This year I didn´t get to celebrate Carnival at home – luckily they celebrate the festival in Cusco as well! 40 days before Easter Sunday, Cusco turns into an even more lively and fun place to be. Together with my friends I decided to go to the Plaza de Armas to see what the traditions of this special day are like.
Before I left my house I made sure I was protected against water and foam because everyone had warned me about the festivities that take place during this day. I was wearing a rain jacket with a hoodie and a big scarf. In the end my precautions didn´t protect me at all. My friends and I were drenched by water balloons and spray foam the second we reached the Plaza. We decided to arm ourselves with cans of spray foam so we could ´fight´ back and enjoy the fun. However, next time I am buying a poncho and I will make sure I can cover my eyes because the foam is not fun to have in your eyes. It was a colorful day despite the rainy weather. During the morning, we watched the parade of traditional dancers and it was beautiful!
After we had enough of all the fun we decided to treat ourselves with a delicious piece of cake and a coffee, but even on our way to the coffee place we got soaked by water balloons. People even throw them at you out of their car window. They think it is the most hilarious thing ever (okay, it is kind of funnyJ). It is too bad you won´t be able to throw anything back because they close their window before you get the chance to do so.
In the outlying areas it is more common during Carnival to dance around a tree adorned with gifts before the tree is ritually cut down. This local ritual is called Yunsa or Yunsada, and can be watched while visiting smaller towns surrounding Cusco. The tradition is that people take turns hitting the tree with a hatchet, until finally the tree falls. Whoever gives the final strike, the one that makes the tree fall, will be in charge of plating the tree for the following year´s Carnival.
We had a lot of fun and it is definitely worth visiting Cusco during this time of the year.
Written by Stéphanie Gruijters