Archive for the ‘Future event posts’ Category
Holy Week Like You’ve Never Seen it….
One of Cusco’s most popular events is fast approaching. Holy Week is uniquely celebrated in the Imperial City of the Incas, which honors its patron saint the Lord of Tremors at this time with a fusion of pre-Columbian Andean and Catholic traditions. This exuberant syncretism makes Cusco one of Peru’s most popular destinations during Holy Week- the city’s hostels and hotels generally fill up well in advance thanks to a sudden influx of domestic as well as international travelers.
Palm Sunday, March 24th
Palm Sunday begins with mass in the ornate Basilica Cathedral, followed by religious reenactments and folkloric dancers performing in the main square of Cusco, whilst vendors hawk wares promising good fortune. On this day, Cusco’s center becomes a riot of color- great photo fodder for the amateur photographers out there. Last year, in the plaza of the neighborhood of San Jeronimo, the Festival de Sabor Andino (Festival of Andean Flavor) food fair served up traditional Holy Week fare: roast suckling pig with Peruvian potatoes, tamales, and large rounds of ch’uta bread. Although this year’s official program has not yet been announced, expect food stalls to pop up around the Main Square (usually two blocks away, in Plaza San Francisco) if not in San Jeronimo.
Holy Monday, March 25th
On Holy Monday, the processions with the heavy statue of the Lord of Tremors begin, accompanied by musicians and people strewing red ñucchu petals, once used as an offering to Inca gods but now said to symbolize the blood of Christ, along the path. 60 thousand devotees gather to receive his blessings.
Good Friday, March 29th
On Good Friday, the Hampirantikuy Market springs up to sell medicinal plants and plants of religious or superstitious significance. Meanwhile, hardcore devotees begin at frosty 4am to walk the Stations of the Cross from Plaza San Francisco to the Lord’s Cross in Sacsayhuaman Archeological Complex, the Inca fortress of the giant stones overlooking Cusco. Unlike other places, Cusco does not celebrate this day with fasting, but with feasting. The tradition is to prepare 12 dishes.
Choosing a Hostel….
Holy Week in Cusco fills up fast, but Pirwa Hostels has four different locations in Cusco, so we’ve still got availability- don’t dawdle! For an unbeatable view of the dancing and processions, without jostling for room at street-level in the packed main square, Pirwa Posada del Corregidor is the best choice, because its restaurant, Plus Café, has balconies overlooking the Plaza de Armas of Cusco.
If you prefer to be close, but not completely in the middle of, the action, Pirwa Suecia B&B is located only half a block from the Plaza de Armas.
Travelers looking for cheaper shared dormitories and fun common areas (In-House Bar, Fast Food Stand, TV and Movie Lounge, Game Lounge with billiards, ping-pong, darts and more) just two blocks from the Main Square should check out Pirwa Colonial Backpackers. (The pic on the far left is the previous year’s Easter spread.)
Our final hostel in Cusco, Pirwa San Blas Familiar, is a quieter but cheerful hostel in the bohemian neighborhood of San Blas (4 blocks up from the Plaza de Armas). Besides its picturesque nature, this area also boasts a concentration of artists’ galleries and studios, which during Holy Week will go into overdrive displaying unique and colorful wares during art fairs in little San Blas Plaza.
Who Is the Lord of Tremors?….
Originally known as the Lord of Good Death, the statue lay neglected in one of the Chapels of the Basilica Cathedral, darkening over time by the resinous nature of its construction materials, and the smoke of incense and candles. On Palm Sunday in 1650, an earthquake of devastating magnitude ravaged Cusco, tumbling temples, convents, and estates. The initial quake, believed for a long time afterwards to have been the world’s most severe on record, was followed by an unceasing stream of aftershocks over the following days. As buildings damaged in the initial quake crumbled during the aftershocks, the faithful carried out processions seeking forgiveness, carrying different virgins and saints, with women covering their faces covered in ash as a form of punishment against their own vanity and the men dragging heavy chains which wrapped about their necks as they bargained for salvation, but the aftershocks continued.
It was not until the Christ was taken out in procession and placed in the Plaza de Armas to be adored that the aftershocks ceased, giving birth to the cult of the Lord of Tremors, also known as the Black Christ. Thus, the processions continue to this day each Holy Monday. Aside from viewing him as the protector of Cusco, some believers say that the color of the Christ statue darkens as he realizes miracles, that the weight of the litter which the most devoted bear is the weight of the sins one carries, or that his face will express the nature of the coming year…
Santurantikuy: Then & Now
On December 24th each year, Peru’s largest folkart fair, Santurantikuy, hits the main square of Cusco in a tradition dating back to the colonial period. The name is Quechua for Saints’ Sale, which is what it originally was: an art fair providing wise men, holy family, virgins and saints for home nativities. The fair’s most prevalent product was the Niño Manuelito in many manifestations. (The Niño Manuelito is the Child Christ, and the most traditional incanation is that of a young child seated in a wooden chair with a raised foot showing a wound into which buyers insert a thorn which remains in the wound until a wish is granted.)
In recent years the fair has begun to include a much more varied range of products, from metal sculptures to handmade leather purses. Hundreds of artisans descend upon the Plaza de Armas laden with pieces which some begin preparing up to six months in advance- carving wood and stone, painting decorative ceramics, creating original weavings, jewelry and leatherwork, and more. They set up their stalls or spread their blankets along the archways and throughout the plazas.
Food and drink vendors hawking grilled anticucho skewers and hot chocolates and milk ponches add to the festive atmosphere and let you warm up when the weather cools down in the evening.
Some things to keep in mind:
- In the evening you’ll probably have better bargaining luck as vendors from out of town try to lighten their loads.
- Beware of pickpockets taking advantage of the crowds and distraction.
- The plaza will stay full until the night, so take advantage because by Christmas Day they’ll all have disappeared.
- Cusco’s climate is highly variable, and December is rainy season, so bring your rain poncho, but put on the sunblock anyway because the UV rays at this altitude are strong!
While Celebrating the Holidays in Cusco…
What else should you be sure to do on Christmas Eve in Cusco? Definitely go traditional with some hot chocolate and paneton, the Peruvian version of fruitcake. You can pick up the ingredients for the former and a box of the latter in the provisional markets which will pop up all throughout the streets and plazas. Also, we hope that you’ll join us at Pirwa Colonial Backpackers for our traditional Christmas Eve dinner before heading back to the Plaza for the midnight fireworks.
Those of you traveling through Bolivia or Peru during the holiday season will notice that Christmas here is quite different than in many other places. Firstly, it falls in summertime and, in the Andes, the rainy season. Rather than ubiquitous Santa Clauses on every corner and in every shopping mall, there’s the live-action neighborhood nativity with real animals and people. As for homes, the range of nativities is impressive, from plaster boxes to hollowed out and painted gourds, but exterior decorations are not as popular, although you can find festive displays along the cities’ main streets and central plaza. In Bolivia, baby Jesus will be removed on the Epiphany (Jan 6th) and taken to mass.
(Left to right: Christmas festivities at Pirwa Colonial‘s Bar in Cusco, the HSBC building in Lima, and the 3 Kings stopping traffic in Lima)
In Lima, during the week before Christmas, there are celebrations and concerts throughout the city’s parks and plazas. The one you don’t want to miss is the HSBC Christmas show in historic San Martin Plaza:
In both Peru and Bolivia, the big day is Christmas Eve, rather than Christmas day, with the traditional Christmas Eve dinner. The streets fill throughout the day with families carrying the Christmas baskets provided by employers- generally large plastic tubs filled with flour, rice, sugar, cooking oil, a chicken, sparkling cider, milk, and chocolate. Those who aren’t carrying baskets are carrying roasting pans as they take their chicken or turkey to or from the neighborhood ovens.
If you’re lucky enough to be in Cusco for Christmas Eve, you’ll want to head to the Plaza de Armas as well. There, in the final days before Christmas, the Santurantikuy (Saints’ Sale) fair pops up. Peru’s largest folk art fair is a lively affair thanks to the food and drink vendors which pop up. In the years directly following the Spanish conquest of Peru, the fair mostly sold nativity figurines, especially the Niño Manuelito (Enmanuel, the child Christ, who legend holds appeared to Andean peasants) in many different variations. The most traditional incarnation is that of a child sitting in a wooden chair with one foot raised, exposing a wound where those making a wish can insert a thorn which won’t be taken out until the wish is granted. Nowadays, you can find pretty much anything at Santurantikuy: woven goods, leather handicrafts, ceramics, wood and stone carvings, silverwork, paintings and sculptures. Don’t miss it, but beware pickpockets in the crowds as there will be many people. (I should mention as well that if you’d like to stay right in Cusco’s main square, check out Pirwa Posada del Corregidor, or Pirwa Suecia B&B which is just a half-block from the square.)
At midnight, the fireworks begin throughout Peru and Bolivia, accompanied by firecrackers, sparklers, roman candles, and miniature sticks of dynamite known as mata suegras (mother-in-law killers). The explosions throughout the Plazas and in front of most homes, with little to know control, is one of the biggest surprises for unwary tourists. With hundreds going off all around you, some at very close range, it can all feel a little war-zone, but in the end it’s a unique memory to take home with you. The following day most of Peru’s cities look like ghost towns, and it can be difficult to find open restaurants and stores. In La Paz, however, work goes on and the city bustles the same as ever.
Traditional Christmas Treats- What to Try!
Picana: In Bolivia, Picana, a spiced soup made of chicken, beef, and corn, is eaten traditionally on Christmas day.
Tejas & Pisco from Ica: These products from Peru’s Ica region are present at many celebrations- pisco brandy for toasting and tejas candies for gift-giving
Hot Chocolate & Panetón : Throughout Bolivia and Peru, Christmas is synonymous with hot chocolate and panetón. Yes, it’s fruitcake. Yes, the “fruit” comes in gummy candy form…and yet, the ubiquitous panetón (and if you’re in Bolivia or Peru during the holidays you will definitely eat a LOT of it) is surprisingly tasty and habit-forming. Come next year, you’ll be craving it….
We’ve got all the details you need to plan a visit to Ica during its Tourism Week festivities! There’s something for everyone, from outdoor concerts and parades to extreme sports and food fairs. If you’re going to be in Lima during that time, you won’t be far off, just get off the bus partway through the Lime-Nazca route. If you have any transport, itinerary, or other travel-related questions, just contact our travel agency Pirwa Travel Service for assistance- we’ll see you there!
11:30am For a Sandbuggy Ride to Huacachina Oasis, be at the Plaza de Armas (Main Square) of Ica at this time.
12:00pm Exhibition on Wine & Pisco Production at the Chaucato Artisanal Bodega & Museum at Huacachina Oasis
12:30pm Peruvian Paso Horse Show at Huacachina Oasis
01:00pm 1st Wine & Gastronomic Circuit, with the restaurants of Huacachina Oasis participating
04:00pm You have a variety of options at this time:
- International Sandboarding Open 2012 at Huacachina Oasis,
- Double ascent of the northern dune, north of Huacachina Oasis, or
- A Sandbuggy Ride at Huacachina Oasis
- Dance in honor of the “Queen of Tourism” at Hotel Mossone in Huacachina Oasis
- Nocturnal paddle boat ride with torches at the lagoon in Huacachina Oasis
11:59pm Fireworks over Huacachina Oasis
11:00am Free Entry at Ica’s Regional Museum
12:00pm 1st Wine & Gastronomy Circuit with the restaurants of Huacachina Oasis participating
- Sandbuggy Ride at Huacachina Oasis
- “International Sandboarding Open 2012″ at Huacachina Oasis
Friday Nov 30
09:00am Homage to Sebastián Barranca and floral offerings to illustrious Iqueños, followed by a Parade departing from Plazuela Barranca, passing through the central streets of Ica and ending at the Ica Fairgrounds.
12:00pm Grape Stomping Festival (with the Queen of Tourism and other invited queens participating) at the Ica Fairground
05:00pm XII National Pisco Cocktail Contest at Hotel Real Ica
Saturday Dec 01
07:00am XVI Bodega to Bodega Walk along the northern zone of Ica, departing from the Ica Fairground
10:00am Inauguration of the “Ica Puro Sabor” Food Festival at the Ica Fairground
10:30am 1st Regional Congress of Artisans at the Ica Fairground
11:30am Inauguration of the Wine and Art Fair at the Ica Fairground
12:00pm Perfecto Amor: Sweet Wine, Dry Wine, and Cachina Kita Kalson Contest at the Ica Fairground
12:30pm Inauguration of the Art of Cachuachi & Paracas Exhibition at the Ica Fairground
12:45pm Welcoming the Association of the Friendship Horseback Riders at the Ica Fairground
01:00pm Traditional Dances of the Southern Region Show at the Ica Fairground
01:30pm Tejas and Chocotejas Contest at the Ica Fairground
02:00pm Art Show with Concerts featuring: Dilbert Aguilar, Tribu y la Ñañita, as well as the participants of “This is War (“Esto es Guerra”) at the Ica Fairground
Sunday Dec 02
11:00am “Ica Puro Sabor” Food Festival at the Ica Fairground
11:30am Wine and Art Fair at the Ica Fairground
12:00pm Arte de Cahuachi & Paracas Exhibition at the Ica Fairground
12:30pm Tejas and Chocotejas Contest at the Ica Fairground
02:00pm Art Show and Concerts featuring: Dina Paucar, the participants of “Combate”, local artists and orchestras and the Andean Musical Group at the Ica Fairground
Guide to the Program
Need some background on some of the events? Here’s a quick glossary with the terms used in some of the events and the requisite background info:
Cachina: A popular Peruvian drink made of fermented grape juice (and other ingredients which can vary widely and even include Yucca), which like Pisco hails from Ica and the rest of the desert coast and can be sweet or dry.
Cahuachi & Paracas: The Paracas Culture preceded the famous Nazca, and are famed for their intricate woven textiles. The Nazca continued this tradition but are mainly known for their polychrome pottery with a large range of colors and surrealistic designs. The city of Cahuachi predated the Nazca, but became the ceremonial center of their civilization and may have been connected somehow with the storied Nazca Lines.
Cajón Peruano: The box-shaped percussion instrument known as the Cajón (Spanish for crate or drawer) has been the most widely used Afro-Peruvian musical instrument since the 1700s, and is prevalent in the Musica Criolla which characterizes Ica and the rest of Peru’s desert coast.
Dances of Ica: The majority of the dances of Ica are Afro-Peruvian descent, often referred to as Criollo, indicating Spanish, Andean, and African roots. They include crowd-pleasers such as the lively hip-shaking Festejo, toe-tapping Zapateo, and the Marinera, the graceful National dance.
Food of Ica: Ica offers a lot of food and drink options for travelers. Think about trying Carapulcra, a spicy pork and hen stew with dehydrated potatoes, or Picante de pallares Verdes, a spicy butter bean stew
Lord of Luren: The patron of Ica has been a devotional figure since the 1500s, when the icon appeared in a town of the same name after having been lost in the desert.
Peruvian Paso Horse: This breed of horse is distinguished by a natural, four-beat side-step. Swinging their legs out rather than forward makes them a smooth ride, an obvious parade choice, and a fun sight to see!
Pisco: One of Peru’s most famous products, hailing from the town of Pisco in the Ica region, is the grape-brandy known as Pisco. Made from regional grape varieties, distilled in copper stills, and never diluted after distilling, it can pack a punch for newbies but is the perfect souvenir from Ica.
Sandboarding: Sandboarding is like snowboarding, but on sand dunes rather than snowy peaks. The area around Huacachina Oasis is a popular destination for this extreme sport because it has some of the world’s largest sanddunes.
Sandbuggy: Sandbuggies, or Dune Buggies, are recreational vehicles with an open chassis (basically a tube frame). They are very lightweight and can be great fun for thrill-seekers and off-roading enthusiasts as they can hit the dunes at some surprising speeds!
Tejas and Chocotejas: If you’ve got a sweet tooth, you’ll want to try these colonial-era candies. The classic is candied fruit covered with a caramel and fondant,but there are other variations, such as tejas de almendras, with almonds rather than fruit, or chocotejas, which are covered in chocolate.
Puno’s Founding Anniversary & the La Diablada Festival
Each year during the first week of November, Puno, known throughout Peru as the country’s ‘Capital of Folklore’, explodes into color and movement as it celebrates both its founding anniversary and the Diablada Festival, showing off its hundreds of dances through parades and contests. The week is also marked by fireworks, concerts, food fairs, and handicraft fairs, so any backpackers thinking of traveling
Backpackers lucky enough to make it to Puno in time will get to watch as the devil leads his own parade of elaborately costumed and masked dancing demons with red crucifixes. The dance known as the Diablada mixes the 1500s religious theater used by the Spanish Jesuits to teach the Lupaka natives of Juli about Catholic doctrine and Andean ceremonial dances whose roots may go as deep as the Aymara Anchanchu or Supaya deities, or even 2000 year old rituals by the Uru civilization known as the dance of the devils.
This year celebrations begin on Oct 29th (although Miss Puno was crowned last week in preparation). The official 2012 program is as follows:
Sunday, Oct 28
1st Grand “Puno, Silver City” Parade begins at 8am and will head throughout the city center.
Thursday, Nov 1-3
“Sabores Andina 2012” Food Fair at Huajsapata Market
Saturday, Nov 3
Celebration of Puneñan Night in honor of the city’s 344th founding anniversary and the recent official national recognition bestowed upon the pandilla puneña as part of Peru’s cultural heritage. Festivities throughout the day, and from 9pm the outdoor concerts of the Grand Serenade will take place on the esplanade of the Terminal Terrestre.
The ritual reenactment of the Rise of Manco Cápac and Mama Ocllo, which involves the participation of more than 200 artists, will take place at Chucuito at 6am. According to the origin legends of the Incas, the founders of the Inca Empire mythically rose from the waters of Lake Titicaca before making their way to the area now known as Cusco and the Sacred Valley of the Incas. During the reenactment, the founders exit the lake in traditional reed boats with an entourage of more than a hundred rafters.
Sunday, Nov 11
The Symphony of the Sikuris begins at 10am in front of the main entry door UNA on Avenida Sesquicentenario-Alameda Universitaria. 3,000 Sikuris will gather on the shores of Lake Titicaca in an attempt to set a new Guinness World Record, wresting the title from Bolivia. Sikuris play the siku, or Andean panpipes, alongside some accompanying drums. As sikus cannot play all the notes of a scale, players produce melodies by using an interlocking technique.
The only Guinness judge in all of South America will be present as the gathering plays 5 songs from the requisite local, national, and international levels. The local songs will be Huajchapuquito, Cerrito de Huajsapata, and Flor de Kactus. The national songs will be the popular Cóndor Pasa and the Himno al Sol. Finally, the international offering will be Haydn’s String Quartet.
How to Get to Puno & Where to Stay
Don’t want to miss the festivities? It’s easy to get to Puno by taking an overnight bus from Copacabana, Cusco, or Arequipa. The bus trip from Cusco takes about 8 hours and is by far the most popular way of traveling to Puno. However, if you’ve got the cash to spare, the absolute best way to arrive is by train- this route by Orient Express has won a number of prizes and is said by some to be one of the world’s great train journeys.The trains leave on Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday, and on Thursday depending on demand. If flying is more your style, just remember that the nearest airport is actually an hour outside of Puno, in Juliaca, although it is not difficult to catch a shuttle or shared taxi to Puno.
Pirwa Puno is centrally located just a couple of blocks from Puno’s Main Square (the Plaza de Armas), about a 15 minute walk from the Lake Titicaca harbor. Its facilities include an in-house bar and DVD collection that you can use in the lounge or rooms, free internet + wi-fi, security lockers in the shared dorms, free secure luggage storage, and more. There are both private rooms and shared dormitories, all with private bathrooms, hot water 24/7, and comfortable beds. If Lake Titicaca is one your itinerary, stop by and visit us in Puno!