Peru: Cusco – Museo de Coca

This small museum is sort of hidden away in one of the squares away from the Plaza de Armas, but it’s the first and only museum of coca in the country. Coca leaves have been cultivated and consumed in the Andes since prehistoric times and they are chewed pretty much by everybody and coca tea is offered by every cafe, bar, and hotel. The museum is super-informative – starting from the botanical features of coca plant and the chemical composition of them (insane amount of vitamins and minerals!). Then, there are exhibits of ancient sculptures, Inca and pre-Inca, where you can clearly see a smollen cheek with leaves behind it. Once the Spanish conquistadors came, they also embraced the coca – as evidenced by multiple statues of the Virgin Lady of Coca. Next, is the entire history of coca cultivation and application – both in traditional uses and as anesthetic by Europeans and Coca Cola invention by Americans. Finally, a massive section describes cocaine and its production methods – both the Mexican and Colombian variants (1000kg of coca leaves produces only 100g of cocaine and 90% of the resulting drugs are actually added synthetics and chemicals). Then you get a few famous celebrities associated with cocaine – from Amy Whitehouse to Kurt Cobaine to Maradona! And finally, the best part is the museum shop, where you can buy and try coca liquer, coca pisco, coca tea, coca beer, coca powder, and even coca energy drinks!