Pic of the day 28 – Mask Up!

We took this pic of these masks at the inevitable market near the entrance to the Inca ruins at Ollantaytambo. We’ve seen them for sale elsewhere, and we also saw a few being worn during the Cusco strike. They may have some sort of historical implication, plus this weekend in south America sees the start of Carnaval festival, an indigenous subvert of the start of Lent.

Whatever their origin, they are a colourful improvement on the omnipresent ‘V’ masks seen around Europe, and warmer too.

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Pic of the day 25 – Tourist souvenirs

On Monday 25 February, as well as our excellent Japanese veggie meal, we also spent a quiet hour or so at Cusco’s informative and interesting Regional Historical Museum, in the city centre.

This gives an excellent history about humanity’s arrival in the region from around 5000BC – it’s gradual development and the names of the prominent tribes; the later arrival of the Incas (about 1200AD) and their gradual domination and expropriation of wealth from others; then of course the barbaric arrival and behaviour of the Spanish; right up to the present day. Well worth a visit.

wpid-20140225_182957.jpgAfter we sat in a nearby plaza, and were approached for the umpteenth time by a vendor of souvenirs. For the first time one of us actually bought something – the two items above. They are some sort of decorated gourde, intricately painted by hand. The owl is a sacred creature here and appears in much local mythology and mysticism. The red and black one (we like those colours) shows many animals and images of the region.

But the real reason we bought them was that the vendor was from the Quechua people who lived in a town near Cusco, and we had a chance to chat with her about life and the situation of her people. We conversed mainly in Spanish, and she had a few English phrases, for about 15minutes, and then purchased. Classic sales patter you may think! Maybe.….maybe not? Interesting though to hear her opinions on her peoples current status.