The morning after our wonderful dinner, we were scheduled to leave Cusco for Lima. Our flight was at noon on a Star Peru "Boing" 737. Since we still had time before Oscar was scheduled to pick us up, we decided to walk on over to the Mercado de Wanchaq. During the previous afternoon we were searching for flowers to bring to dinner. The really helpful Bellhop recommended a stop at the local Mercado right down the street.(Thanks Erick!) We rushed in, and managed to get a decent bouquet....we really didn't notice until we were walking out of market, how much we stood out! Even though we saw a few other tourists at Mercado Central, this vibrant and busy Mercado seemed totally local.
Though smaller than Mercado Central, this market had a real community feel to it. We had arrived just as business was starting to pick up, by the time we left, the isles were buzzing.....
Along with the vast amount of produce, there were 2 barber shops, a few lower stands, a section for fresh seafood:
Meat and Poultry
I found this stand with prepared sauces and marinades to be interesting....
The hardware section! I was surprised at the comprehensive selection. Everything from chain link and rope, to drills, to toilet plungers at this little stand. Home Depot ain't got nothin' on this place.
And of course the food stalls.
But the Missus was after something a bit different. Unfortunately, Her craving for Choclo(Corn on the cob) was left unfulfilled as all the vendors were just getting the water started, and the corn wouldn't be ready for a few hours.
Well, at least we have a reason to return to Cusco! The Missus than turned Her attention to these:
These are called Pepino (cucumber melon), and large stacks of them were featured at every produce stand in the market. The vendor helped the Missus pick one out, and we walked it back to the hotel. This was breakfast for the Missus.
So while everyone was having croissants and muffins, the Missus had Her Pepino. I thought the flavor to be much like honeydew melon, maybe a bit milder. The texture was like very ripe cantaloupe, not too crisp, but with a little "give". I also thought the melon had a weird aftertaste that I really didn't enjoy, but the Missus loved it.
After breakfast we finished packing and checked out at the hotel. Soon enough Oscar picked us up and drove us to the airport. Oscar even brought his wife along to meet us! It was a wonderful little drive to the airport, full of anecdotes and laughter. We realized something, Cusco had grown on us, and the proud, generous, and warm hearted people had as well. Usually, when on vacation, after the third day or so, the Missus and I are ready to leave and move on, but for the very first time, we wanted more time in a city. We told Oscar that we'd probably be returning in 2009....I had an added incentive as well. Oscar promised me a list of the best local restaurants, and what they specialize in, on my next visit, so you know I have to come back!
El Puma Hotel:
We spent our last night in Cusco at the El Puma Hotel. This was a pretty modern, and new hotel, and was a big change from the quaint Hotel Rumi Punku. El Puma was also located in a busy area, just one block from Avenida del Sol, Cusco's main drag.
The rooms looked modern, though with the same type of "central heating". A couple of funny things associated with El Puma occurred as well. As you can see, the entrance of El Puma has very modern looking "sliding doors".....well, I guess in my Americanized mind, sliding doors are "automatic doors", that slide open when you approach. These are literally sliding doors, that you slide open.....which I walked into as I tried to enter hotel!
I also mentioned that the El Puma was fairly new....in fact we found that most taxi drivers had no idea where El Puma was! Luckily, the Missus had the foresight to grab one of the hotel pens(see, I told you it was modern!) with the address on it - Garcilaso 320. We soon found out that there are two streets named Garcilaso in Cusco. In fact, our driver on the return trip from Mercado Central, insisted that we had arrived at our destination, Garcilaso 320.......only thing was, this Garcilaso 320 was a Auto Parts store! Even though the pen we showed him said EL PUMA HOTEL, I guess we must have looked like we were staying at an auto parts store.......