Vlog by Isabelle (covering the 2 days): see below.
We wake up around 5:30am. The night was not great, not so much because of the cold but because of the light “incline” of our mattresses (we were sliding).
It’s cold: -4°C. There’s frost on the ground (and on our tents); the stream near our tent is frozen.
We take a breakfast (pancakes) and we go to walk among the “chaos” (vendors, tents, pilgrims, dancing groups…).
The most remarkable aspect of the festival is the dancing. Each of the nations has its own ritual costume and dance routine. Some have sequined butterflies embroidered on boards on their backs; others don masks with large noses and wide smiles. One nation’s dancers wear full-body condor costumes, while others sport elaborate headdresses topped with crowns of feathers. To the sounds of their own music played on drums, flutes and the occasional accordion, dancers move to routines they’ve known since childhood. The dancing (and the music…) hasn’t stopped since we arrived; it has continued throughout the night.
I take many pictures; it’s at the same time very photogenic but also very difficult to get good pictures (too many “things” on one picture, many of them moving). I take more than 600 pictures of the festival itself.
The “setting” is something very uncommon: we see a blue plastic sea of restaurants, stalls and tents, which have all been carried in on foot or donkey. The whole thing is monumentally striking: a temporary tent city at the foot of a glacier, created and dismantled yearly to honour two mutually contradictory yet coexisting religions in a festival with dance and costume whose origins no one can remember.
After 3 hours, the kids go back to the campsite with Omar. Jules doesn’t feel too well (headache). Isabelle and I join a line of people who go inside the church (to pay their respect to the sacred stone).
Isabelle goes back to the campsite while I continue an hour more, till 11:30am.
It’s already time for lunch! We eat good meat (with a soup before, as always).
We leave the pilgrimage place at around 1pm. It was definitely one of the most extraordinary and memorable experiences of our whole trip.
We go down. After one hour, we take another path than the one of yesterday. There are much fewer people (hence much less dust) and the scenery is amazing, with great views of snow-capped peaks. The girls go back on the “main” path because it’s quite cold (cold wind). We reach the minibus around 3pm. We don’t feel too well. It’s strange because, going down, we should feel better… The trip back to Cuzco (3 hours) is difficult for all of us, especially with this “turning” road. It’s weird that the same road that we found so enjoyable before yesterday seems so unpleasant today…
We reach our new Airbnb apartment around 6pm, all completely KO.
The apartment is located in a 10-storey building, in a “less favoured” district. It’s quite small but ok (3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms); the kitchen is very small. Everybody takes a warm shower (to remove the dust that we’ve eaten during the last 2 days) while I take care of the dinner. I go to the shop nearby (such a poorly stocked shop!) to buy pasta, salt, beers, tomato sauce, water and pepper.
There are many missing items in the kitchen (plates, glasses…) and the gas is not working (and there’s a towel missing and the hood is not working), so I’m not particularly in a good mood when the owner comes. He takes immediate action for most of the things.
The dinner is bad, probably one of the worst ones of the whole trip (together with the chicken in Cuzco and the dumplings in Sydney): not only the pasta themselves are not great but the interrupted cooking (no more gas) and the very little sauce didn’t help either…
We all go to bed at 9pm. We’re super tired.