Trip Start May 03, 2011
23Trip End Mar 22, 2012
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Then back to the daily routine of Spanish lessons, although Cuzco has been far from routine. June is fiesta season and just about everyday there are children (from tiny up to university) filling the streets and dancing their traditional dances in the Plaza. When they are not dancing they are rehearsing on every available part of the plaza, "no room to run" commented Cliff this morning, so he ran up the hill instead.
The culmination is next week with Corpus Christi celebrations on the 23rd, Inti Raymi on the 24th (ancient Inca festival for the winter solstice) and all sorts of festivities in between
First though, a beautiful walk through the countryside to unique set of Inca terraces at Moray. Plenty of theories abound, but the essence is a series of traditional terraces, but forming a perfect circle. To get up or down the terraces you have to negotiate stone steps which are giant strides apart, excellent exercise. After the terraces we walked over the mountain past the salt pans of Salinas (see previous blog) and down into the Urubamba valley where we caught a minibus to Ollantaytambo.
We just about timed it right, arriving as the action hotted up. The fiesta is a sort of Quechuan take on a Catholic tradition, where a huge wooden cross is carried (so heavy it takes about 8 men) from one church to another to be blessed and then back again. Sounds fairly straightforward, but accompanying the cross are 15 different groups (villages?) following, each with their own trio of musicians. We watched the procession to the second church and then went to get something to eat. As we finished and came out, the procession was emerging from the church to make its way back through the streets
..and then suddenly, in the churchyard the fireworks started, with the watchers barely feet away. We sheltered hopefully under a thatched roof while the fireworks exploded above, around and in between us, at one point flames fell just missing our heads - we were laughing with the danger of it... but also mesmerised. Certainly a participatory display and the atmosphere was electric!
The following day, the procession was repeated, and then the dancing began. Each group having 15 minutes to strut their stuff. My favourite was the group of "shepherds" who (and I wish I knew the story) had symbolic llamas hung from their backs and performed a very lively and agressive dance with whips... even the pequenos (little boys of 2 or 3) took their turn. Great fun.
So, not sure what Cuzco will offer up, but it will have to be good to top that!