Inti Raymi- Festival of the Sun

Trip Start Jun 21, 2008
Trip End Aug 16, 2008

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Hola senoras y senores!

So two days and Im beginning to feel less lonely. There ended up being a lot of students currently attending the school, Ive met ppl. from all over the world so far, most speak fairly good english so there is little if any language barriers around the residence. Breakfast and lunch is served each day before and after classes, so it is a great opportunity to chat with other travellers. Naturally I was placed in the beginners level spanish class, as I dont have a clue about the language, and even after one day its difficult for anything Ive learned to sink in. Although as most students around the school joke, we are really not here to learn spanish, we are here to have a good time and hopefully pick up enough spanish to successfully haggle local vendors for better prices on merchandise.
      I just returned from taking in the celebration of Inti Raymi, or the Festival of the Sun, the single most important celebration for the Cuzco and Inca culture. A few students and I, led by our spanish guide, headed down to the Plaza de Armas (the centre of the city) to see the procession of Inca-inspired dancers, musicians and soldiers. It was quite the sight, the Plaza was packed with people, and a lot of tourists! I apparently arrived in the city at the right time, as there has been constant celebration leading up to today, including a parade that lasted from 10-10 yesterday. The streets near the centre of the city are packed all day and night with locals, tourists, and a shitload of vendors! It seems like everyone is trying to sell something here, from local specialty foods (including alpaca, which is llama prepared on a stick with potato) to alpaca clothing and souvenirs, and basically anything else you can think of. I went out last night with two new buddies from class, Thomas from Austria and Isaac from Orillia (of all places). After class we spent the entire day wondering the streets, checking out the local markets and sites and taking lots of pictures. We had some local cervezas last night called Cusquena, and went down to a bar called Roots, lots of local dance music and lights, it was pretty cool. We also had dinner together at a local joint not far from the residence, and we all had the local delicacy of roasted cuy (or guinea pig for those not familiar with the term, lol). It really wasnt that bad if you can get past the whole idea of it, it was pretty salty though and there wasnt much meat, but I had to try just to say I did.
    After the celebration today Thomas, Isaac and four others from our school went out for lunch, we had an entire plate with soup appetizer for 5 soles, or about a 1.70 at home! Its really unbelievable how cheap everything is here, Im going to take advantage of it as much as I can!
    Having been through a portion of the city already I can definately recognize the economic limitations of the area, there is a lot of poverty once you travel outside the centre of the city, although it has been relatively safe to walk around, so long as you are aware of the people and places around you. It has also become apparent how much ths city depends on its tourism, everything is geared toward tourists, from various trekking options in the mountains to the variety and abundance of food offerings and lodging options. I have been very impressed with the beauty of the area and I look forward to travelling outside the city to experience everything the area has to offer.
(Ill be posting pics from the festival later in the week)
Ciao until next time...
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