I spent 6 weeks in Peru walking, eating, getting lost, and meeting hard working women at the mercados of Lima and Cusco. I l o v e mercados because they are wild with life. Stepping into one is like entering another small world with its own rules. If you go to a mercado, simply pay attention to the children sitting next to their working mothers or running among the stands. They know their way. The mercado aisles are mapped on the soles of their feet; the phonetics of haggling wrapped around their tongues; their ears are attuned to the lullaby of cajoling voices merged with songs and chatter.
The best part of mercados is that they expand and grow around you. They react and adjust to the presence of visitors, it welcomes you in. And as you become part of it, your senses will be enhanced and I bet you’ll accept that anything is possible.
I’ll never forget the masses of people in Gamarra on Christmas Eve; the beautiful mantas strapping children to the backs of women in Cusco; the yellow aisles and burning incense on New Years Eve; the time the fire-fighters finally came to save the cat that was stuck in a tree for six days; drinking out of plastic bags; eating on plastic stools facing strangers; and discovering new colorful vegetables, cuy corpses, and llama fetuses.
And I’ll never forget all of the women that made room for me at their stands, who fed me, shared their dreams with me, and taught me the importance of trying again and again, of defining ‘failure’ for myself.
Mercadito de Surquillo ~ Gamarra ~ San Pedro ~El Paraiso ~ San Juan de Miraflores ~ Pisac ~ El Baratillo ~ Feria Ecologica de Barranco ~ Mercado Surquillo N.1