In the festive calendar Cuzco, July means that at the end of the month we have the celebration of our country, on the 28th, and before then the fiestas of Paucartambo, This town, some three hours from Cuzco by bus, is very well known as a party town because of all the celebrations that take place around its feast that honors the Virgin of Mount Carmel.
The main day of the feast is the 15th, which this year fell on a Tuesday. That was when the majority of travelers decided to embark for the town.
The people who live there prepared well in advance as they do every year so that the three days of feasting are a success. They want all who visit the town to be impressed and to plan to return the following year.
The main day begins with eighteen dance troupes which are presented in homage to the Lady of Mount Carmel. Everybody enjoys. They watch attentively the dances which tell stories in their movements and gestures. Mimicry, or as they call it here, parody, is the name of their efforts.
The hours go by and at night the towns lights come on. Many people are in the streets drink beer as well as drinks of rum while dancing in couples or individually to the music of the troupes and their bands. Other people are already resting to be able to get up early to go to Tres Cruces, Three Crosses, in order to observe the sun rise from the high altitude over look that sees the sun rise above the jungle far below.
Some people go a day early to get a good position and await the rising sun, while others go on the main day and others the following day. People need to be sure they want to go in order to be prepared for the intense cold at that altitude in the last hours of night. They hope the sky will be clear so that there will be no problem with seeing the sun rise and in this way be able to receive the first rays of the sun.
People prepare by getting very warm clothing as well as blankets and covers so that the
cold will not be a problem for them and they can easily watch the sun rise. (In English it is called sunrise, while Spanish it is called the exit of the sun, referring to its entrance. That movement from one place to another is what makes it important and is an important cultural value.)
The motors of the cars and buses that will be making the trek to the overlook warm up early. People begin arriving at the terminal around 2 am. Little by little the busses fill up and when everything is ready they take off for Tres Cruces.
The trip takes an hour and a half. During this time many people close their eyes to take naps. Others observe the passing night sine they are filled with excitement and adrenaline. The drivers, of course, are wide awake to make sure their passengers arrive safely. They need to be for these roads that are on cliff faces and full of curves, as well as very narrow.
After about an hour people reach the turn off, There the park attendents charge a a fee for entering what is the Manu National Park. It costs 10/S per person. The trip continues with curve after curve for a half hour until the buses and cars arrive at the overlook. There they pay their bus fare which is 15/S for the round trip. And people either decide to get off the bus or stay on it to seek warmth and rest while waiting for the sun. Most people do get off. They go to a building right next to the overlook where hot drinks are sold to help keep the cold at bay.
It is now 4 am or so and people are anxious, tired, and cold. They wait for time to pass, drinking coffee, hot chocolate, or ponche, talking, and even laughing.
At five am every one goes to the edge of the overlook to see wait they have been awaiting. They speculate about whether it will be a good, clear sunrise, or one shaded with clouds. in this way they pass the time.
Suddenly the energy grows and cries break out with light creeping into the panorama.
Colors become intense, red, gray, and deep blue. If there are clouds they are impressive. This year it was cloudy and people were only able to see the amazing landscape. The sun did not show itself through them like last year.
Once daylight has arrived people begin to return to their cars and busses and make their way back to Paucartambo.