When I was told that I could get one of just about anything at Barratio market on Saturdays in Cusco Peru, I was skeptical. Anything?
Well, just about. Including all kinds of things I never knew I (or anybody else) needed.
This post was originally published in 2014. It has since been updated for accuracy of links and content.
What to Expect at Barratio Market
I was expecting Barratio to be a flea market. But it’s much more than a flea market. For starters, it’s more of a neighbourhood. The maze of streets is crammed with makeshift stalls and setups, with vendors selling anything from new and used clothes and shoes, to electronics, artisan crafts, spare parts, and even severed doll heads.
Yes, severed doll heads.
Here are a few more of the random things I spotted at Barratio market:
“Be Careful in Barratio”
I was well prepared for the fray before I arrived. Absolutely everybody I mentioned Barratio market to immediately told me that it’s rampant with thieves and that I was to be careful with my personal belongings. Best not to bring a purse with you at all, and instead to keep anything valuable tucked away in an inside pocket.
Although I saw no evidence of petty criminals, indeed the crush of people at Barratio market was such that I was glad not to have to worry about my purse. (Incidentally I had my purse stolen in Cusco a few months after the writing of this post, but it wasn’t at Barratio, and it was a learning experience).
But I found more kindness than danger; I went with a friend who brought a backpack that had a broken zipper. She was stopped by good samaritans who said “guarda, guarda” (guard your things), pointing to the open pocket on her backpack.
If you Like Street Food, go to Barratio Hungry
Want a bite to eat? There are people walking around the Barratio market, peddling their home-cooked goods, which are kept warm in their buckets and bags insulated with blankets. Others are set up with large pots on single propane burners and a few plastic stools so you can “relax” and enjoy your food.
It’s simple, but the food is delicious. (See also: Street Food in Peru)
Where is the craziest flea market you’ve been to in the world?