Happy Easter weekend!
Although this Easter will be spent at home with family, I will never forget the Easter I spent in the Andes in Cuzco, Peru. It was my first big trip without my family and I was a bit terrified to travel with a group of people I barely knew. The leap of faith was totally worth it! Traveling during a major holiday was an experience in itself.
We were in Cuzco for Easter and the main square was abuzz with activity and people. Men and women were dressed in their Sunday finest. Indigenous Quechuan women walked through the square wearing beautiful full skirts and different colored hats. Accompanying them were Quechuan men in their best suits. Younger Peruvians wore western style clothing, but it was the older traditionally dressed men and women that caught my eye.
Cuzco Cathedral was packed which made sense since most of the country is Catholic. Some of our group decided to attend part of the Easter Mass. Although I am not Catholic, nor could I understand the mass since it was in Spanish, it was such a wonderful experience to be a part of. The Cathedral is a beautiful building, inside and out. It was so interesting being in Cuzco for such an important holiday.
To celebrate the big day there were fireworks and a parade with the military. Our guide told us that each Sunday there is a small parade like the one we saw with different groups from the community that are invited to join in.
We filled the rest of our day with exploring a nearby market and hiking in the mountains. The market was filled with all kinds of goods. There were some familiar foods and items and some not so commonly found in the US. We also had the chance to try some special breads and sweet treats only made at Easter time.
The views from our hike were breathtaking, literally and figuratively! The altitude in Cuzco, for someone used to living at sea level, was a bit to get use to. Hiking slow and steady did the trick to make it without having to take too many breaks.
My favorite part of the day came at lunch time when we were treated to an Easter Day delicacy, guinea pig! Although I had some reservations eating an animal I had as a pet growing up, I kept to my belief that you should do as the locals do. So baked guinea pig it was for me. There were two options, fried or baked, and I figured I would go with the healthier of the two. It wasn’t my favorite meal I had in Peru, but I am glad that I took the opportunity to try it.
So as I get ready to celebrate Easter with my family this year in the states it is fun to reflect on my time in Cuzco. It is good to remember that holidays are celebrated in a variety of ways all over the world. Maybe in years to come I will be able to celebrate somewhere new again.
If you celebrate Easter, how do you celebrate?