Peru- The art of bartering…. that fine line


One of the things we learned throughout our trip to South America was that there was a fine line in the art of bartering.

It’s expected, it’s part of the whole travel experience, we experienced it in Chile, and now we were playing the game in Peru (and we had no doubt that we would experience it in Mexico later)… but with the game came responsibility.

We learned throughout our trip was that there WAS a fine line that dictated where the fun stopped, were the “we’re getting a bargain” stopped and and the “you’re taking advantage”, and “these people are poor and we shouldn’t keep playing” started.

The restuarants and markets were open for many many hours, the shop keepers sitting there all day long, hoping for sales, their children playing beside them all day too ( no nannies at home while mum goes off to work here).

Many small shops filled with souvenirs, as well as beautiful higher-quality wares were situated right beside our hotel, so every morning and every evening we played the game.

A small family owned business, filled with stunning alpaca hand made garments and wall hangings was literally next door. On our first day in Aguas Callintes we bought the most beautiful alpaca cardigan for myself from this store, while Michael eyed off a stunning handmade wall hanging ( made by the owner’s elderly mother).

Each morning as we passed the owner we played the game….. each afternoon and each evening, as we passed the store, we offered a little less than the asking price and we waited for him to drop his price to match us, knowing that he was playing the game too

He continued to say that his mother had spent many hours creating the wall hanging and that she would kill him if he sold it to short….

Her creation was in a style reminiscent of the great Peruvian artist  Máximo Laura Taboada (whose stunning creations can be seen at

We weren’t able to photograph the piece, but it was in the same style as these from maximo below

Michael loved the hand woven pieces and we believed that on the last day of our trip here in this lovely little town, that we would finish playing the game, we didn’t want to break the man, we really wanted to purchase a stunning keepsake for our new home.

Unfortunately, on our last day at Aguas Callientes we passed the shop only to find it shut and our game abruptly ended without the keepsake that we so wanted.

It would only be later that we found out the owner’s mum’s original piece with the original shop price WAS the bargain of the trip and try as we did, visiting shop after shop back in Cusco, finding lots of lesser quality wall rugs or Maximo originals with a HUGE price tags to match that we simply couldn’t justify spending, we ended up coming home without an original wall rug and a slightly disappointed hubby, who still hadn’t purchased a single thing while overseas (while i had purchased MANY things for myself and my family and friends.)



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