South America | Peru | Southern Peru | Cuzco (Cusco) – Senor de los Tremblores in Cuzco
We woke up on our second day in Cuzco, and headed down to our hotel´s courtyard for some breakfast in the sun. They served us wonderful yogurt with fruit and fresh squeezed orange juice. We stayed in the sun for a bit reading and relaxing before heading out to visit more of Cuzco. We made it a few blocks to the small square near the Plaza where we found some great shopping and we both stocked up on gifts for friends and family at home. We did, however, also find a beautiful alpaca sweater or two for ourselves!
We dropped in for lunch at el Trucco, reportedly one of the best restaurants in Cuzco. Actually, we ate in their joined taverna, and had an excellent appetizer of pastry dough wrapped around fresh cheese served with guacamole. After dropping our things off and picking up our rain jackets since rain clouds had started to form, we headed back out and thought we would head to the Cathedral for a visit inside it.
We got stopped by the crowd around a small church, St Theresa near our hotel. The quiet, sombre crowd of well dressed Peruvians also had people selling cotton candy, so we could not figure out the occasion. Then we realized we were in the middle of the celebration for Senor de los Tremblores! The legend surrounding this festival on every Easter Monday each Holy Week is that the people of Cuzco paraded the crucifix through town in 1615 and it stopped an earthquake and all the aftershocks as it entered the Plaza. Since then everyone highly regards this crucifix, and it is paraded through the streets on top of a solid silver alter (heavy!) and into each church in Cuzco before returning to the Cathedral on Easter Monday. The respect is shown so Cuzco is spared other earthquakes.
As we stood on the steps of the church, we saw the crucifix and the silver alter, which took about 35 men to carry very slowly, turn the corner and come down the street. People threw flowers onto it as it passed, actually a special red flower that grows in the mountains around Cuzco. People lined the streets and the crowd thickened throughout the afternoon. We decided to head to the Plaza and find a spot on one of the balconies or near the balcony so we could see the final procession back to the Cathedral. We found a pub and sat down at a table to have a beer and to celebrate our luck of being in Cuzco during one of its biggest festivals of the year.
As the time neared, all the TV stations were covering the final procession, our bar had the TV tuned to a station, and about 10,000 people filled the Plaza. For such a large crowd, they were quiet and well behaved, a rather dignified festival. I ran into Duncan and Darcy, two folks from my bike ride in Bolivia, who sat down and joined us for a beer. We crowded behind everyone to watch the crucifix get slowly carried back into the Cathedral, causing the entire crowd to errupt into applause. The Cathedral doors shut pretty quickly, and the people cleared out of the Plaza fairly quickly. What luck we had to be in Cuzco for this celebration!
We joined two British ladies for dinner at a mexican restaurant on gringo alley just off of the Plaza and then checked email before retiring for the night.
The next morning we planned on some more sightseeing and shopping around Cuzco. After another lovely breakfast in our courtyard we headed out to visit the San Blas neighborhood and walk around. One very insistent little girl sold us some finger puppets after she relaxed her selling techniques and sat down next to us at a fountain and talked with us with our limited Spanish. Another lady stopped us and showed us her weavings trying to sell us one of her belts she had woven on her portable loom. Of course, after she took the time showing us how she did her weaving we bought one of her prettier belts. And then three other ladies wanted to sell us one of theirs…
The Cathedral impressed with its fancy interior, silver alter and fabulous carved wooden choir. We also got to see the Senor de los Tremblores in his home inside the Cathedral. We stopped after our Cathedral visit at Jack´s Cafe or Place, and had one of the best meals I have had while traveling. Guacamole smothered my freshly made veggie burger! And Amanda had fresh smoked trout from Lake Titicaca with some cheese on some bread.
We met up with out group for the Inca trail at 7 pm, after rushing from a store to make the meeting. I left some watercolors I had just bought at another store on the counter and by the time our meeting finished and I realized I had left them, the shop had closed. Bummer! At our meeting, our group seemed nice and lively for the Inca trail, and our guide enthusiastic! Our guide explained we would meet the next morning at 6 am on the Plaza for our bus ride up to the start of the trail. Amanda and I just groaned at the early time.
We headed back to the hotel to pack all of our things, and after a few days of shopping we had added another bag or two to our stuff! We packed heavier things into one backpack which our porter we hired would carry on the trail, and then we would split up carrying the other backpack with our essentials such as fleece and rainjackets, water, etc. We also would leave behind our daypacks and extra bags in the travel agency´s office for when we returned from the trail. We both were so excited and nervous we didn´t get to sleep until about midnight, chatting about what we were getting ready to do, and how exciting it was to actually be heading out on this trip.