this piece woven by another artist.

There was a small museum at the co-op.  Here are three "quilts" they had on display there.

After our informative visit at the co-op, we headed for the Chinchero market.  This was a regional market with a mix of handcrafted items and textiles, tourist souvenir items, produce, and flowers.

Next stop was the Moray archaeological site.  This is believed to be an Inca agricultural experimental station.  The site was watered by a complex irrigation system, and traces of about 250 cereals and vegetables have been found.

These vendors are set up just outside the site.  Not a big day for shoppers, but the scenery can't be beat.

After lunch we went on to visit the salt mines at Salinas de Maras, where naturally salty water is channeled into 3,000 man-made wells and left to evaporate in the sun.

There is a picturesque chapel at the overlook to the mines.

We headed back for our last night in Cusco.

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