Arrival in Cusco - walking into an Andean Folk Festival
Five minutes after settling into my hostel in Cusco and meeting up with an international contingent of newly found friends from the prior week in Lima, we made our way toward the Plaza de Armas, center of the gone but not forgotten Inca Empire. As we turned onto Calle Santa Clara we were greeted by the kaleidoscope of colors and sounds that is folk festival in the Andean Highlands, in this case it was Carnivales. The parade was just beginning, so we found a good vantage point along the crowded edge of the plaza to take it all in alongside the local revelers. Every minute or so I kept checking back over my shoulder to make sure I wasn’t blocking the old woman’s view, who had settled in directly behind me. I’d turn around and smile and she’d respond with a toothless grin of her own as we watched the parade roll by. Local marching bands made their way past in the procession playing tunes with old, rusting brass horns and drums while men, women and children all danced along behind in their colorful, traditional costumes. To add to the energy and excitement, gangs of the local children ran around with buckets of cold water and canisters that sprayed a soapy foam, similar to silly string, which they were all too eager to use on us gringos. The sun was out and it was a beautiful day so no one seemed to mind, we just took part in the celebration along with everyone else in the old city and soaked up the moment, along with the buckets of water.