17 December 2011

Christmas Cusco-style, part one

The run-up to Christmas, in Cusco, in pictures …

In Cusco, everyone seems to be getting into the Christmas spirit. At Molino, one of the biggest local markets, everyone has decorated their tiny stalls with tinsel, or little Papa Noels, or miniscule Christmas trees.

I love this shot! The blue that people use here on their windows and doors reminds me so much of Greece, especially when the geraniums are added. The Christmas decoration here just adds that special touch.

A Christmas decoration Peruvian-style. This is made from a small gourd or calabash, as they call them here. Usually the locals etch images of Inca places or mythology into these calabashes and sell them to tourists as souvenirs. I love the novel use of this calabash, with a tiny nativity scene inside.

On the 14th day before Christmas, I went for an evening stroll around Cusco taking photos of all the stunning lighting displays. This is just one small building of the many that are beautifully adorned with decorations and lights.

This gorgeous Christmas tree is in the window of one of the more upmarket tourist stores here in Cusco, Peru. The tree has been decorated with local ornaments, like little llamas, tiny Peruvian dolls dressed in traditional costume, little chullpas (the local knitted hat with ear flaps), and much more.

The Plaza de Armas, Cusco's main square, is ablaze with Christmas lights, many of them in the shape of animals. I would like to say that I planned to align one of the streetlights to look like this reindeer's eye but it was, in fact, sheer good luck!

This window is in the Palace of Justice, the imposing and very beautiful Spanish colonial building that houses the law courts and justice department here in Cusco. Even in such a serious setting, Christmas is obviously still a big focus for the staff, as many of the windows are decorated with festive scenes. I love the irony of this photo, with Santa looking like he's in jail behind the security bars on the window.

This is Cusco's main Christmas tree, in one of the plazas in the central city. The name Coca Cola seems almost to be synonymous with Christmas here - you can see the logo on this tree but also in many shop window displays. Unfortunately, the Peruvian people drink way too many fizzy drinks, so obesity is becoming a problem in the children here, and such sugar-intensive drinks play havoc with the teeth of children who have no access to dental care. Coca Cola’s best present to Peru would be to stop advertising their products so heavily!

The 16th of December was La Chocolatada in the small village of Oropesa where I work. My organisation, Globalteer, and the kind folks at Southern Crossings travel agency gave all 800 of Oropesa's primary and high school kids a large hunk of Paneton bread and a mug of freshly made hot chocolate. The smiles were heart warming.

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