So here we are in Cusco, Peru, the ‘navel of the world’ in the eyes of some, observing the build up to the NYE2017 celebrations in 12 hours time. Cusco is, we read, the top destination for Peruvians when it comes to celebrating NYE, and one of the top 10 worldwide. In Cusco the colour of NYE is Yellow, and the markets are filled with yellow items – knickers & pants, bras, ties, hats, confetti, tinsel and much more. Wearing yellow, especially underwear, is supposed to bring you luck for the coming year. Green underwear might bring you money, and red underwear helps bring you love. Our underwear will remain black!
So why yellow? It’s in honour of the sun, a much worshipped entity or deity in these parts, not least as a result of one or more of the Inca creation myths, in which the sun god Inti is the second most important god after the creator god Viracocha. The myth goes that Inti married the moon goddess Quilla, and they gave birth to the first two Inca, one of whom was Manco Capac (1st Inca ruler, who possibly married his sister) ensuring the Inca could claim divinity & the right to rule thereafter.
Virtually all religions/cultures have creation myths, christians have the Virgin Mary & baby Jesus. Inca myth info here and here.Continue reading →
Coming up at 7pm tonight Cusco time, on 30 December, we’re delighted to see there is a local Critical Mass bikeride. Cusco sure needs events like this, as it’s streets are distinctly unfriendly to bicycles. Many roads are very uneven, but worst of all is the density of traffic in the often very narrow streets combined with a rather ambiguous attitude to traffic lights & rights of way. Plus the heavy pollution at street level. We don’t think we’ve seen a single bike lane here yet!
The flyer translates as: ‘Celebrate the culture of the bicycle and reclaim the right of cyclists to share the streets with the rest of the vehicles.’ CM’s will continue the last Friday of every month.
Unfortunately for us, not only are we in Spanish classes until 6.30pm some distance away from the start, but we have no access to bicycles. We’ll see…
The indefinite strike by workers in Peru’s Poder Judicial (courts system) continues nationwide, despite increasing pressure from their bosses (article in Spanish). The strike by workers in theFNTPJP union started back on the 22 November (see past blog article) and remains solid. It’s having a significant impact on the court systems – which are in any case slow, and according to many fairly corrupt – and continues to attract media attention.
Here in Cusco strikers banners adorn the front of the Court buildings in Avenida del Sol (very central Cusco), and protests/strike rallies are held in the street outside – in the pic above there were some 100 people involved. This seems to be one of numerous small scale struggles that we have observed going on in Cusco, others have focused on issues such as education (and lack of it), gentrification & tourist developments trashing local communities & historic buildings, and water (again the lack of it generally, nevermind any drinkable water source!).
Built over 500 years ago by the Inca’s, this defensive wall & entry point is named ‘Rumicolca’ and was used by them to control the flow of people & goods into the Cusco valley from the south-east. As with so much the Inka did, it was in fact an improvement on a structure built by others centuries before, in this case by the Wari (or Huari in Spanish) people. Rumicolca is an impressive structure some 12m tall and 3-4m thick. It’s located some 32km south-east of Cusco city, in the valley of the River Watanay (or Huatanay). The original Wari construction is believed to have been an aqueduct over where the river would then have flowed, but by the time of the Inca drought had lowered the water level of both the river and the nearby lakes of Huacarpay & Sucre, a process that continues today.
Impressive as the Inca structure is, arguably more impressive is the legacy of the Wari culture & empire, which existed from around 500-1100AD, although archeologists & others differ on the exact dates. The Wari originated from the region & city now known as Ayacucho in present day south-central Peru, in the Andes – this is a region that has continued throughout history to be rebellious, and as recently as the 1980-90’s was the base for the Sendero Luminosa (or Shining Path) maoist inspired peasant rebellion. The Wari came to dominate much of the south-central highlands of Peru and most of the coast, and went as far south as the shores of Lake Titicaca, where they ran into the Tiwanaku (or Tiahuanaco in Spanish) culture & empire, in what is now called Bolivia.Continue reading →
This image/mural was found on the wall of a small hotel near central Cusco (Peru), which came first – the mural or the hotel – we do not know. A translation of the text could be: ‘One doesn’t count the seconds, one counts histories‘.
The main image is of a Chola, or Cholita, an indigenous woman. Sometimes in Peru this can be used rather in a derogatory fashion, referring to a mestizo or mixed race (ie part indigenous, part spanish) woman, although in Bolivia Cholitas seem to have a much more positive image. Either way...the women represent a history of oppression, be it from the original Spanish invaders who decimated (and raped) the indigenous population, or the continuing machismo nature of south America; but also of defiance, despite all that has happened they are still here. And they remember the history!
Well that caught us by surprise! At 5 minutes to midnight on xmas eve, Cusco exploded with a cacophany of noise. Bangers & chinese crackers echoed in the narrow streets whilst larger fireworks exploded high in the sky providing an array of colours. This was no organised city centre state display, but a self-organised custom that happened across all the districts of Cusco, from the valley floor to the mountainsides overlooking the city, and lasted until at least 20 minutes past midnight. This video(on utube) from 2012 gives you a flavour of what it is like.Continue reading →