Monday — April 6Those who know me even a little bit are well aware of my distaste for being in crowds. They would, therefore, be amazed that I even considered going to the Procession of the Señor de Los Temblores (Lord of the Earthquakes) in Cusco. I’m amazed myself. But go I did, because I knew it would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for us.As might be expected, the crowds were a real doozy. I survived the event thanks to Vidal’s foresight. Not only did he make sure that we were on the right side of the crowd filling the Plaza de Armas and the roads leading into it, but he also found the perfect spot for us at a pub overlooking the festivities. Our perch on the second floor put enough distance between me and the sea of humanity in the plaza that I was actually able to enjoy the procession.Following our visit to the Pisac ruins, we were back in Cusco around 4:30p. The roads into the city center were already shut down, so Joaquin dropped us off on a side street a few blocks away. Guiding us through streets that were still deserted, Vidal led us to the Plaza de Armas where things were relatively quiet considering the event that was about to take place. “This lasts all day. They take the Señor out in the morning. They proceed around Cusco and come back to the Cathedral at night. The crowds will start arriving after 5:00p; by 7:00p the plaza will be filled with people — old, young, even babies,” Vidal explained as we wandered around the park.The balconies of the buildings rimming the plaza were decorated with white lace, red velvet, and palm fronds. They were ready for Easter and the festivities. And yet, there were very few people filling the tables overlooking the square. The only evidence that something big was looming on the horizon was the TV crews in the plaza and the police standing along the top of the steps in front of the Cathedral. I couldn’t help comment that in the US not only would there be no empty tables this close to the procession time, but that the plaza would be so full of people that it would be impossible to move.
The buildings rimming the plaza are decorated for Easter.
An angel named Milagros (miracles).
When she wasn’t playing with her toy, she was picking flowers to give to her mother.
The crowds start to gather.
Church dignitaries waiting to carry the crucifix across the Plaza de Armas to the Cathedral.
An old woman selling “choclo con azucar” (sweetened corn — or popcorn a la Peruano).As dusk fell, Vidal led us to Paddy’s, “the highest Irish pub in the world.” I’m still amazed that for the price of a meal and a couple of beers we were allowed to monopolize a booth that would have accommodated twice as many people. It would never have happened in the US; at least not without paying a premium. While we didn’t have a balcony per se, the French window with its small ledge turned out to be the perfect spot from which to enjoy the festivities — the procession came straight towards us before going a short ways down the street next to Paddy’s to make the turn onto the platform in front of the Cathedral. That the food was very good and the brews ice cold was a plus.
Paddy’s — the perfect vantage point for watching the procession.
We enjoy a cold brew at Paddy’s while we wait for the procession.
(photo by Vidal)
The procession, though distant, is now visible as it makes its way towards Plaza de Armas.
We can actually see the crucifix now, but it will be another hour before the procession is anywhere near us.By this time, the crowds were at full capacity. The buildings on the plaza looked like they were being submerged in a flood — except that they were drowning in people, not water. People were packed so far down the side streets that there was not the slightest chance of them getting a glimpse of the procession. When I made a comment to that effect, Vidal explained that they didn’t really care if they could see the festivities, it was enough that they be present for the blessing that would follow the procession.The procession eventually came right up to Paddy’s before making a small zig (no zag) to go up the adjacent road. We were close enough that had our perch been on the first floor, we could have touched the crucifix as it went by.
Close enough that we don’t need to zoom-in to see the details.
As the crucifix passes by, people scatter red salvia petals onto the cross. The salvia represents the blood of Christ.We did not wait for the blessing. As soon as the procession had cleared the street and was on the platform in front of the Cathedral, we boogied out of Paddy’s. To see us double-stepping our way up the street, you’d think we’d robbed a bank and were trying to make a getaway. Well, we were trying to make a getaway, but it was the crowds that we were trying to escape. It was the only way not to drown in the crush of humanity that we knew would be close behind. I am eternally grateful that we weren’t on the other side of the plaza where we would have had to wade through the crowds before we could get anywhere near the road leading to the hotel. (For daytime photos of the 2007 procession see this website.)Next Up: Day 5 — Sacsaywaman