Cajamarca has one shopping center and, obviously, the city is very proud of it. ‘Quinde’ was constructed maybe 5 years ago, before that the only possibility to shop was on a street market. Now, one has a choice – the old-fashioned mercado or the kingdom of consumption.
In reality ‘Quinde’ is nothing special, a poor imitation of the western paradise that so many here wish for. A huge supermarket, several fashion and shoe shops, a shopping center with perfumes of Channel and Tommy Hilfiger clothes, a cinema showing crappy mainstream movies and a couple of fast food chains. But you enter and suddenly the world changes: outside an old grandma in a sombrero sells fried potato from her street food stand; inside a lady in Levi’s jeans happily eats her slice of pizza in Pizza Hut. People who shop in ‘Quinde’ carry heavy bags and their faces show this characteristic look of a happy customer who just spent a lot of money.
I rarely enter ‘Quinde’, only if I need the ‘luxury products’ like coffee or wine. Otherwise I do grocery shopping on the market. Apart from the simple fact that vegetables, fruits, fish are better, cheaper and do not live in a plastic bag, it is such a great place to observe Peruvian culture alive. Mercado is often loud, sometimes chaotic and annoying, but always fascinating. Ladies smile while serving customers, chat a while about weather or everyday life, tell jokes and nicely try to convince you to buy more vegetables for the soup.
In Cajamarca mercado occupies a large part of the city. The number of shop seems to be never-ending. The streets have their specialties: food, cheese, the world of plastic, kitchen plates and ovens, electricity, cloths.. Apart from that, many poor cajamarquinas put their goods directly on the pavement: a couple of tomatoes, several onions and potatoes some season fruits. And somehow they manage to make their living out of this..
It is the world that in Germany already died long time ago; in Poland is slowly getting extinct. But in Peru it is still strong, and no Quinde is going to change it any soon.