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Memories of my travels between 1972 and 1982

Friday, 24 December 2010

December 24th: Cuzco

On December 24th 1975 I was in Cuzco.

Christmas was a social time in Cuzco.  I stayed with a group of French speakers, mainly from Montreal.  I enjoyed speaking French with friends and then Spanish out in the streets, and both languages developed well.  I tried the restaurants, spent a lot of time at the market where there were excellent fruit juices and chicken soup.  At other times I enjoyed hanging out in the Plaza de Armas, which was always lively in the evening when everyone came out to walk in Mediterranean fashion to meet and be met.  People set up stalls in the arcades serving things like cake and ponche (a punch made with eggs and pisco); the arcades provided shelter in this season against the rain and any cold at night.

We did a few of the sights but leisurely, up to Sacsayhuaman one day and a full day out in Pisac for the market and a good walk about.  In Pisac I was struck by the straight streets with cobbles and a sewer channel down the middle, the church and the terraces beyond.  As we were waiting  for a truck to return to Cuzco, a group of Mormons in their plain black suits were playing frisbee in the main market area, while the local people went about their business rather more brightly dressed.

Plaza de Armas, Cuzco:  My picture taken in 1986
Christmas Eve was the climax of Christmas activity on the streets, especially in the afternoon when there were thousands of people out, many in fine ponchos or traditional dress.  Many new food stalls were set up and special ones with moss with nativity scenes, pottery stalls and other crafts for people looking for gifts.

Part of the francophone ideal was a special meal for Christmas.  A restaurant was chosen as being small and personal and having food which was not just the everyday sort but still not fancy.  The menu was agreed the day before.  When we turned up at 9pm on Christmas Eve the meal was very Peruvian and the service a bit strange.  There was melting ice-cream with chocolate on the table served when we arrived, which was not what was expected.  We did not manage much of this but the stuffed duck that followed made up for this.  Then it was a fish course and an apple dish to finish.  Then it was out to the square for a ponche and a stroll.
Plaza de Armas, Cuzco:  My picture taken in 1986

Food in Cuzco Market:  My picture taken in 1986

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