Blood Ritual

Our 23 hour ride from Copacabana to Cuzco was extremely worth it… little did we know that the city was going to be celebrating almost non-stop for a week! Everywhere we walked, people were costumed, drinking, dancing, singing, etc… turns out that they were celebrating Cuzco’s anniversary (from what? I didn’t ask – but it was probably the independence day). The next day was a large procession with a food fair, and then started the Sun festival (Inti Raymi) – it was insane! We then went to visit Pisaq – a village located in the Sacred Valley, and its incredible ruins. We even got to do a band practice in a metal rehearsal room! So far, we are absolutely in love with Peru.

Cuzco (Qosq’o in Quechua) is the most ancient city in South America that has never ceased to be inhabited. The pre-Inca culture Killke lived here in 900, and built many structures, including the incredible Sacsayhuaman (built in 1100) fortress. The Inca then took over and largely expanded the city. In 1532, the Inca made Cuzco its capital. 19 months later, they were conquered by the Spaniards, who destroyed many Inca buildings, temples and palaces. They used the remaining walls as bases for the construction of buildings and churches. The city (at least, the very center) is thus very fascinating; everywhere you walk you see antique structures and streets… Cuzco itself is like a museum!

Cuzco, view from Sacsayhuaman. The altitude here is 3400 meters above sea level.

Most people here are living in quite modern ways, but you can still see locals dressed in vividly colored traditional clothing:

Local woman with a really cute furry llama

The streets in the old part (San Blas neighborhood) are really narrow. They were made by the Spanish, and built over important Inca foundations:

Morning milk delivery in an old Cuzco street

We were very lucky, as like I said earlier, we arrived in a time of festivities. On the 22nd of June, there was a long march that started early in the morning – which finished as a party in the late evening. It was so funny; some people were trying to dance at the end, beer in hand, and were almost collapsing of drunkenness. People were selling beer in the street for 1$ a bottle, and there were food stands everywhere!

March for Cuzco's anniversary. Notice the church in the background; it's Iglesia de la Compania de Jesus. They were asking 7$ to visit it... we said hell no!

A grandma in extremely colorful clothing

Myself with a costumed Peruvian guy! Yes, I am always wearing my Pagan Altar sweatshirt. Hahaha!

Customed people were everywhere!

Some weird costumed guys' backs. They all carried a dead baby llama...

Our lunch, tamales! Inside was a paste of corn mixed with onions, meat, tomatoes and some kind of nice spicy sauce. Yummy!

Drunken evening dancing in the Plaza de Armas

The next day, we were told there was a Procession of Saints – also known as Corpus Christi. Paired with this was a food fair, which sold the traditional Peruvian dish, cuy (guinea pig!). We went to check it out for ourselves…

San Antonio in the Corpus Christi

Some other saint. Check out the insane crowd!!

Guinea pig, tortillas and chicken

More guinea pig (cuy)! Notice the one dressed in a little dress... its hat matches the lady seller's hat! What the hell??

Today's scores! I didn't dare buy any guinea pig that was resting in the sun for a full day; I got the tortilla and some amazing corn nuts. What you see on the left is Inca Kola, a soda much loved here in Peru... in fact, its sales surpasses the sales of Coca Cola!

We met some local metalhead, and asked him about stores and bars. To our surprise, there was nothing to be excited about in Cuzco; pretty much only bootlegs were to be found, and there were only popular rock bars. He did hint us to a place called Warlock, which sold a few metal items like patches, shirts, spiked bracelets and guitars… but we were most happy to find that it was also a rehearsal space, so we got to rehearse and write new Cauchemar material!

François at the Warlock rehearsal studio

The 24th of June was the Winter Solstice/Inti Raymi/Sun Festival. It is a religious ceremony of the Inca Empire in honor of the god Inti; the sun. The last real Inti Raymi with the Inca Emperor’s presence was in 1535, but then the Spanish conquistadors and the Catholic Church banned it due to its obvious pagan roots, opposed to the Catholic faith. The ceremony was said to indicate the mythical origin of the Incas, lasting nine days of colorful dances and processions, as well as animal sacrifices to ensure a good cropping season. Since 1944, a theatrical representation of the Inti Raymi has been taking place at Sacsayhuamán, (in the Inca time, it was in the city plaza) attracting thousands.

We were told it was impossible to see the ceremony, as all the seats were sold out… but we followed the locals and climbed a hill next to Sacsayhuamán to see it from a distance. We arrived there at 8AM, but found out the ceremony was only to be at 1:30PM! We had a great place, but we had to wait in the sun all morning to be able to witness the ritual. It wasn’t too bad as we were comfortably seated in the grass, and it was definitely worth it once the ceremony started! The sacred site was beautiful, and its stonework was absolutely remarkable (and in great shape!), for being built more than 900 years ago!

The beautiful ancient stonework of Sacsayhuaman

Dancing in Sacsayhuaman, at the Inti Raymi festival

A shitty long distance digitally zoomed photo of women praising the sun. Don't they look like egyptians or something? I thought it was really cool!

I took a video of the sun worshipping women walking unto the site:

The arrival of the Inca Emperor in Sacsayhuaman. In front you see the high priests (the guys with the funny hats). Sorry for the bad quality - again, I used a digital zoom for this photo.

The beautiful site, with ceremonial fire and costumed participants

The Inka Emperor worshipped the sun, drank chicha (fermented alcoholic corn drink) in its honor, and then the high priests chose a llama, opened it, took out its heart and guts and examined it carefully… blood gushing out signified that the crops were going to be bountiful in the following year!

The great priest holding the healthy heart and guts of a llama!

I also took video of that bloody sacrifice, but you can’t see too much because I was way too far. You can still kind of figure out what happens though!

Check out the crowd, it was impossible to leave the hill to go take a leak or anything!

Dead tired, we then went back home to our hostel and took a massive siesta. A few days after, we ventured into the Sacred Valley into the town of Pisaq.

Located on the Urubamba river, the village of Pisaq is most known for its artisanal market and its killer Incan ruins, which lie atop a mountain at the entrance to the valley. They were once used as a fortress to block the access to the Sacred Valley (one of many Incan fortresses). We arrived in town very early in the morning to skip the crowds at the market, and then started the ascension to the Inca ruins around 9AM.

We had to climb a series of Incan terraces at the beginning

The village of Pisaq, from the base of the mountain

François on the left, with magnificient Inca terraces on the right. Some of these terraces are still in use today, giving the locals better crops than usual at such high altitude!

A crazy steep hill overlooking the Sacred Valley...

...and the road we had to take to get there! If you fell, you were definately dead.

Ruins of Q'allaqasa, and the mountains of the Sacred Valley

Q'allaqasa, the citadel

A cool Inca drainage system

Intihuatana! It kinda looks like the Machu Picchu doesn't it?

The temple of the Sun

Myself in an Inca doorway haha

A very mystical François

At the very top of the highest mountain! It doesn't look that crazy here, but this is after 3 hours of climbing stairs and trekking in the mountains.

More terraces and ancient paths

Such a beautiful view...

Nobody knows exactly when the original town of Pisaq was built, but it is said to have been made not before 1440. Unfortunately, Pizzaro had destroyed it in 1530.

This week, we are going to keep on exploring Cuzco and on Friday, we will be starting our trek on the Inca Trail, to finally reach Machu Picchu on July 4st. Expect news in a bit more than a week! Cheers!

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5 responses to “Blood Ritual

  • Archiduquesa del Bravo

    What a beautiful review, makes want to go to Peru right now. Congrats on your trip. Hope some good experiences and new music for Cauchemar will come from your trip. Oh! and a new book on latinamerican food will be great! saludos!

  • Yvon

    ¡Hola y muchas gracias para permitirme de viajar con ustedes! Queríamos pasar un mes o mas en Perú. Ahora, después esta lectura, puedo confirmarleslo. El emplazamiento arqueológico de Ihihuatana es realmente magnífico. No lo conoci ante de leerles.
    Tengo prisa de seguirles al Machu Picchu.
    ¡Hasta luego !

    Yvon

  • Kayla Ding

    Yeah, c’est cool, le paysage est beau!!!

  • Jimmy

    Fantastic images!!
    I’ve been really enjoying the travel log.

  • Ian Christe

    Amazing, this is the most intense travel log yet ! Thank you for continuing to do this, keeping up the killer entries.

    All hail Annick and François, the new and more metallic Tintin et Milou, ha ha!

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