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Thanks to all of our friends who’ve visited us at Pirwa La Paz, the newest hostel in the Pirwa family. For those of you who haven’t stopped by yet, don’t miss out! With a central location just a block and a half away from the La Paz bus terminal (with free pickups depending on your bus’s arrival time), a mix of shared dorms and private rooms, hot showers 24 hours a day, comfy semi-orthopedic mattresses and down pillows, Pirwa La Paz is a great choice for those of you looking for affordable but comfortable accomodations and a place to meet fellow travelers.
Inimitable Pirwa La Paz!
Posted on July 2, 2012 by Pirwa
The hostel boasts common areas like the TV and Game Lounge, the outdoor patio with grill and tabletop football, and the bar. To top it off, our in-house travel agency, Pirwa Travel Service, is always ready to help you with your trip arrangements. La Paz is a city with great cultural and natural attractions, and if you’re passing through Bolivia we hope that you’ll stop by!
Pirwa Puno is pumped for this year’s Virgen of Candelaria Festival!
This festival in honor of Puno’s patron saint is one of the year’s most spectacular festivals of Peru and South America. Considered the folkloric capital of the country, Puno offers a vibrant display of costume, music, and dance in honor of the Mamacha Carmen. Folkloric dance competitions and parades create a spectacle involving more than 40,000 dancers and 5,000 dancers as well as tens of thousands of more indirectly involved embroiderers, boot makers, sponsors, and others.
Dancing Through History
Puno has almost 300 different classified dances with distinct music, dress, and choreography and charged with symbolism and significance. Different neighborhoods of the city and communities of the countryside train well in advance to represent their area and dances, investing heavily in elaborate folkloric costumes that pertain to each dance. To watch them perform is as if you were watching the millennial history of Puno dance past you.
Dances like the Phusa Morenos or Siku Morenos emerged from the black slave community of Puno after the conquest. They are danced in costumes of the devil, angel and Afro-Peruvian. These dances led to the famous Morenada (Black Dance) and Diablada (Devil’s Dance). Other dances, like the happy mestizo dance known as the Pandilla Puneña date back to the post-colonial Republican era. With the women clad in braids, bowler hats, many-petticoated skirts, shawls, and little boots they represent the typical Andean women.
Its pre-Columbian dances of Aymara and Quechua roots include the Los Maris or Cahuiris, in honor of the gods of lightning and thunder of the same name, the Llullmitha with its long dragging dresses and representation of the sown fields, the alternating male and female circles of the Markheta, and the Inca Huallatha. Ancient dances like the Llamerada and Llameritos were some of the oldest, danced by the shepherds and llama drivers of the Andean altiplano.
Programmed Events of Virgen of Candelaria 2012
Jan 26th the Queen of Folklore will be elected and crowned. On Feb 1st the actual statue of the Virgen of Candelaria will be transferred in procession from the San Juan Bautista Sanctuary where it normally resides to Puno’s Cathedral. The procession in honor of the Mamacha Carmen is on February 2nd, when the dancers from the countryside descend upon Puno with their instruments and vibrant costumes (studded with gems for the Morenada, with feather caps, or as Condors and Llamas.
The Indigenous Dance Contest, with dances performed in native and typical dress, will be on Feb 5th at 7:00am at the Enrique Torres Belón Stadium. Afterwards, they will take to the streets and continue dancing in parade. The “Urban Festival” on the Octava showcases Colonial and Republican Era (‘Mestizo’) dances, mostly performed in bullfighters’ dress. This is when the barrios of Puno present their own troupes. The competition will take place on Feb 12th at 7:00am in the Enrique Torres Belón Stadium. On the following day the dancers all participate in the Folkloric Parade to the Virgen of Candelaria. After dancing before the Virgen they will continue on to the cemetery. Feb 14th is the concert of the musical bands, and Feb 15th is the Parade of the Sicuris and Zampoñas. The festival finishes with separate parties and dances of the groups in their respective neighborhoods on February 16th through 18th, although prizes will not be awarded until March 25th.
Remember that for this festival PUNO FILLS UP FAST! Try and make your plans as far in advance as possible to make sure to get the most of your trip. Pirwa Travel Service can help with transport, excursions and tours (after all, you can’t go to Puno without visiting the world’s highest navigable lake, Lake Titicaca, and its famous Floating Islands of Uros!), and Pirwa Puno Backpackers can provide comfy and cheap lodging within walking distance of the main square and the harbor.
Pucará´s Throat Slasher Ceremony
Despite the fascinating nature of the spectacle, it´s hard to find information online about Pucará´s Jatun Ñakaq Festival, otherwise known as the Throat-Slasher Festival or El Gran Degollador (The Great Decapitator). But if you´re in Puno between the 16th and 18th of June, maybe you´ll be lucky enough to witness it firsthand!
Much as the Inti Raymi festival is based around a theatrical ritual reenactment of ancient rites, locals in Pucará present an extraordinary scene as they reenact an ancient rite in a theatrical production involving hundreds of young actors directed by Ñaupa Riqchari (Let the Past Awake) Cultural Group. It takes place at the Kalasaya Ceremonial Center and Archeological Site in the Pucará District of Lampa Province in Puno.
You´ll notice that the pyramid site is decorated with carved stone trophy head borders- human sacrifices occurred in the ceremonial patio as offerings to the supreme god of the Pucará Civilization, the Decapitator. Long before the reign of the Inca, human sacrifices had a great value in society, although they were only resorted to in severe cases like drought. Today, locals congregate from Puno´s Quechua-speaking zone to enjoy the 4 hour theatrical show, which reaches its apex with a simulted human sacrifice.
Afterwards, all the blood cleaned up, there´ll be general partying and native dances will be on display. One of the most well-known is the beautiful Puli Puli, whose large smooth steps and leaps represent the stages of Quinua cultivation from sowing through flowering to harvest. Another typical dance is the Ayarachi (Soul Which Cries), a dance rising from the violent transitional period of the Spanish Conquest, when the Imperial City of Cusco tragically fell to Pizarro´s troops.
What To Bring Home
You´ll see them on rooftops all over the Andean High Plateau: the Pucará Bulls described by Puno writer Enrique Cuentas Ormachea as “an expression of baroque art and, at the same time, a manifestation of the magical religious spirit of the Qolla peasant.” An estimated 80% of locals are potters in addition to subsistence farmers, and the bulls are the most prized ceramics from Puno.
I couldn´t pick just one….and so we end with a herd of bulls….
Originally a ritual flask filled with chicha and cattle blood and drunk by the head priest during the cattle-branding ceremony, you´ll find guardian bulls adorning rooftops and providing luck for their residents.
After Pucará: Exploring the Rest of Puno
The Plan: Walk along the Ecotouristic Inca Seafront Bay (Malecón Ecoturístico Bahía de los Incas), a pedestrian path showcasing views of Lake Titicaca and pre-Inca solar clocks, or hitching posts of the sun known as sukankas or intihuatanas. Once at the harbor, stop into the Yaraví Ship Naval Museum, located inside the oldest single-propeller iron ship in the world, built in Britain, crossed the Andes in pieces on mule-back and then reassembled again in the Lake. When you´re ready to hit the waters of the lake itself, board a motorboat and stop by the traditional Quechua-speaking Islands of Amantani and Taquile, whose colorful weavings are considered the best in Peru and were proclaimed by UNESCO as “Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity” and the Floating Islands of Uros, whose Aymara-speaking Uros tribe (known as kot-suña, people of the lake) depend on the lake´s tortora reeds for housing, sustenance, and transport in addition to using them to build and maintain the islands themselves.
Just a 15 minute walk away from Lake Titicaca Harbor you´ll find Pirwa Hostel in Puno, managed by husband and wife team Jenny and Carlos. It´s also located only a couple blocks from the city center. For the same low prices available at Pirwa Hostels and B&Bs throughout Peru, you´ll have access to comfortable beds in cheery rooms, 24hr hot water, wifi throughout, reference maps and information as well as an in-house travel desk where you can get detailed answers to your questions and arrange tours or transport. While you´re out exploring Puno you can be sure that your possessions are secure and that someone from reception will be waiting for you- no matter the hour.
“From this moment on Peru is free and independent by the free will of its peoples and by the justice of its cause which the Lord defends. Long live the fatherland! Long live Liberty! Long live Independence!”
-Jose de San Martín, 28 July 1821
The National Holidays
All during July homes, offices, schools and restaurants all over the country proudly display the Peruvian flags and festoon buildings with red and white banners and streamers. Things kick off on the night before the 28th with serenades of folkloric and Creole music in the plazas and parks. The next day, which commemorates San Martín´s declaration of independence in Lima, kicks off with a 21 gun salute and flag raising ceremonies. Newly elected president Ollanta Humala will assume his duties and address the nation for the first time. On the 29th, following the Archbishop´s Te Deum in Lima´s Cathedral, there´s the famous military parade of the Armed Forces and National Police, with the country´s weaponry on display.
Beyond the flag raising, military parades and political speeches in the capital, the whole country celebrates its independence with traditional foods, fairs, bullfights, fireworks, music and folklore spectacles meant to honor national heroes like San Martín and Bolívar and a host of revolutionaries and patriots throughout the centuries. Many Peruvians take advantage of the weeklong vacation to travel within the country or throw festive parties with the family.
Join in the Celebration!
No matter which city you´re in, you´ll probably be close to one of the many agricultural and livestock fairs taking place all over the country along with 3 celebrations full of creole history: cockfights, bullfights and Peruvian Paso Horse Shows. If you want to get into the holiday spirit, make sure to wear your Peruvian flag pin, decorate a bit with some red and white streamers, and maybe attend a traditional bullfight. Prepare your Pisco Sours for toasting, and sit down to a spread of national plates depending on your region:
Do it right with Ceviche! Maybe switch it out for Causa Limeña if you´re not a fan, with some picarones or mazamorra morada for desert. Pisco day happens to land during Indepence Week Celebrations, so if you´re in town on the 25th grab a glass (or pitcher) and head over to the FOUNTAIN OF BOOZE- the fountain in the Plaza de Armas will be filled with Pisco!- and toast to independence. (Last year more than 2000 liters of pisco flowed through the fountain!) After the parade on the main day try and make it to a traditional bullfight or watch some Marinera Limeña.
Treat yourself to a whole fried guinea pig, shrimp stew, or stuffed chili pepper. Peru´s 2nd most populous city likes to give the capital a run for its money, so expect brightly costumed dances and colorful floats on parade, with music and dancing continuing late into the night. The bullfights in Arequipa are not of the Lima variety…these are actually two bulls fighting!
If you want a traditional meal for the holidays, you can´t go wrong with roast guinea pig, alpaca and potatoes in a spicy yellow chili sauce (papa a la huancaína). Cusco doesn´t know when to stop with the explosives, so there´ll be endless fireworks, street parties filled with domestic and international travelers united in revelry, and plenty of drink.
Goat Stew is a very traditional option, as is Rice with Duck (prepared with black beer), and a bean stew known as Shámbar. Here, you´ll find the major livestock and agricultural fairs with bullfighting, cockfighting and the Peruvian Paso horse shows. Make sure to catch a Marinera Norteña dance show….if you´re in Trujillo, you might even get to see the Marinera and Peruvian Paso horse show combined!:
Definitely try the smoked pork with balls of fried green plantain and pork skin (tacacho con cecina), plantain stuffed with meat and ground peanut, or the ground peanut, corn and chicken stew (Inchicapi), or the great varieties of Juanes which prove that there´s little you can´t cook in a plantain leaf. Enjoy your stay dancing to music of the jungle, whose happy beats are reminiscent of the cumbia.
Just four hours from the Imperial City of the Incas, Cusco, is the scenic colonial town of Paucartambo, instantly recognizable with its red-roofed mud-brick homes. Once a year this sleepy town bursts into bright colors and frenzied activity. From all over Peru people gather to celebrate Paucartambo´s Virgen of Carmen Festival. From July 15th-18th devotees and revelers venerate the Mamacha Carmen, patron of the mestizos.
It all starts in Paucartambo´s Main Square, where singing quechua choirs kick off the festivities. The streets fill with traditionally costumed dancers accompanying the Mamacha Carmen statue (its origins are unknown but it is thought to have been brought from Spain in the 16th century). Elaborately costumed Sajra dancers, representing demons, perform on the rooftops, pausing their clownery and dances to hide their faces and howl in fear as the Mamacha Carmen passes in front of them.
Paucartambo takes this festival seriously- each family group in the town represents a “house” responsible for displaying a certain costume and dance. Those who live abroad come bearing proof of their family ties and thereby earn the right to dance, practicing for months for the main event and many times enduring some hazing along the way so that they´ll take their responsibility seriously…
The festival includes an mock holy battle between the faithful and the demons before concluding with the farewell festival, the kacharpari.
Don´t forget to see…
The famous sunrise over Manú Jungle at Three Golden Crosses Lookout, in the Acjanaco Mountain Pass 35km from Paucartambo is not to be missed. In the months of May, June, and July the clouds create an array of forms, colors and tonal gradations not seen in other areas or in other parts of the year. Locals believe, due to the illusions created by the clouds, that during this time the sun comes out dancing.
Nearby, one can find the Ninamarca Tombs archeological complex. It comprises 17 stone and clay tower mausoleums known as Chullpas, built to house mummified Incan remains. The Watoqto arqueological site is can also be found in this area- come and admire the precise stonework with which the Incas constructed these inclined walls and circular constructions.