Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Cusco: Listen to the Music

Elias, my Peruvian dad, makes and sells musical instruments for a living. He also plays the instruments. He also rents rooms out to gringos. His expertise is traditional Inca instruments. Namely charangos (small ten-stringed guitars), quenas (flutes), and pan pipes.



Pan Pipes:

Elias playing the charango and pan pipes at the same time:

Elias's most time-consuming and impressive work can be seen in the process of making a charango. It begins with a block of wood like this one:

Elias then shapes the wood until it looks like this:

...hollows out the middle with a hammer and chisel:

...sands it:

...paints or burns it:

(I wish I would have been this productive with my wood-burning kit back in the day.)

...lacquers it:

(I didn't have a gas mask!)

...strings it:

...& there you have it. A finished charango:

Elias then takes to the streets of Cusco to sell his work. Tourists are his main customers, and this year has been a tough one for sales due to weather issues as well as an abundance of tight-wads. His instruments are a hell of a bargain, though.

Prices for Elias's hand-made instruments:
Charango: 320-450 soles (depending whether it's carved, painted, etc.)
Quena: 120 soles
Pan pipes: 60-70 soles

1 U.S. dollar = 2.89 soles... I'll let you do the math.

If you are interested in purchasing an instrument, contact me at (asap; I'm leaving Cusco soon!)

Note: shipping may be upwards of 100 soles; I'll look into it.

Another Note: Elias thinks I'm pretty cool so I can probably get you a discount.

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