The Earth Receives Gifts this Month

Offering a Gift to the Earth (Wayra)

Offering a Gift to the Earth (Wayra)

By David Knowlton

The month of Pachamama, the lady of the Earth and Time dawns on August first. This is an important time in traditional Andean society. The depth of the dry season, when brown can be seen everywhere and rain seldom appears, Andeans turn to think about feeding the mother earth, a payment as they call it, for her to return in fertility and brilliance.

Even away from the agricultural domain, in the City of Cuzco, this month is important. People turn their thoughts to finding a papacho, an Andean ritual specialist, also known as Andean priest, who can make an offering to the Pachamama for them and their household. They seek her blessings to keep away misfortune and enhance fortune. Read the rest of this entry

Leaving this Life, an Octava in Pitumarka

By Eric Rayner

Pitumarka's Temple (Eric Rayner)

Pitumarka’s Temple (Eric Rayner)

In the Andes the octava is a ceremony that bids farewell to the deceased and reflects on their lives. The octava is a fusion of Native Andean and Catholic beliefs and takes place exactly eight
days after the funeral.

I am visiting Pitumarka again when we are approached by the family of a an important and recently deceased member of the community the former mayor of Pitumarka, Don Mariano Zavaleta. The Zavaleta family asks us to attend the octava for Don Mariano. Read the rest of this entry

Drinking and Eating at a Wedding in Pitumarka

Members of Pitumarkas Weaving Cooperative (Eric J. Rayner)

Members of Pitumarkas Weaving Cooperative (Eric J. Rayner)

By Eric Rayner,

One Saturday afternoon, Don Timoteo and I are sitting in the Pitumarka town square. A man is in his fifties, slim, athletic and of short stature approaches us. His asiatic features are bronzed and wrinkled from a lifetime of working in the sun.

He is wearing the red jacket, black flannel pants, a poncho and a fedora Pitumarkan men have worn for centuries. This traditional dress is modeled after sixteenth-century Andalusian Spain. Andean Ponchos are a syncretism of Ponchos of the Cowboys from rainy Northern Spain and the traditional Andean tunic called uncu. Andean ponchos are no longer stitched along the sides allowing the front and back panel to move more freely. Read the rest of this entry

No Fiesta without a Circus

By Rosario Soto Bringas

There is no fiesta without a circus. That is what many Peruvians think, especially people from Lima. The feasts of the national holidays are not only painted red and white. They are multicolor with more hews than a rainbow. The circuses raise their big tents and with them the illusions and hopes of children and adults.

They think of trapeze artists, magicians and their tricks. They cannot wait to laugh with clowns and their strange names like “Little Rocoto”, “Whistle”, “Tea Spoon”, and more. They are the first to come out at the beginning of the circus and between each number to entertain the public. They keep people distracted while the lions are prepared, or the horses, elephants, monkeys, and dogs ready to perform their unusual tricks. Read the rest of this entry

Peru’s Red and White Waves on High

Peru's Flag and a New Generation (Wayra)

Peru’s Flag and a New Generation (Wayra)

By Arnold Fernandez Coraza

Today we celebrate our national Holiday, our fiestas patrias, in Peru.  This twenty-eighth of July we are all Peruvians.  The celebration began on Sunday in all of Peru’s cities and towns.  People gathered in the main square of each place to show their joy and pride in our country.

In the Imperial City we live our national fiesta just as we do every year.  Several days before hand several schools begin our event with a parade in the Plaza Túpac Amaru as well as in the Plaza de Armas, the main Square of Cuzco.  All the students parade for their fatherland. In other schools the students march down streets near their institutions with the flag on high.  They sing loudly out national anthem. Read the rest of this entry

Bundles of Green Herbs Enliven Cuzco’s Food

By Arnold Coraza Fernandez

Asnapa: Bundle of Herbs (Arnold Fernandez)

Asnapa: Bundle of Herbs (Arnold Fernandez)

Cuzqueños love a good soup, wam, tasty and substantial, at ten in the morning. They fill themselves with their warmth and nourishment to be able to continue with their work day charged with fresh energy.

These classical, traditional soups are found for sale from very early in the morning in case you want one earlier. Especially taxi drivers and construction workers make their way to the stands for this burst of liquid warmth and energy. Given their demanding work, these workers take a break at ten for a substantial bowl of soup. Read the rest of this entry

Parades Celebrate Peru on the Twenty-Eighth

Peru's Army Marches with Pride (Wayra)

Peru’s Army Marches with Pride (Wayra)

By Brayan Coraza Morveli

Every year in July, Cuzco and the whole country dress up in red and white, the colors that symbolize the peruvian flag These are called the fiestas patrias, or the fiestas in honor of the fatherland. On the 28th we celebrate out independence. From several days before people will be parading around the plaza de Armas in honor of our country.

All of our social institutions will decorate their buildings with flags, chains of paper in red and white, word, ideas, and murals of our independence. These are symbols that refer to the month of the homeland. Read the rest of this entry

By David Knowlton

Dance and Representing the Holy and History in Paucartambo (Wayra)

Dance and Representing the Holy and History in Paucartambo (Wayra)

English and Spanish are like to sisters who have lived their adult life in different places and after decades sit down to talk. They may have the same word, but they have developed different nuances and meanings from the experiences of the sisters with other people over all those years.

Sometimes the differences really do not matter as the sisters take pleasure in sharing and being together. Other times they make understanding difficult and can even raise ire,

A case in point is the word fiesta in Spanish and feast in English. Read the rest of this entry

Guinea Pig Campaigns for North American Palates

Cuy the Way Cuzqueños Love It

Cuy the Way Cuzqueños Love It

Guinea pig meat, much loved as a festive food in Cuzco, as well as elsewhere in the andes, troubles many North Americans who see the animal only as a pet. Yet at the same time eating it seems both taboo and exotic. Many Americans and Canadians try the animal in restaurants when they visit Cuzco in part to break taboos as part of travel.

Yet with the migration of many Andeans to North America things are changing. The US Census reported for 2010 that 533,000 Ecuadorians, 462,000 Peruvians, and 83,000 Bolivians lived in the US. With their US born children these immigrants make for a very sizable community of probable guinea pig eaters, which is even greater if one includes North Americans who have learned to want to eat this rodent. Read the rest of this entry

Spits and Rollos Claim Cuzco

By David Knowlton

A Rolled Kebab Cut in Half (Wayra)

A Rolled Kebab Cut in Half (Wayra)

The streets of Cuzco’s colonial core are different every time you walk down them. Sure, the buildings stay much the same, whether you are looking at old pictures or remembering them from when you last visited them. They do vary over stretches of time, however: a new detail here, a different color there.

You need to only go into the museum of Casa Concha which houses the Yale Machu PIcchu collection and was an important place in its own right. It shows you some of the differences of that building in different times. Read the rest of this entry

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