You see, in Peru, you don't go to any old hardware store and buy a tarp. Things are much more specialized here. In Peru, you have to go to a Plastiqueria. Not knowing this, we asked around with little luck, until we spotted a street vendor with a tarp over his goods. We asked him where we could buy one, and he pointed us towards Mercado San Blas. From here on out it was tarps, tarps, everywhere, but not a piece to buy. We asked vendor after vendor, got conflicting directions, and finally made our way to Mercado Wancha. There, amongst a maze of sandals and fruit, we found the plastiqueria. I imagine it as a wonderous place, full of plastics of all shapes and sizes, but all I remember is one 3x3 meter piece of beautiful blue that we got, after all of the trouble of finding it, for about $4.
Tarp in hand, we gathered together our unnecessary baggage and headed to the post office. Our tent, my juggling balls, and my steripen (no sense carrying two water purifiers) went into a box barely large enough for the tent alone. After cramming it all in, our very helpful attendant proceeded to wrap it with about half of a roll of packing tape:
Now that all of the time-sensitive tasks were complete, we set about some relaxation. We found some cord for the tarp and a rain cover for my pack (which proved to be absolutely essential), had dinner, stopped by the coca shop for some tea and a rather nice conversation with the lovely polyglot who runs the place, and, on a coca-induced spree, spent an hour in an internet cafe, writing collectively 12 emails and 3 blog posts. We went back to the hostel, cut the tarp to size, and went to bed. Not bad for a day in which we also bought groceries and medicine, went book shopping, spent 10 minutes on a see-saw, and petted a baby alpaca: