Expat-terns at a Glance

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Virgin is Mobile: Pisaq's Most Spectacular Event

It begins with the Youth! Carmen starts! (Photo credits by PintsizedPioneer)

Like Jon Snow, I know nothing. I have absolutely no clue when it comes to Catholicism. The whole idea of the Holy Trinity is just confusing, and I am not talking about the Arrested Development Holy Trinity. That is actually more understandable. Nevertheless, learning about this festival has been somewhat enlightening to my heathen religious sensibility.

El Festivel de Virgin Carmen is one of, if not the biggest, most celebrated events in this sleepy town. It is to honor the Virgin Carmen. Apparently, she has powers? I am not versed in Christianity, but in English her translation is Our Lady of Mount Carmel. She protects the town ... Apparently, she has saved some people from an earthquake before? I don't know. I still don't understand why we honor virgins so much.

It is a beautiful frenzy. Music, dances, and feathers!
It is a little overwhelming, and people play in the streets on the daily.
It is super fun especially when you are woken up at six o'clock AM by tipsy paraders.
(Photo credits by PintsizedPioneer)

Parades are the main spectacles of this three/four-day event. It begins with the youngsters, then the children in schools, the young adults follow, and then mature residents have their parade. Each occurs at different times and days and is filled with costumed people, religious idols, and spectacular dances. Men on horses and fireworks are also a fun surprise we witnessed this morning and afternoon. They actually have an official schedule for the festival. This is probably due to the fact that it is even advertised in Qosqo as a big deal! Talk about PR …

I hate this guy. He was freaking standing in the middle of the main parade. No one could take a decent picture,
and the Pisaq people were even like, "Get the hell out of the way!" He was freaking obstructing the parade!
It goes to show you how many people come from all over to see this spectacle. Chileans, Argentineans, and
Brazilians make up the most of the foreign visitors from South America, but
North American tourists are frequenters of the festival too. (Photo credits by PintsizedPioneer)

Additionally, this is a nonstop party. My host mother told me it just doesn't stop. My body isn't ready for 72 hrs. of partying. I might just have some Inka Cola. A vendor my housemate and I became friends with told us that you can just go to any house and get free food and drinks. This festival is kind of unbelievable.

At one of the parties, which anyone can go to, one of our friends told us that these people represent disorder
and social standards. They are a dysfunctional couple and fight because they do not do their gender roles in their
relationship. This is also why they have a donkey. It represents burden?
Did I mention, according to legend, they also steal children?
(Photo credits by PintsizedPioneer)

This festival additionally boasts so very traditional, somewhat unusual, customs. They kill some chickens in the town square, and there are two men in black face with a donkey who represent the Peruvian versions of Krampus (pictured above). I am not one to judge, but they didn't advertise this beforehand.

My host family is all dressed up and excited! It is so cute. My host siblings will all participate in some fashion, my host dad will dance in the parade, and my host mother will simply clap and support. They have been working for months on the costumes! That is partially why they look so fantastic.

Adorned with petals and carried through the streets by men in suits, Carmen surveys her town.
(Photo credits by PintsizedPioneer)

If you are in Qosqo in mid-July (15th-19th) come! Not too many tourists come to the full event or at all. Be those guys that come and see Peruvian culture alive (and a little tipsy)!

Pisaq is in full swing. I can't believe this tiny, quiet town is basically raving. It is just such a drastic juxtaposition from, like, Monday when I was just typing outside the bar listening to Shakira peacefully. I am glad I am leaving on this note. Pisaq is giving us volunteers a wonderful farewell party! That is egotistical. This is really for Carmen whose magic powers protect the town. I must say, she looks good for being a century or something old saint. I cannot believe I have to go next Monday (21st). Pisaq - thank you for all the fun!

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