Tag Archives: Festival

Every Day A Celebration – Journey In Peru

Everyday gives cause for celebration and in Peru this is especially so. I witnessed many parades, festivals and demonstrations of the Peruvian culture during my nine weeks there. There is a Catholic Saint dedicated to almost every profession you can think of, along with days of thanksgiving to the natural elements such as the Earth, Water and all that comes from these sources.

Celebrating Saint of Police Peru

Celebrating Saint of Police Peru

Patron Saint Of Police - Celebration in Peru

Patron Saint Of Police – Celebration in Peru

Parades featured music, dancing, flowers and decorated ornamental dolls held high. Often those parading would be dressed in colourful costumes of various traditions.

Water Day - Peru

Water Day – Peru

In the city of Cuzco, once the Inca capital of the World, these demonstrations were more frequent and colourful but even in this small town of Ollantaytambo they had their ways of putting on a show.

Cuzco Celebrations

Cuzco Celebrations

Independence Day was the most spectacular of all during my stay. Day Of The Water saw little children parading with balloons and banners displaying the importance of clean water for washing teeth and various activities. The water in Peru is often not fit for drinking so it was interesting that little children should be highlighting this.

Independance Day Ollantaytambo Peru

Independance Day Ollantaytambo Peru

The day of the patron saint of transport saw every taxi and minibus parked up with balloons floating above them. The patron saint of the police gave rise to a gathering of police and their families drinking beer outside the station. When locals get married it is customary for the couple to parade around the town accompanied by a brass band playing the same tune I heard in other parts of Peru the previous year.

Independance Day Ollantaytambo Peru

Independance Day Ollantaytambo Peru

Passing by the door of the church in the square one Sunday I waited a while to observe the goings on. The paintings on the walls were not the typical ones you’d see in a Catholic church, in fact, they displayed images more in line with the history of the people and their original beliefs, which were more associated with nature. At communion time the music switched to a Salsa rhythm and I learned afterwards that only those who had recently taken confession were eligible to receive.

Independance Day Ollantaytambo Peru

Independance Day Ollantaytambo Peru

I had the privilege of being the onlooker of these eventful days. I concluded that I was living amongst a joyful nation. Each group taking its turn to keep the collective spirit high, perhaps preventing obsessions that rob the heart of its rightful state of sharing and being free.

Fiesta Del Carmen Peru

Fiesta Del Carmen Peru

Back in Ireland, the closest resemblance of this joyous celebration was the sound of Harry Krishna’s beating their drums, dancing and singing, on their way down Dublin’s South William Street now and then. I always opened the window a little wider to hear them more clearly.

Having returned to live in the Irish countryside, I listen to the birds singing in the trees. They are either Peruvian or of the Harry Krishna faith because they sure know how to greet each new day in celebration.

©Caroline Cunningham Author Of Wild Star Landing (Blog)

Long Listed Best Travel Blog in Ireland Blog Awards 2015

Beautiful People – Journey In Peru

We arrived in Patacancha, in all its muckiness, amidst much celebrations. People everywhere were dressed in colourful clothing. The men in poncho shawls and tossled hats and the women, the women, worthy of paragraphs that escape me.

‘Beautiful people,’ these were the words Alex repeated over and over and for days afterwards. I stepped my dainty ballerina shoes from the motorbike into the slippery mud of Patacancha. Like a ninny, I held fast to Maria, to make my way up the slight incline towards the culmination of festivities. I realised I was in scant supply of clothing. A ‘jumper,’ that Irish thing other folk know as ‘woolly’ sweater, would have been a huge advantage, that and an anorak and a hefty pair of gloves.

Andean People Peur

Andean People Peur

We were singular in our attire amongst this Andean clad community. It was quite a spectacle.  Little children bounced with joy on a nearby trampoline. There were stalls for various things like throwing and chancing your arm at winning a prize. There were vendors selling hot food of skewered meat and spicy rice, biscuits and the like of scones. Alex treated us to the lot. Everything hot was welcome.

Andean People Peru

Andean People Peru

Andean People Peru

Andean People Peru

The main events were taking place in an open area alongside perhaps what could have been a football field. A solitary animal lingered there whilst the ‘Beautiful People Of Patacancha’ aligned to cheer their teams at ‘Tug Of War’.

Patacancha Cuzco Region Peru

Patacancha Cuzco Region Peru

What a sight! First of all I was impeded by the colourful display, particularly of the women and many with their babies peeping from the wrappings of materials bound to their backs. Every part of their attire was woven red and white with intimate threads of blues and yellows and probably every colour of the rainbow. I never felt able to explain the look of it. They amazed my senses thoroughly. Even when seeing one of them individually in the town of Ollantaytambo, I realised I had a laziness within me as a writer, to comprehend what I was actually seeing.

Journey In Peru

Journey In Peru

Journey In Peru

Journey In Peru

Journey In Peru

Journey In Peru

Journey in Peru

Journey in Peru

Journey In Peru

Journey In Peru

Weaving is a heritage of these Andean people, handed down from their Inca ancestors and perhaps even earlier dominions. I just gazed and gazed in complete distraction. Women heaved and hoed as they tried to out-do the other team. It was amusing. There was not much struggle. In one big ‘go’ the other side ran their counterparts over the line. It was not so when it came to the men’s competition.

Patacancha's Beautiful People

Patacancha’s Beautiful People

Journey In Peru

Journey In Peru

Journey In Peru

Journey In Peru

I stayed with Maria, whilst Alex wandered around and mingled with folk he was acquainted with. I spied a log fire underneath a stone and went to heat my ankles for a few moments. The men were about to start their competition and the atmosphere was getting livelier.

Tug Of War Peru

Tug Of War Peru

Journey In Peru

Journey In Peru

Tug Of War Peru

Tug Of War Peru

Maria and I positioned ourselves nearer to the activity. We were in the thick things. As intrigued as I was about the appearance of the people, it was probable that I was spied in much the same way by some of this community. A woman spoke to me in Quechua. I didn’t know what she was saying but I provided the little bit of Quechua that I knew by way of greeting. She had much more to say. Maria explained in Spanish. ‘She wants to know if you would like her baby.’ I laughed. But in reality I was shocked. ‘No queries?’ Maria enquired. ‘No!’ I replied. Seriously, this woman was offering me her baby. I had not anticipated ever being asked this question.

Maria explained that, with the existence of ‘not-for-profit’ organisations in the locality it was not uncommon for these Andean communities to realise that they could benefit from assistance of ‘foreigners’ such as myself, to take care of the financial requirements of their many children.

Journey In Peru

Journey In Peru

I came face to face with reality in that moment. I had read a little about the state of things in Peru before my travels. I knew there was an element of traditional life that was alive and well in more rural parts. Whilst much of these traditions were worthy of protection from the invasion of what could be perceived as ‘aggressive western principles’, it was deemed by government and outsiders alike, that there is need for better education, particularly with regards to the affairs of sex and the empowerment of women to be in a position to have a say in their reproductive abilities.

The men beside us heaved and heaved and at one point it looked as if the other side would have the advantage. The slippery mud created much challenge to both sides. Women screeched and winced in fever pitch for their winning teams. One woman joined her strength to pulling the sweater of the end man. A child was beckoned to place a stone behind the footing of one of the men to anchor him in the mud. Every attempt was made presumably, by both sides, to secure the win. There was a  momentary standstill followed by a hefty heave which saw our side swoop the win. In that moment we were thrown in every direction. I almost landed on the most padded part of my anatomy in the mud. Maria saved me.

Alex soon appeared by our sides and was eager to get going on the motorbike back to Ollantaytambo, as it would not be long before the mountains would claim the darkness of the night.

©Caroline Cunningham Author Of Wild Star Landing (Blog)

Waino Dancing By The River – Story Of Peru

You seldom escape the gushing sounds of water in Ollantaytambo, in the heart of Peru’s Sacred Valley. Supplied by two rivers, racing from the towering Andean mountains, the Patacancha and Wilkanuta (Urubamba) rivers also deliver water to an abundance of stone cut aqua-ducts which serve the towns Inca stone buildings (Cancha) and the grounds of the Fortaleza.

Patacancha River, Ollantaytambo, Peru Photo by Caroline Cunningham

Patacancha River, Ollantaytambo, Peru Photo by Caroline Cunningham

Rivers and mountains are regarded as sacred to the Peruvian people. No wonder Inca Pachacuti selected this site for his residence. His reign is responsible for the splendid array of stones which form the terraces, buildings and temples which have earned this town its place as a world heritage UNESCO site. In later years it became the charge of Manco Inca Yupanqui to defend this town from the clutches of Hernando Pizarro (Spanish Conquistador). In his finest attempt he used his knowledge of the rivers and aqua-ducts to actually flood the plains, sabotaging his Spanish enemies attack.

Walking on Cobbled Stones - Life in a Peruvian Town - and the stones gave me lessons in adaptation

Walking on Cobbled Stones – Life in a Peruvian Town – and the stones gave me lessons in adaptation

I had established a routine of walking in the evening after helping out in the café. Off I set on my loop of the town, the sound of the water urging me to speed it up, or so I thought. Walking in the direction of the train station I noticed the road was busier. The season was picking up. There were as many Peruvian people as foreign tourists walking towards the train to Machu Picchu. I had noticed also in the hospedaje (hostel) that there were more families booking in.

Forteleza Photograph by Caroline Cunningham

Forteleza Photograph by Caroline Cunningham

Closer to the train station there was more commotion than usual. A large white tent was erected in the middle of the road, pumping loud music and above it I could hear a man’s voice interjecting with amplified announcements. Curious, thinking maybe it was some sort of commercial promotion, I peeped inside the tent. Next I felt an arm and a shoulder carry me a long like being caught in the current of the river that had overtaken me many times on my route. A sturdy Peruvian woman, with a smile that outstretched her ears, entered the tent along-side me. As if we were both expected, others were making space for us on a wooden bench at a long table running the length of the tent. I was handed a beer and folk saluted us.

Train to Machu Picchu - Train Station Ollantaytambo Peru

Train to Machu Picchu – Train Station Ollantaytambo Peru

Completely taken by surprise I found myself amidst party-goers with high energy. The music jingled like the rolling of the river turning over and over its rocks. A live band provided the music and the man with the announcements. On the wooden make-shift floor people of all ages were dancing vigorously. ‘Waino! Waino! Waino!’ squealed my friend who had carried me along. I knew then she was referring to the music. Waino is a traditional music of this part of Peru. It has an upbeat swinging rhythm and in the modern versions there seems to be a man shouting announcements throughout the tune. The other thing I discovered about Waino….it seems to be never-ending.

Patacancha River Ollantataytambo Train Station

Patacancha River Ollantataytambo Train Station

Up jumped this jolly woman pulling me along with her, and a few more besides. Now I was dancing the Waino….this is a good replacement for the gymnasium or any other fitness regime. Dancing at high altitude is a real test for your lungs and blood corpuscles. At approximately 2,800m.a.s.l, after three weeks, I was surprised at how there could still be times when I would gasp for air.
After twenty minutes I was truly whacked. The jolly dancing woman decided we should all have our photos taken together. Unfortunately I didn’t have my camera with me. I soon realized why I was such an attraction for so many photographs to be taken with me. I was the only non-Peruvian person in the tent. I thanked the folk surrounding me for the fun I had with them and as I left the tent that great ‘current’ of a woman left alongside me. She had been a passer-by just like me but instead of peering in as I had done she plunged right in to the action and got involved.

Caroline Cunningham Author of Wild Star Landing

Caroline Cunningham Author of Wild Star Landing

Outside the tent the foreign tourists passed by on their way to the train unawares it seemed of the activities happening in their midst. I completed my walk more excitedly. I had a new story to tell the hosts of my lodging and I had to figure out how to tell them in Spanish. My landlady explained to me that the celebrations in the tent were a continuation of the religious festival of Carmen, the same festival I had attended a few days before in nearby Rumira.
Events such as these were the highlight of my journey living in this beautiful town.
What is your highlight of Ollantaytambo town? Are you planning to go there soon? If you have been following my blog you will know that I have many special friends there so please mention my blog to them and say Hi from Caroline (Ireland).

Peru Rail...train to Machu Picchu from Ollantaytambo Peru

Peru Rail…train to Machu Picchu from Ollantaytambo Peru

©Caroline Cunningham Author of Wild Star Landing.