June 30, 2008
When I look at my pictures and see what time they were taken, I’m amazed that we went so quickly from one place to another. I don’t remember feeling rushed, but at the end of the day, I was exhausted! So I guess it shows how determined I was to document the trip that in the evening, I either wrote in my journal, or sent an email home from an Internet cafe (when one was available). June 30, however, was not one of those days. So I continue blogging about this day based on my and my husband’s pictures and whatever I can remember or glean from sources online.
A shaman for tourists
Yes, I know, there are people who perform “traditional” rituals for tourists as their livelihood, and that they may not be truly “authentic” but I am glad they exist so that I, as a tourist in Peru, was able to learn about some of their practices and get a glimpse of what the traditional rituals are like. Without them, I would not have ever found out anything about traditional medicine as performed by shamans, and OAT does go out of its way to expose its tours to a variety of cultural experiences, unlike many mainstream tour companies.
When we arrived at the ceremony that OAT had arranged for us, the shaman had laid the ceremonial materials on the rug in front of him. This ceremony was a sort of blessing and “stress reliever.” The shaman gathered a sample of these materials into a bundle, which he held up for us to breathe (“life”) into.
From the shaman ceremony, we went to Grupo Ama Arte Mágico Andino Joyería, a jewelry workshop and store, where we were able to see artisans making jewelry pieces using silver, gold, stones and other materials.
There was, of course, a shop attached to this studio where we were invited to buy jewelry made there. I purchased a pendant in the shape of the Inca sacred symbol (with the three tiers representing the sky, earth and underground) made of silver with a purple inlay and a small turquoise stone in the center, and a silver chain to wear it with.
Just outside the studio, my husband took this picture of a young weaver, which is one of my favorite pictures, because of the weaver’s facial features and expression, the loom at which he sits, and the color of his clothing, skeins of yarn and weavings.
Afterward we visited Museo Inka and Museo de Arte Popular, two of the best museums in Cusco, containing a variety of ancient and modern artifacts of Peru, made by local artists. We also visited Museo de Arte Contemporaneo.
Photos of any kind were not allowed in the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo, but we were allowed to take photos without flash in the other two museums. Dale took a lot of pictures in both Museo Inka and in the Museo de Arte Popular, capturing the unique, unusual, or personally relevant. I did not take pictures in these museums, relying on Dale for these, because I couldn’t figure out at the time how to turn off the flash on my new digital camera.
Also in the museum in which these photos were taken, was a great example of the ekeko, god of abundance (modern version). You can hang representations of many things that you want, including a house (miniature), foam (representing a mattress – a good bed for sleeping), confetti (for good luck), money (either miniature versions of bills or yarn, because if you sell wool, you get money), a bag of tiny balls (food), TV set, car, and a heart (love), among many other things. Tobacco leaves are considered sacred and are used by shamans, and other plants which make you feel good may also be found on the ekeko. It is custom to light a cigarette butt on Tuesdays and Fridays, and put it in the ekeko‘s mouth; you then make wishes and say prayers. The smoke of tobacco, marijuana or coca invokes sacred spirits.
The other museum, probably the Museum of Popular Art, contained many small sculptures of daily scenes, the Nativity (I collect nativity scenes from around the world), masks, etc.
Before and after, we explored some buildings and plazas of Cusco:
Near our hotel, Hotel Don Carlos on Avenida El Sol, is a cultural center, Danza del Centro Qosqo (another way to spell Cusco). We learned that there was going to be a show of traditional dances at 6 pm that evening, so we set out after a short rest at the hotel.
In the end, Dale and I did not stay for the entire performance. We were tired and hungry, so after we looked at some of the mannequins with traditional costumes, we left and walked to the Plaza de Armas to find a place to eat.
We did some window shopping on the way back to Hotel Don Carlos. Exhausted after this long and eventful day, we went to bed soon afterward, which is why I did not write in my journal that day!