Saturday, July 17, 2010

You traveled an Andes Death Road .... because?

To attend a four day celebration of the Virgin of Camen.....
I traveled nearly four hours by bus to the isolated Andes town of Paucartambo.....

To be part of a huge crowd of people who´d come to Paucartambo to participate in this annual festival......  
But to get to Paucartambo, I had to travel in an ancient bus along dusty roads that clung to the side of the Andes Mountains.....

Non stop switch back roads that had the bus slowly climbing the mountain, only to descend into the valley ..... and then repeat the process of climbing and descending over and over and over ..... for hours!

The road through the Andes Mountains to Paucartambo was so narrow, two vehicles would nearly touch as they met ..... leaving the one vehicle practically falling off into the valley thousands of feet below.

The views were spectacular, but the drop offs were far beyond scary.....

The narrow mountain road was packed with vehicles .... and even though the road was extremely dangerous, many of the vehicles were driving much faster than the road allowed....

Slowly down the switchback  mountain road to the valley below.... then the slow climb up the  mountain on along the switch back mountain road...

Rock slides was an ever present problem.... huge boulders lay on the road, sometimes blocking half of the road.  A massive rock slide, just after my early morning bus had passed, closed the narrow road for hours as huge construction equipment slowly cleared all the debris from the road.
And I traveled this life threatening road.... to be part of a large mass of people who´d all come go Paucartambo to.....
See the Virgin of Carmen ...... and party!
Here´s the kicker!  I could find no place to stay in Paucartambo so I had to return to Cuzco the same day.... only my retun along this Death Road was now in the dark!

Come see the Virgin of Carmen

The Virgin of Carmen in the Paucartambo Catholic Church
After riding for 4 hours along a dusty gravel road in a old bus, I too wanted to see the Virgin of Carmen!

All afternoon long, groups of colorful dansers entered the church to ador the Virgin of Carmen.
Even a llama came into the church to be with the Virgin of Carmen!  Hmm the llama´s ears laid back.... not sure its too happy with all the commotion!

The Catholic Church in Paucartambo

The Catholic Church of Paucartambo with crowds forming in the plaza.

Many of the groups that performed in the plaza in front of the Church, brought with them a miniture version of the Virgin of Carmen that lead the procession into the Church.

Upon entering the Catholic Church, to the left was an area where people could light candles and pray.

The walls of the Catholic Church were filled with statues of Jesusm Mary or Saints.

The Virgin Mary
View of the alter in the Catholic Church at Paucartambo, with the figure of the Virgin of Carmen on the left with red cloth background.

Closer view of the alter in the Paucartambo Catholic Church.  The alter is carved cedar wood, covered with 24 and 18 caret gold.  The oilpaintings are some 500 or more years old.

Bright feather hats danse and sing for the Virgin of Carmen

More masks for the Virgin of Carmen!

Doesn´t she look just so pretty!

Not all of the masks wre beautiful..... there were some really ugly, scary masks too!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Traditional dress and danse for the Virgin of Carmen

Masks and more for the Virgin of Carmen

The first day of the four day celebration of the Virgin of Carmen.... group after group after group performed in front of the church.... for hours!

Once their performance was finished in the plaza, the groups would move into the church where they would perform again... this time for the Virgin of Carmen.

Little boy, dressed for the day, watches as a group performs in the plaza.

Even as all the dansers moved in and out of the church on a regular basis, individuals and families spent time in the Church ..... also adoring the Virgin of Carmen.  Many brought fresh flowers to place in front of theVirgin.

A few performers arrived on horseback.

Clear the way! 

One of the largest and oldest danse groups is dedicated to the Africans who were brought to Peru. La Casa del los Negritos has a long colorful history of dansing at the annual celebration for the Virgin of Carmen.

The group of dansers keeps alive the customs, dress and danse of the Africans who lived along the coast of Peru.

An element of this danse is to remind everyone, of the slavery that existed in Peru at one time.

Group leaves the church.

Big Nose enters the Catholic Church

Group after group entered the church to perform for the Virgin of Carmen  When the group got close to the Virgin, all dansing would stop as the dansers dropped to the floor in respect for the Virgin.

Andes customs and the Virgin of Carmen

About to enter the Catholic church to adore the Virgin of Carmen.

Dansers in the plaza in front of the Catholic Church in Paucartambo.

Well... well.... well..... an elephant in Paucartambo too!

A face within a face.

Group enters the church.

Main plaza in front of the church where the groups performed.

Dansers in the Catholic  Church performing in front of the Virgin of Carmen.