La Catedral

Cusco Travel Blog

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I watched the parade in La Plaza de Armas from the terrace level of our hostel.
      Today we spent the morning hours at our hostel using the Internet and doing a couple loads of laundry . Since we had just returned from the Inca Trail, I had a lot of work to do on my travel blog, which occupied most of my morning. Meanwhile, Karen and Jason took on the tedious task of washing and drying our clothing, so that we will be ready to head out to Arrequipa tomorrow. Since we had noticed a washer, dryer, and clothesline on the terrace level of our hostel, we assumed it was available for guests to use, which is common practice in most of the international hostels we've stayed in. Therefore, Karen and Jason piled our clothing into the machines, without asking any of the employees, and off they went about their business. When they later returned to check the status of the clothing, they were met by a disgruntled hostel worker who gave them a disdainful look, shook her head, and said, "No, no!" After Jason called me over to translate, we realized we weren't supposed to use the machines and we promised that we would not start another load.
Karen's doing laundry!
Oops!
      Since we couldn't leave the hostel until our laundry was completed, I decided to sit up on the terrace to read and watch the festive parade passing through the Plaza de Armas. Loud music was amplified across the plaza, explosive sounds rang throughout the air occasionally, and large crowds watched the events unfold. We later learned that the parade was in celebration of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, and I found it pretty unusual and inspirational that the whole town would seemingly come together to celebrate a religious holiday.
      Once our load of laundry was complete, we returned to the San Blas barrio of Cusco to eat lunch at Jack's Cafe Bar, one of the most popular hangouts for foreigners, or gringos as we are called in Peru.
Jason enjoyed his lunch at Jack´s Cafe Bar.
It was the first place where we were required to wait in a line to get a table.
      Next we ventured back to the Plaza de Armas, where we took a tour of La Catedral, Cusco's cathedral that was completed in 1669 in the Renaissance style. The interior was very ornate and gorgeous, and we were disappointed to learn that we could not take pictures inside the cathedral built on the site of a former Inca palace. The cathedral is full of some 400 canvases that served as educational pieces of art, teaching recent religious converts about the Catholic faith, which was new to the area when the Spaniards arrived. It was interesting to see how the artists blended the Catholic doctrine with local customs and influences so that the people could better relate to the Biblical stories.
Karen and I are not happy about the fact that Peruvians eat guinea pigs. They are too closely related to bunnies!
For example, in the Peruvian painting of the Last Supper, the apostles are drinking chicha (the fermented maize beer common in the Quechua culture) and eating cuy (guinea pigs). In addition, Judas is portrayed as a darker-skinned person than his fellow apostles, resembling a Moor. In other paintings, instead of seeing people traveling with camels or donkeys, they are depicted as traveling with llamas, an important animal to Peruvians.
      Also in La Catedral was an altar adorned to the Lord of the Earthquakes, or the locally famous "El Negrito." El Negrito is a brown-skinned figure of Christ on the cross, and it is known as the protector of Cusco. Apparently, this figure was paraded around the city by frightened residents during a devastating earthquake in 1650.
We pose next to donkeys. They are soooo adorable!
Shortly after the figure was brought into the streets, the earthquake ceased. The Peruvians have so much faith in El Negrito that fresh flowers are delivered in its honor on a daily basis, and it is paraded around the streets for religious holidays. The reason the figure of Christ has brown skin is simply due to the fact that is has darkened due to the repeated lighting of candles beneath it.
      Inside the cathedral, we also learned about the importance of Saint Anthony to the local single women. Most Catholics know that you can pray to St. Anthony when you have lost something. However, the women of Cusco also pray to Saint Anthony to help them find a husband. In fact, it is common for single women to have small statuettes of the saint in their home.
Jason and I stand in front of La Catedral.
Every Friday, they turn the statue upside down and then rightside up again to remind Saint Anthony of their desire for a husband.
      We then found a bench in the central square of the Plaza de Armas, where we opened up our books to read. However, it was not a very peaceful setting because we could not sit for more than two minutes before we were approached by a vendor attempting to sell us paintings, cigars, jewelry, finger puppets, or some other useless trinket.
      We didn't accomplish much during the remainder of the day since we were still a bit tired from our Inca Trail adventure. We visited an Internet cafe, ate dinner at a Mexican restaurant, and packed our bags for tomorrow's flight to Arrequipa.
mhiskett says:
We are so proud of all of you for reaching the summit!! You are an inspiration to all of us. The Cathedral sounds fascinating and the information about the religious figures was interesting. Thanks for the great blogs Lucy!!
Posted on: Aug 18, 2009
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I watched the parade in La Plaza d…
I watched the parade in La Plaza …
Karens doing laundry!
Karen's doing laundry!
Jason enjoyed his lunch at Jack´s…
Jason enjoyed his lunch at Jack´…
Karen and I are not happy about th…
Karen and I are not happy about t…
We pose next to donkeys. They are …
We pose next to donkeys. They are…
Jason and I stand in front of La C…
Jason and I stand in front of La …
Cusco
photo by: Vlindeke