Friday, July 15, 2011

Donde esta la fiesta?

South America, land of the siesta and the fiesta. While we'd often been at the mercy of the former when desperately seeking groceries, postage stamps and truck parts, we hadn't, in 6 months in Latin America, managed to glimpse so much as a sequin. Where was the music, the colour, the sparkle...cue the dancing girls already!

We missed the Oruro Carnaval by two days in our effort to make our Machu Picchu train booking on June 19, which we'd managed to time precisely to miss the winter solstice festival scheduled there for June 24.

So imagine our delight when we arrived into Cusco from Machu Picchu around midday and saw a massive hairy spider and a towering warlike hombre brandishing a weapon... We followed the trail of freakishly large evil-looking things to their natural source - a parade!

Never has viewing a parade been easier - we had a good foot on anyone in the large crowd of spectators in their ponchos, bowler hats and colourful blankets. We watched the parade from the side of the street, then from the lovely main square flanked by ornate colonial buildings, then from a restaurant balcony overlooking the square where we ate lunch as the parade paraded below us. After lunch, we reluctantly left the parade to check into our hostel.

An hour or so later, we returned to the square where the parade was still in full swing with brass band after brass band enthusiastically belting out the same four bars of vaguely discordant music. Left to explore the town for a couple of hours and returned to a continuing stream of still-enthusiastic brass bands and dancing folk in colourful costumes.

Later that evening, we ate a leisurely dinner before making our way back to the main square - and the continuing parade. Sheepishly we wandered back to our hostel, comprehensively outdistanced by chaotic groups of small children in oversized hats and shiny prickly costumes who, judging by the number of parade entries still lined up in the side streets, would be up past midnight, well after we were tucked up with our bunny rugs.

Next morning, we were greeted with the groggy sounds of a city awakening. The low rumbling of early morning truck deliveries, the feeble crowing of learner roosters, and the dull clatter as the city stirred awake, accompanied by the blare of trumpets and clash of imperfectly timed cymbals...cue the dancing girls....

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