Photo: Mariano Mantel
If you’re in Peru for the holidays, while the lack of snow may not have it feeling like a magical winter wonderland (technically it’s summer there), Santuranticuy is one surefire way to get in the spirit. A Christmas market held in Cusco on December 24, the fair is the perfect hybrid of Andean culture and local traditions. Translating to “Saints for Sale,” artisans from all over the region gather to sell art, musical instruments, and food to eager customers looking to add some flair to their holiday celebrations. Come with me as we explore Santuranticuy and the Peruvian version of Christmas.
The Argentine gaucho—often compared to the American cowboy—is a legendary figure revered as a national hero, a rebel and a symbol of freedom. For over three centuries, guachos have roamed Argentina’s grassy Pampas unbounded by geography and authority. Celebrated for their self-reliance and expert horsemanship, gauchos are masters at taming wild stallions, which they use to drive their herds of cattle across unchartered frontiers.
In 1817, gauchos earned their respected place in history when Argentine General Jose de San Martin called upon them to join his Army of the Andes, a calvary of 3,500 men that famously crossed the Andes to successfully defeat their Spanish foe and eventually liberate Chile, Argentina and Peru from Spanish colonial rule.
One of the most beautiful aspects of the Ecuadorian Andes is the diversity of crops grown throughout its valleys and terraced hills. These spectacular ‘patchwork’ landscapes, which are astoundingly beautiful themselves, offer small-scale farmers a seemingly endless variety of culinary treasures.
This is just my humble intent of trying to single out the best mountain haciendas in the country, which is not an easy task. There are just too many high-quality accommodations in rural Ecuador to name such a few. Haciendas, colonial estates that would also flourish during the early Republican era in Ecuador, were basically enormous farms owned by wealthy families. As the industrial revolution helped create modern cities and left agricultural livelihoods behind, many of these haciendas lost their purpose; today, some have become first-rate tourism ventures instead, beautiful places to stay with excellent accommodations, reflecting a deep history and offering dreamy Andean landscapes to savor.