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Paucartambo and Virgen del Carmen

31 March 2014

Paucartambo has the biggest fest in Cusco, 'cause every year about four and five days. This city receive many tourist for visit and enjoy the festivity of Virgen del Carmen, that included food, drink, but the most important are the devotion of the dancers that receiving you very happy this Fest with the strangers.

 

Every year, on July 16th, a small town in Cusco named Paucartambo keeps the attention of the tourists and the Peruvians. This village at 100 kilometers east from Cusco city (4 hours), is a small town of a few thousand people, of white houses, red roofs and blue doors, windows and balconies. It still retains its Colonial architecture (17th century) with a stone bridge and narrow cobble-stone streets.

 

This village is not visited by many tourists, they only pass through it on their way to the Manu National Park, but they never stop there. Nevertheless, during a week on July, it is worth to stop and not only take a look, also stay there for a couple of days.

 

Weeks before July 14th, it begins the preparations for the main feast of the community of Paucartambo: the Catholic feast of “mamita del Carmen”, the way how the local people call the Virgen del Carmen, patron and protector of the town. All preparations must be done in advance because during that week, nobody will work because everybody will be dedicated to celebrating and honoring their patron.

 

The feast not only includes a procession of Virgen del Carmen on the 16th (central day); but it also includes parades with musical ensembles, masked dancers, fireworks, and lot of beer. A big part of the festival are the parades with dance troupes, each one with a different kind of outfit. The masks are important part of the outfit, they are handmade by local artisans. The feast also includes the dead, on the 17th all the people of the town go to the cemetery to visit their dead relatives and friends. They carry food and drink (beer and “chicha”: corn beer) to celebrate beside the graves of their relatives and friends. Also the dancers go to the cemetery to visit dead former dancers of the troupes.

 

Another spot to visit close to Paucartambo town is the “Three Crosses” lookout point. It is 40 km north of the town, and it can be reach by an unpaved road, after a one and a half hour ride. The view of the Andean mountains sinking in a sea of clouds is quite impressive. It’s an ever-present blanket of fog in the region that covers the forest like an ocean hiding a secret. The sunset is a gorgeous show, everything: the sky, the clouds under your feet, and the mountains change colors from orange to blue. You can camp there, but it’s humid. Nevertheless, it’s worth it to try your luck and wait for the sunrise the next day. Usually it’s foggy at dawn, but you could be lucky and be at the right day, you never know, and it’s worth the intent.

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