As we leave Sacsayhuaman we pass vendors along the side of the road. They are selling prosaic items: a few cheap souvenirs, bottled water, juice, snacks, and rain ponchos.
We are headed to a much larger retail enterprise, a “knitting factory.”
It begins pouring just before our bus pulls up beside a cluster of unremarkable single story adobe buildings. From the outside this could be a residential compound. Alpaca hug the wall under the eaves, leaving us to enter the building through the driving rain.
Once inside, we enter a large open room and then are herded together between aisles stacked high with sweaters. It has the feel of a Sam’s Club for Ecuadorian knitting.
We are given a chance to feel the difference between the fibers we are likely to encounter in Peru – baby alpaca, alpaca, sheep’s wool, cotton, llama, and synthetics (“maybe alpaca”).
This is actually interesting (I sew and knit) and I am surprised to find that I can feel a difference even between the alpaca and baby alpaca. The baby alpaca feels a lot like silk, but without silk’s sheen.
The rest of the stop is a too-long shopping excursion. The prices here are high and I hate haggling inside places that seem like “real” stores. (In an out-door market and I’m happy to haggle, but inside a shop – ugh!) This place feels like a rip-off, but we are there long enough that I end up spending too much money anyway.
When I escape outside the downpour has stopped.
The air, cleansed by the rain, is clear and crisp, saturating the colors of the green hillsides and red adobe homes and business that line this rural road.