Corpus Christi in Cusco

I set off this morning to go to Tipon. However, there was far too much happening in town for me to proceed with my intentions and I spent the day observing the celebrations for Corpus Christi instead. I had understood that the major event was tomorrow but I was obviously wrong.

Dancers in the middle of the food stalls
Dancers in the middle of the food stalls

In San Francisco Plaza, covered tables had been set up in rows and ladies on every stand produced exactly the same plate of food for exactly the same price of 22 soles. As I found out later when I tried a plate (for I really could not not try it!), it comprised guinea pig, chicken, a fried cornbread, seaweed, sausage and some sort of fish roe. There must have been some significance in the specific food but I have no idea what. There were so many stalls that it was hard to select one and I noticed that a lot of the cooks were offering samples of the bread so maybe that was a critical factor. One man also told me that the state of the guinea pig’s skin gave a good indication of whether it was going to be well cooked or not. (Needless to say, I couldn’t tell!)

Corpus Christi lunch!
Corpus Christi lunch!
Roasted guinea pig and chicken
Roasted guinea pig and chicken

The plate of food was interesting but I don’t think I would be rushing to have it again. The chicken was excellent and the guinea pig did not have an overpowering taste, but the rest of it was either tasteless (seaweed), too greasy (corn bread) or totally unappealing (fish roe). I washed it down with a beer but mistakenly ordered a brown beer instead of light so even that was a bit of a struggle to drink. However, I was able to sit for an hour and observe the crowds, which is always entertaining.

One of the tables used to rest the Saints
One of the tables used to rest the Saints

The main event seemed to be a continuous parade of saints, who were mounted on platforms and were carried firstly into the Santa Clara church and later into the Cathedral in Plaza de Armas. Many of the statues were extremely heavy, judging by the sight of the men straining to carry them, and these ones were preceded by tables so that the men could rest the statues occasionally. Each Saint was accompanied by it own brass band, so the noise was phenomenal, as they were all playing within 50-100 metres of each other and all, of course, were blasting forth different tunes.

One of the many groups in the procession
One of the many groups in the procession

There was a huge variety of local costumes to view and each region or town must have arrived with their own particular Saint. It was all very colourful.

Later in the afternoon, I made my daily visit to the Cappuccino Cafe in the Plaza from where I was able to watch the parade of Saints continuing. On my way back to my room, I passed several areas where the party was continuing, with much beer being consumed! It is obviously a very festive occasion.

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