Archive for June, 2012
Get ready to string up your red and white streamers and don your Peruvian flag pin! One of Peru’s largest celebrations of the year is Independence Days, celebrated the 28th and 29th of each July. The atmosphere is festive, with red and white decorations appear throughout the streets, and many Peruvians take advantage of the long weekend to travel and to celebrate with their families, enjoying traditional regional dishes throughout the country such as ceviche and causa in Lima, goat stew in the north, roast guinea pig and alpaca in the Andes, and stuffed chili peppers in Arequipa to name just a few. Throughout Peru there’ll be fairs and street parties, outdoor concerts and fireworks shows, impromptu serenades in the plazas and parks, folkloric dance parades, and bullfights. As for us, Pirwa Hostels will be throwing Independence Weekend Parties in Lima and Cusco. (We’ll get the details to you soon…)
If you’re lucky enough to be in Lima on July 24th, you’ll be there in time for National Pisco Day, when the fountain in Lima’s main square is filled with Pisco for revelers to drink. To commemorate San Martin’s declaration of independence on July 28th, the day is marked by folkloric and Creole serenades in the plazas and parks. Ollanta Humala will make his address to the nation after a series of flag-raising ceremonies and 21-gun salutes. The following day, July 29th, is the military parade. On both days you’ll be able to see folkloric parades with dancers and musicians along the main streets, enlivened with ubiquitous street vendors. If you really want to take in some local flavor, try and catch a traditional Marinera Limeña dance contest, bullfight, or Peruvian Paso Horse Show.
Cusco’s celebrations are all about fireworks and firecrackers, bouncing clubs with private parties, and street parties. The liveliest bars and clubs of Cusco tend to be concentrated in either the Plaza de Armas or San Blas, great if you’re in the mood for a pub crawl. Unfortunately many places will charge a cover on these days, or charge more. Peru’s 2nd City never misses the chance to compete with the capital, so you can expect the White City to produce some exuberant parades with floats, costumed dancers and musicians into the night. While traditional bullfights take place in Lima and other cities, Arequipa offers another alternative bull fighting which is actually two bulls fighting!
Ever since they first swore independence, Lima’s Congress has been toasting independence with Liberator’s Punch:
Ponche de los Libertadores: Mix 1oz Pisco, 1oz White Rum, 1oz Golden Rum, 1 oz Algarrobina (Carob Syrup- very common in Peru), 1½oz Stout Beer, 1½oz evaporated milk, and 2oz cane syrup together, warm and then blend with 1 egg. Sprinkle with cinnamon and serve hot.
The unmissable classic is of course Peru’s national drink, Pisco Sour:
Pisco Sour: Blend 7½oz Pisco, 2½oz Key Lime Juice and 2½oz Sugar Syrup (the basic formula is 3 parts Pisco to 1 part lime juice and 1 part sugar syrup) with enough ice to double the volume. Add 1 egg white and blend some more to create foam. Serve with a drop of Angostura bitter in each glass.
- Secure your cash flow in advance, because banks and other services will be closed.
- Book transport and lodging that falls over this 4-day weekend in advance, as demand is high and many places hike up their prices. (Don’t worry about Pirwa, however- our prices stay constant all year!)
- Watch your pockets in the crowds- especially small electronics like cells, mp4s, and cameras.
We’re gathering up dancers, loading up our playlists, stocking up on facepaint, and putting our bartenders through their paces in preparation for this Saturday’s Inka Party in honor of the Inti Raymi Sun Festival!
All of our guests in Cusco are invited to party with us in Pirwa Colonial Backpackers from 9pm through the morning…
…And if you have what it takes to be chosen the Inca Emperor, drinks are on us!
Pirwa Colonial Backpackers is located at Plaza San Francisco 360, 02 blocks from Cusco’s Main Square. It’s on the side to the right of the church (if you’re facing the church). Check the map here:
Pirwa La Paz has just announced that they want to reward those of you spending more time in La Paz with a 5th night free!
There’s more than enough in the area to keep you entertained- including unbeatable treks showcasing astounding views over snowy peaks, the sprawling city of La Paz, and even as far as Lake Titicaca! Downhill bike along the terrifying yet beautiful Death Road, explore the surrealistic scenery of the worlds largest salt desert, Uyuni, discover for yourself the Aymara ruins of Tiwanaku, and delve into the biologically diverse jungle and tropical marshlands- you’ll find more than enough throughout the surrounding area to make you not want to leave Bolivia!
(Need help planning your trip?- we’ve our own certified travel agency specializing in excursions throughout Peru and Bolivia, Pirwa Travel Service- reach them at email@example.com.)
The hostel itself is enviably located just a block and a half from the La Paz bus terminal, with ample sunlit windows, comfy beds, hot water 24/7, an outdoor patio with foosball and indoor TV lounge, continental breakfast, free internet + wi-fi, and most of all: a friendly staff waiting to help you make sure your visit to Bolivia is unforgettable!
The details are as follows:
- The offer is exclusive, so it can’t be combined with other promotions, like our facebook or ISIC discounts.
- It’s per stay, so if you’re staying 10 days, it’s still one free night.
- It’s per person, so if there’s three of you staying 5 nights, you all get a free night!
- At the moment, the promotion is only running for June, but we’ll let you know if we decide to extend.
You know how it is when you’re backpacking: you think you’ll stay just a day or two, but days turn into weeks thanks to the new cultural and natural discoveries you make, and the new friends you meet from around the world- so check out our website for more info on Pirwa La Paz, and get in touch with us in order to get your
The ‘Return of the Sun’
Those of you planning on traveling to La Paz this month should think about swinging through Tiwanaku (in Spanish, Tiahuanaco) for the Aymaran New Year this June 21st, when the 5,520th year of the Ayamara calendar will begin. As an agriculture-based society, the Aymara began their new year at the beginning of a new agricultural cycle. During the Southern Hemisphere’s winter solstice, the longest night of the year when the sun was at its farthest, meant a new sowing season was to begin, and required rituals of celebration, adoration to initiate the sun’s return.
So why is the new year, which means Machaq Mara in Aymara and is also referred to as Wilkakuti (Return of the Sun), often referred to as Inti Raymi, Quechua for Sun Festival? Well, the Inca festival of Inti Raymi also coincides with the Winter solstice and the planting cycles, and also honors the sun. It was likely imposed in the 16th century when the Inca conquered the Aymara. (Which makes 5520 years seem an ambitious claim…)
Throughout the Andes, New Year fell on the Winter Solstice for other civilizations and cultures as well. This is why the date is celebrated not only in Bolivia, but also in Ecuador, Peru (in Cusco), Northern Chile, and Northeastern Argentina (in Salta and Jujuy), in both the Aymara and Quechua tradition. The festival survived after the Spanish conquest thanks to the coincidence of dates with Corpus Christi, which allowed for syncretic interpretations, and in 2009 President Evo Morales declared it a national holiday.
Shamanic Ceremonies & an All-Night Party
Above: Small fires lighting the path to the temple, and Revelers in the light of a bonfire
The Bolivian festivities take place at the thousand-year-old city of Tiwanaku, whose mysterious ruins were constructed by a prior civilization (the Tiwanacota, base of many Andean cultures) but are thought to have become the center of the extensive Aymara Empire, which stretched along the high Andean plains and the Atacama Desert.
Tens of thousands migrate to the ruins and pass the night partying with traditional and modern songs and dances, lighting bonfires and drinking the purple api corn drink to keep warm, enjoying loads of alcohol and food through the freezing night. (Temperatures can, and probably will, dip below 0° C, so visitors need to bundle up as much as possible….) There’ll be live music and sporadic fireworks. The celebration culminates at dawn, as the sun’s rays enter the Sun Gate at Kalasasaya temple, whose frieze contains a calendar marking the two solstices and equinoxes, and illuminate the Ponce Monolyth. It is then (and at certain points during the preceding night) that the Bolivian shamans, known as amautas, and healers, yatiris, perform ancestral rites in praise of Inti, the sun deity, and Pachamama, the Earth Mother. They’ll burn incense and perform rituals with coca leaves, alcohol, food and other offerings. Traditionally, there is a live llama sacrifice or two, whose blood is sprinkled on the earth for the Pachamama and upon those seeking good fortune.
How to Get There
Tiwanaku is located an hour from La Paz, in the direction of Lake Titicaca. And since you’re surely planning on joining us and the rest of the friendly crew at Pirwa La Paz, you’ll be able to get all the help you need at the front desk from the knowledgeable staff on how to get to the festivities! If you prefer, you can arrange for a tour which leaves La Paz for the ruins of Tiawanaku between 4-4:30am, so that you will reach the Kalasasaya esplanade before the sun’s rays inaugurate the New Year. Those who’d rather do it themselves, can take the bus from La Paz to Desaguadero on the border with Peru. From there you can take a smaller bus, combi, to the ruins. Pirwa Travel Service can help you with transport, entrances, and all other aspects of your trip if you desire. Tours of Tiwanaku are available throughout the year, as well. If you’re going for the all-nighter, follow the lit fires to the main event and don’t forget the blankets and hot drinks!