Saturday 19/05 (2/2)
We reach Ollantaytambo around 6pm. José walks with us to our hotel (Miranda). Nice welcome by the owner, Michael, from Denmark. We take a good hot shower and then go out.
I decided to spend 2 night here to attend the Señor de Choquechilca, for Pentecost Sunday. It’s a 4-day feria, which culminates tomorrow. It’s the town’s most important annual event, which commemorates the local miracle of the Christ of Choquechilca. It’s celebrated with music, dancing and colourful processions.
When we go out, we see a procession with people wearing nice costumes; they have 2 llamas with them. There are also fireworks. Kids like it. After collecting the laundry that we gave 2 days ago (and giving other clothes), we go to the main square where there are festivities in front of the church (and more fireworks).
We choose a restaurant on the plaza to have a good spot to watch the bamboo structure getting “lit” by firecrackers; it’s quite impressive. There is much animation in the plaza, but everything seems very much disorganized; it’s part of the charm of such festivities I think.
Isabelle and I eat Mexican food while the kids stick to hamburger (Florence) and spaghetti (Ludivine and Jules).
We are in bed by 9:30am. Like yesterday, Ludivine and Florence share the double room while Isabelle and I share the triple room (with single beds) with Jules. We are tired. We’ve walked 70km in the last 5 days; not bad.
I wake up early (6am). We stay in bed (with our phones / iPad) until 8:15am.
The night was good. The band started playing in the streets as early as 7am.
We take the breakfast in the hotel. We order pancakes.
The kids are really in need of a few hours off. We leave them in the hotel and we go out to see the animation. Isabelle and I start with the market. But I’m much more interested to catch good pictures of the many people wearing their traditional costumes for the procession of the Señor de Choquechilca
People seem to gather in front of the church near our hotel. There are ten or so different “groups”, with their members wearing the same (usually colourful) outfit. I wait one hour in front of the church, taking many pictures. I also take many pictures when the people leave the church. The number of tourists is not huge but still more than I had thought (many of them are coming from Cusco to visit the Ollantaytambo ruins).
I then follow the procession, which is going to Plaza Mayor. On the way, I stop at the hotel to take the kids; it’s already 12:15pm. We join Isabelle who is sitting on a bench on the plaza, watching the parade of the different groups.
Each group performs a (rather long) dance in front of the church. We choose a restaurant where we can sit on the balcony in order to have a good view on the spectacle. We eat some chicken, ‘palta rellana’ (filled avocado) and guacamole with nachos.
After lunch, we watch a bit the animation on the plaza and then move to the arena, located a bit outside the town, to attend the corrida. We stay 1h30. Nice setting. There are also horses.
Around 5pm, we come back in the hotel where we relax until 6:45pm.
We go and eat in a restaurant on the main square; spaghetti bolognese (Jules), quinoa salad (Ludivine) and pizzas.
The girls go back to the hotel right after the dinner while Jules stay with Isabelle and I to watch the animation on the plaza. There’s a band playing and people are dancing and drinking large bottles of Cusqueña beer. Jules wants to see the same “lighting” of the structure as yesterday but local people say that it will take place at midnight. We go back to the hotel a bit after 8pm.
Isabelle reads Tobby Loneless to Jules.
I’m also tired; I wrote the summary of the day in my bed, until 9:30pm.