From the large-scale professional festival of Abrapalabra, from living and sharing with numerous performers from around the world I embark on ‘the other side’ of touring. My arrival in Cuzco heralds a shift in my travels. Firstly it is cold. Very cold. I have to put on most of the clothes that have with me. Cuzco is high altitude and I was unsuspecting of all that entails. Thankfully my bag did arrive!
On my arrival in Cuzco I am met personally by the director of this festival, Wayqui. The festival is in its 3rd year and growing. It is a touring festival and a creation from his heart. Overall we are a team of 5 or 6 and we will become like family.
I have a day for acclimatisation, so we take the chance to walk, look, share and eat. Peruvians LOVE their food and with good reason.
Cuzco touches you with colour, smiles, indigenous faces, history, destruction, survival and pride. Walking through the streets of Cuzco I was struck by the dignity of the cultures here. Peru has managed to maintain historic and cultural identities with strength. Not everyone speaks Spanish and the Indigenous freely speak their own language with pride: in the market place, in the streets, amongst each other.
I feel buoyed by the sound of their language floating above and around me. I feel comfort in not understanding rather than stress that can occur in other countries/situations. The beggars, the sellers, they do not accost. They smile. They draw you into their world with a smile and warmth and then introduce you to what they have to sell – a photo with them, a doll, or information about the rocks you are standing on. The market stall holders were gorgeous. I have a video of one explaining the significance of symbols, stones, giving me gifts.
My welcome to Cuzco is heartfelt, with warmth and openness by the local population. I feel the weight of history around me and a multiple examples of how it can be negotiated. Overall I feel the strength of culture. I am very happy to be in Cuzco.