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February 21st 2010
Published: February 21st 2010
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Cajamarca - Carnaval

From the humid jungle to the mountainous, dairy capital, and largest Carnaval celebration in Peru we went. Cajamarca is definitely my favorite spot in Peru. It is absolutely beautiful and the people there are very kind. It is surrounded my green mountains, full of day hikes and pre inca ruins. It has an awesome plaza de armas, that is absolutely wild during Carnaval. Carnaval was full of parades, elaborate costumes, reynas, dancing, live music, parties in the plaza that went on all night long for 4 days with people singing and dancing while passing around bottles of warm, homemade liquor mixed with maracuya juice. The last day of Carnaval is a "mourning" celebration. Las viudas (widows), which are actually men dressed as old woman from each barrio compete to see who does the best fake cry. There is music, fireworks and mucha fiesta. We had a particularly exceptional Carnaval experience because one the first night we made friends with a Cajamarcan named Sandra and her family. They graciously accepted us and involved us in all of their activities for the four days. Besides enjoying Carnaval, we also took the time to do an 8 hour day hike to the ventanillas de Combayo. We hiked through beautiful mountians and small pueblos to reach the Pre-Inca ruins. The Ventanillas are small holes carved into the rocks of mountains and served as a second ceremony for the death of the elite and powerful during Caxamarca time. The tradition was that two years after their death, the bodies were dug up and the skull, leg and arm bones were taken and wrapped in cloth. Another ceremony took place when they put the bones in the ventanilla and sealed the hole. The ruins are still intact, which is amazing considering that they have survived two ransackings by the Incas and Spaniards. We also visited the hot springs, where Atahualpa was when he heard the news of Pizarro's conquest.


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