Cusco Festival

Getting ready for the festivities
Getting ready for the festivities

My intention today was to go to Pisac and then on to Calca, where I had arranged to have a ‘reading’ with Laura, who is obviously many talented! However, the best laid plans of mice and men……… Whilst I was finishing my breakfast, one of the ladies who runs the hostel asked me what I was doing today as there was a big procession, starting now. (It was then just after 9am.) This, then, would explain why I could hear all the noise from the loudspeakers once again.

A very large Andean flag
A very large Andean flag

I got ready and made my way to the Plaza, where there were already thousands of people congregating. Having determined that the procession was going all the way round, I made my way to the stand on the far side, which seemed a lot emptier, at that stage, than the one on the side that I had sat before to watch the dancing. The central one was already full. I found a slightly precarious perch on the top of the stand, which, of course, had no back barrier, there being no health and safety standards here!

The procession started at 10am and I decided I had to leave at 12. It was still going on. Every community and dance group was represented, so there was a vast array of costumes and colour and the noise was phenomenal. As per usual, every group had its own band, all playing their own tunes. Add the loudspeakers to this, and it was deafening, but also spectacular. I don’t know how much longer it went on for but it showed no signs of finishing after 2 hours.

Negotiating my way off the stand was somewhat tricky, as it had now filled up. Even so, there were vendors working their way amongst the people selling hats, ice creams, drinks (water or gaseoso, meaning Inka Cola or some such fizzy drink) and other food. For me, however, there appeared to be no way through. Luckily, one man ended up offering me a hand, so that I could step down without injuring myself, the baby lying across the bench or standing on someone.

I had to make my way to the collectivo station but first had to have a coffee. Needless to say, I am now recognised in the cafe, having been there every day. I do try to make it a different time each day though. I would hate to become a creature of habit!

I didn’t have time to stop at Pisac after this so went straight to Calca, where I had a little difficulty, initially, finding the house. The directions I had been given were ‘from David’s house’ (which is where I had been staying), ‘look for the red and green hereria sign on the right and turn left. Walk along until you see a school, go to the end of the building and turn right. The house is about the third one along’. Simple! Except that I walked past the ‘hereria’ sign about 3 times before I spotted it. It wasn’t quite as large as I had anticipated and not on a corner, where I thought it was going to be. I found the street, but which house was it? Luckily, Laura, anticipating that I might have problems, emerged just as I was contemplating what to do.

View of Ausangate Mountain
View of Ausangate Mountain

Having spent much longer talking to her than I anticipated, my journey back to Cusco was in the dark. Thankfully, the collectivo driver wasn’t one of those that wouldn’t start without a full van, so we set off not long after I boarded, even though there were only about 3 of us in it. However, it filled up at Pisac, so all was well, and we arrived back in the city just after 6pm.

Walking from the collectivo station, I had to go up Avenida del Sol, which was absolutely jam packed with people. The festival was obviously still in progress! There were food stalls everywhere, so I took advantage and bought an ‘anticuccho’, which is liver kebab and far more tasty than it sounds. I then fought my way through the crowds to get back to the hostel. At one point, I was being pushed strongly from behind, which is something I dislike and also makes me a little fearful. There were so many people that I couldn’t have gone further or faster anyway.

Having bought a chicken kebab to supplement my already devoured liver kebab, I was thankful to arrive ‘home’. Whilst I feel that I am missing out a little on the festivities, I also do not like being in such large crowds, especially as Peruvians seem to have no compunction about pushing and shoving when they can’t get through.

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