Travel theme: Street Markets

I see that there’s a Travel Challenge this week. The theme is “Street Markets,” of which I’ve visited many on my travels.

Usually I can spend a good deal of time browsing around at all the goods on display, but this one, in La Paz, Bolivia, was so gruesome, that we only stopped long enough to take a photo, before hurrying away. La Paz has a population of over a million people, and at face value, it looks much like any other bustling city, with its high rise buildings, shops and restaurants, but when we stepped into this side street, we came upon El Mercado de las Brujas, which is Spanish for ‘The Witches’ Market’. Witches wearing dark dresses and hats, sell a bizarre assortment of goods there, and one can buy all manner of things, such as dried frogs, which are supposed to bring you wealth, ceramic naked couples to improve your sex life and fertility, Bolivian armadillos which are to put over your door to keep the thieves away, and most bizarre of all, dried llama fetuses, which 99% of Bolivian families are said to put in the foundations of their houses to bring good luck. This was one market which didn’t tempt us to buy souvenirs. 😉

This fruit and vegetable market just outside Cusco in Peru, was very interesting indeed. I saw all manner of fruit and veggies that you don’t get in our shops. Our guide told us that there are 4,000 types of potatoes in South America. We didn’t see that many, but certainly saw quite a lot that we didn’t recognise.

(pic from Google)

Peruvian farmers grow more than 55 varieties of corn, more than anywhere else on earth.This woman had some in every colour: white, yellow, purple, black, red and mixed.

We also found a stall selling many different natural dyes. The Andeans love their brightly coloured fabrics. The favourite colour is red, and the female cochineal beetle, to be found on the prickly pear cactus, is dried and ground down, to be used in the production of red dye. The other dyes are mostly vegetable, made from flowers, moss, tree bark and nut shells etc..

In Quito, Ecuador, we were surprised and horrified to see live guinea pigs for sale in the market, by the sackful!

Gualaceo, about 45 minutes’ drive from Cuenca, is a very traditional town, and here we came upon this 25th of July Market (Mercado 25 de Junio). At the doorway to the market, we saw a woman selling what appeared to be ‘fast food’.

On closer inspection, this is what we saw! It was roast guinea pig and corn take-away!!

Neither hubby nor myself could be persuaded to sample it, even though, I believe it is very low in cholesterol. 😉 I suppose it’s just our Western upbringing which makes us shy away from eating anything cute and cuddly, especially the kids’ household pets. Inside, there were some succulent looking roast pigs on display,

which I might have sampled, except for the fact that we were going out for a really slap-up restaurant meal that evening. We were again offered guinea pig, but opted for something less traditional. For the life of me, I can’t remember what we ate, but it certainly wasn’t anything remotely huggable. 😉

Well, that’s enough pics of South American markets to be going on with. If you want to see what markets other bloggers have been to, just click here.