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Baratillo: Cusco’s Weekly Flea Market

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Are you looking for rare texts about Pre-Inca cultures that you can’t seem to find anywhere in Cusco? Do you want to watch a luthier make you a guitar? Are you wondering where you can go in Cusco to find the widest selection of chicha? Looking for some rusty spare engine parts? Then come to Baratillo.

Photo: Scott Montgomery

What is Baratillo?

Baratillo is Cusco’s weekly happening flea market. If you’re spending time in Cusco, and have some free time on a Saturday, then I recommend that you go to Baratillo.

Getting ready to go to the market

The market isn’t as dangerous as some people say

One of the things that I always hear is that Baratillo is the best place in Cusco to get robbed.

After making no less than 20 trips to the market during the last several years, only once has somebody tried to rob me. But he was was a clumsy pick-pocketer, and I could instantly tell what he was trying to do. Yes, theives sometimes lurk through the market, just as they do in any crowded market in South America.

My advice is to not bring valuables that you don’t need, and to keep your money in a safe place. If you need to, strap your backpack to your chest. And be vigilant.

Do you want the good deals? Then come early

It’s a little-known fact that there are actually two different Baratillos: the super-early pre-dawn one, and the one that happens during the day. If you can make it before 4 am, you’ll be on time for the start of Baratillo. 

Most early vendors come from villages outside of Cusco to sell their textiles and other handmade items. If you want to find a good deal, then this is the best time to go. By sunrise, most of the early vendors are already gone, having sold their market spaces to other vendors who come later in the day.

 

Things you’ll find at the market

Used and vintage clothing

Photo: (wikipedia)

You’ll find brand new mass-produced clothing from China, old and new shoes, hats, jackets, backpacks. Most of the new clothing will cost you a fraction of what you would pay if you bought it from a store in Cusco.

There are also several multi-floored warehouses where vendors set up tarps that are piled with waist-high mounds of used clothes. Most of the garments will cost less than three dollars.

Vintage textiles

Photo: Scott Montgomery

If you want to invest in something that is rich in history, then this is a good place to go.

There are two entire streets of the market dedicated exclusively to textiles.

You’ll find a wide variety of garments, from handmade and naturally died clothing, to machine made synthetic sweaters. If you are not experienced at telling the differences between high-quality and low-quality textiles, bring a knowledgeable friend if you can.

 

Rare handmade instruments.

Photo: Scott Montgomery

Check out Bellavista Street if you’re wondering where Cusco’s best luthiers are located. There are about 15 different shops on this street where you can buy instruments of all shapes and sizes. If you are going to get an instrument in Cusco, these are the best kinds of places to buy one.

Photo: Scott Montgomery

You’ll know where the artisanal luthiers are when you walk into their shops. You’ll be greeted by wood shavings and mounds of instruments in various stages of creation. Most luthiers in Cusco specialize in making charangos, bandurias, recintos, harps, manodlines, and drums.

Sacred Inca and pre-Inca objects

Photo: Scott Montgomery

You’ll find llama bone and condor bone flutes, ceremonial gords, ceramics, healing stones, rare seashells, and old coins. You can make these sorts of finds all over the market, but most are located in the market’s textile section.

Varieties of street food

Photo: Scott Montgomery

Baratillo is the best place in Cusco to go if you want to try unique street foods. You’ll find more than 10 types of chicha, tamales, ceviche, assortments of fried meats, churros and all kinds of sweets.

 

Rare Andean texts: get yourself some wisdom (mostly in Spanish)

Photo: Scott Montgomery

There are several vendors at the market who sell rare texts that explore the cultural and spiritual history of Peru.

Unfortunately, many of these books are illegally photocopied, so use your discretion.

Black-market electronics: If you get robbed in Cusco, come here to find your stuff.

When people in Cusco get something stolen, it’s a good bet that your things will make their way through Baratillo. That’s why locals who get robbed know to scour the market in hopes of recovering their stuff.

We recommend that you stay away from used electronics so that you’re not supporting theives. It’s not to say that all used electronics come from the black market, but it is a possibility.

 

how to get to Baratillo

The market is located on Prolongación Pera street, along Ejercito Ave, and near the Santiago Bridge,

 

 

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Scott Montgomery is a multi-medium storyteller and holistic creative, a travel guide and transformational coach, whose core mission is to help others to live authentically with purpose and intention in order to make an impact in the world. After earning his masters degree in creative writing at Arizona State University in 2013, he made the move to Peru in order to write about indigenous communities of the jungles and the Andes, and to explore what this might have to do with his own life path. These years of traveling and living across the country have helped him to embrace a more purposeful lifestyle that's guided by the values of collaboration, creativity, and transformation. To find out more about what Scott's up to and how you can get involved, visit his personal website www.voyagewithscott.com