It’s hard to believe, but its true. Every day is a parade. Each day brings a new display of colour and the sound of pounding drums. The combination of the two makes it all very difficult to resist. The music and drums just draw you in and it doesn’t matter how many times you see the same dance performed (and lets face it there are only so many folk dances), they never fail to delight. Who can resist a festive atmosphere and the crowds certainly enjoy the occasion. One the days where schools are performing the stands are filled with cheer leading squads who raise as much noise as possible in support of their dance team. It was obviously a competition as the attention to detail was incredible. Each team had to perform their routine about five or six times for a total of about 10 minutes each time. By the time they got to the last performance many were clearly buggered, sweating leaning forward gasping for breath, aching blistered feet but when the signal came, they would rally again for one last time as though it was the first time. Some dances are more spectacular than others and without a doubt my favourite was one where the men dressed in the most amazing grass head dress (and reportedly heavy) that reminded me of a grass version of the Jewish Shtriemel. The girls wear brightly sequinned skirts heavily pleated skirts that fly up in the many spins and twirls. The variety of costumes really needs to he seen to be believed. Really if you have to describe it, it is all about the colour and the costumes.
While these parades are based on traditional folk dances, there was one group that was a break from what we had gone before. There is a major Incan festival called Inti Rymi celebrated at winter solstice. This is a modern day version of the Incan celebrations of Sun God (Quechuan = Inti Raymi) was apparently ‘reconstructed’ the ceremony from historical records in 1944 and has been celebrated since. The Cuscoans certainly have a lot of pride in their Incan heritage placing a lot of importance on Inti Raymi. Usually on Inti Raymi there is a whole day of ceremony that is held across three different sites in Cusco, but he also made an appearance at these parades associated with the most important festival of Corpus Christi which is quite ironic considering the ruling Catholic oppressors. It would be easy to think of this whole Inti Raymi festival as being ‘fake’ but that could never be said to a Peruvian. Regardless, the Incan king and his entourage were impressive. No doubt back in the time of the Incans, his presence would have been spectacular.
But the festivals don’t stop here. I haven’t even covered Corpus Christi yet! Spectacular in a totally different way.