Category Archives: Peru

Friends of Hell

In the last three weeks we stayed in Lima, taking care of traveling paperwork and research, as well as waiting for our Chinese Visa – which thankfully arrived one day before our departure!

Obviously, we were very active in other ways – we didn’t stay locked in our home for the whole rest of the stay. One thing we wanted to do is visit pretty much all the metal shops we could find in Lima. The obvious place is Galerias Brasil (Av Brasil 1275, Jesus Maria neighbourhood), which everyone recommended me before coming to Lima. It is a two floor commercial center with many stalls selling anything from really nice quality bootleg shirts to fanzines, original CD’s, bootleg CD-R’s, tapes, vinyls (used and new), spiked bracelets and patches. Honestly, it was a cool place but perhaps there were too many bootlegs to my taste. There were two cool shops here for record shoppers; Moving Sounds (which had a nice selection of South American Proto metal and a nice used vinyl section at extremely high prices) and Pentagram records, which is a local underground metal label.

Pentagram records owners, also members of HADEZ

The exterior of the shop with some nice shirts

Another cool place for records in Lima is the Quilca street, located in the very center. Jesus Mario Profanador Records (Jr. Quica 336) is one of the oldest record shops here, and has probably one of the best selection. The owner played on ANAL VOMIT demos and has been around in the metal scene since the very early 80’s. The store is super tiny but it has a nice variety; you can find recent extreme UG metal vinyls and CD’s, but also classic original NWOBHM/Heavy/Death vinyls like some SATAN, CELTIC FROST, MORBID ANGEL LP’s at more than reasonable prices (at least for us, foreigners)!!

Jesus Mario Profanador records interior

Jesus Mario Profanador records interior (more UG section)

The best thing about this place are the South American versions of known albums (ACCEPT, PRIEST, MAIDEN), with everything translated in Spanish! Check out this gem:

Balls to the Walls cover (notice they added the ACCEPT logo on the sleeve)

The song titles translated in Spanish. “Contra la pared” means “Against the wall”... I guess they couldn’t grasp the poetic meaning of “Balls to the Walls” hahaha

Unfortunately I couldn’t buy any as I was really tight on space, but they are still there if anyone is interested haha. And they are like 10$ each!

Another interesting place on the same street is the Quilca Shopping Center (Jr. Quilca 257) which had a cool shop selling only original CD’s from Peruvian bands.

JR Records – National rock

They also had a few others selling strange bootleg shirts, patches, and some bootlegs.

We also went to a few gigs. First one was our first (and last!) South American punk gig at Nuclear Bar; which featured some D-Beat, Crust and Hardcore bands – as well as ELECTROZOMBIES from Chile (a cool band mixing doom, crust with death metal!) Outside of the venue I had a huge surprise – a friend of mine from Montreal was there!!! In fact, that very friend helped me to plan my trip at the very beginning, and we were supposed to meet sometime in South America (we were traveling there at the same time) but our itineraries never matched so we gave up on it haha… and we met at the same gig here!

Karine and myself! Karine has also been traveling all over South America for months

Necromongo, a hardcore band featuring Marcos from Reino. These guys had so much energy live!!

Electrozombies. They played more of a punk set, but it was really good – much better than the recordings I heard. They played a Venom “Countess Bathory” cover, but super slow. It was a great set really!

The next day, at a strange venue (Socialist Party meeting place??), we witnessed once again ELECTROZOMBIES, but this time with Reino Ermitaño and Caballo de Plomo. The place was weird as hell but the ambiance was festive and the sound was actually really good!

Flyer of the gig on the closed entrance door

Caballo de Plomo – during their set, the light went off and it was really cool! People lit their lighters, tried as best as they can to light them with their cameras... haha

The crowd of the place halfway through the show

Reino, which played a bone chilling set!

Julio and Eloy of Reino Ermitaño

Electrozombies! The power cut off entirely after perhaps 20 minutes of them playing. Sucks to be coming all the way here from Chile and then shit like this happening haha

I recorded a full Reino Ermitaño song so you guys can see the genius of this band! Honestly, these guys are SO GOOD and original!

A few days later, we hung out with a French couple that we had met earlier in our trip in Cordoba, Argentina. They were in Lima for only a few days so we went to the center together and tried some local goodies. There’s a park that turns into foodie heaven in the evening… over there, we tried Picarones for the first time. They are some kind of yummy Peruvian donuts made with squash purée and served with some sweet syrup. The stand we went to in particular is very famous apparently:

Picarones Leonor. We had to wait 30 minutes to get our picarones!

The woman totally changed since they took a photo of her for her sign huh? Haha

The plate of golden picarones. They were worth 30 minutes of waiting.

We also tried some other sweets, like “Leche Asada”, which is the Peruvian version of crème brûlée. In fact, instead of being cream – they use milk. Now that was really really killer! I got totally addicted and had a few more after this hehe

Leche asada

We had some coriander tamales and some mazamorra morada + arroz con leche (again!) but no photos, sorry!

OK I admit, this month we really went crazy with food; everything is so delicious and fresh here, we wanted to taste as much Peruvian cuisine as possible… and besides, cuisine is culture! So what better way to discover Peru than by the fork? Haha

We went to a famous (and overpriced) place in Miraflores called Manolo’s. Kids often go there for their birthdays as they offer gigantic cups of ice cream with sparkling stick thingies. They had the craziest sandwiches I have seen so far:

Manolo’s sandwiches. You need like 3 mouths to eat one of those!

I had another Suspiro de Limeña there. That stuff is just amazing; it tastes like liquid sucre à la crème topped with super thick meringue. Yummy!!!!!!

Suspiro de Limeña

A cute dog sleeping in the Miraflores street, with a weird satisfied smile

There’s one thing we wanted to try before Peru, and that was its jungle food. We thus went with Tania and Julio at a typical jungle restaurant, Encanto del Amazonas. It was really good stuff, and tasted very different from other things we tried in Peru!

Tacacho con cecina. Tacacho is the green plantain ball filled with fried pork (left) and cecina is the smoked pork slice on the right. It was quite greasy I admit haha

Mix “sexy” plate with Juane de Arroz c/Pollo, Chorizo, Tacacho and Cecina. Juane de arroz is that gigantic rice ball thing, which usually comes wrapped in a banana leaf... that was the best thing of the meal I think!

Patacones, green plantain fried, smashed and refried. Ok, that too was amazing!

We then went to a land that Tania’s family owns – just to get out of the city for a little bit, and see the sun!

Rizzla, Tania and Julio’s super cute dog taking a siesta on Tania’s leg in the car

Over there we saw a very strange VOÏVOD style spider with lots of spikes and a hard shell. I tried taking an artistic photo of it… in reality, it was super small (perhaps around half a centimetre):

KORGÜLL THE SPIDER!

Rizzla again. She’s just too cute! She was totally happy to be in nature like that!

Close to that land of Tania’s there are local ruins, which we visited.

Tijerales sign with Julio

These ruins were from the Lima civilization, but what’s cool about them is that they are totally unknown. A search on the web will reveal absolutely nothing about this place! And it’s huge too!!

Tijerales homes, made of dried mud and totally destroyed over time

A “bookcase” style bricked wall

More ruins

Tania overlooking Tijerales

François in front of a crumbling wall

What made us really freak out about this place is the fact that there are still artefacts laying on the ground. Julio thought it was part of a cemetery – since you saw mostly bones, fragments of pottery, textiles and HAIR! And all that stuff dating 500-1000 years old. Really cool! Apparently there are tons of ruins like this all over Peru.

Dried human bones

Bones, hair, textiles

Textile with an interesting pattern

It was definitely something to walk around scattered dried human remains.

Last Monday we received our passports/Chinese Visa, and to celebrate, Marcos invited us to one hell of a killer gourmet restaurant in Miraflores, called Alfresco. Honestly, this place was just mouth orgasm after mouth orgasm! It was overwhelming, like the feeling of getting a huge package of killer metal albums through the mail, you know?

The meal started with an intense Pisco Sour. Drinking half of it made me already quite tipsy haha

As recommended by Marcos, we started with a ceviche Alfresco... which is extremely fresh raw flounder fish cooked in a sauce of rocoto pepper and lime, and served with a caramelized sweet potato. Best ceviche I’ve tried, hands down. This almost brought tears to my eyes! I wish I could have some now! I know I will never be able to have this again outside of Peru, but if one of you go to Lima, you have to try this one in particular.

Grilled octopus with lyon potatoes in onion comfit. I never liked octopus because of its rubbery taste, but that’s because I never had it cooked correctly. This one was braised to perfection. It was so good!!!!! I now can say that I am a total octopus fan haha

Details of the octopus. Such a colourful dish!

We then had some conchitas al parmesan; cheese covered scallopsThey were good, but perhaps they had too much cheese – it was a bit high on salt.

Tiradito – strands of fresh fish covered with a lime/coriander sauce, parmesan cheese and crispy octopus flakes. This looks like nothing but it was my second favourite dish of the meal. It was SO GOOD!!!!

Nikita ceviche – Tuna and salmon ceviche in sesame/lime juice. That one was a fusion of Japanese and Peruvian cuisine, and was super good, kind of like a cross between a ceviche and sushi.

Lightly seared salmon on mushroom raviolis, and served with lavender emulsion! WOW! This was totally killer. First time I have salmon so fresh that it was not cooked in the middle. It was absolutely delicious!

White fish with a cheesy prawn sauce. I don’t remember the name of this fish, but it was really nice and creamy.

Potpourri of desserts. From back to front: Tres Leches cake (three milks cake), crema volteada (flan), pie de Maracuya (passionfruit mousse pie), Chocolate brownie, and Suspiro de Limeña (see above).

After this, we were all ready to burst haha, it was such a feast! Thanks a million Marcos for bringing us there, wow, we owe you big time!

The next day (last day in Lima!) we went to cook some Poutine at Tania and Julio’s place. We had my parents send us Poutine sauce from Canada with our passports haha, so we could stop our cravings and share our own gastronomy (!) with our Peruvian buddies. We used organic potatoes and fresh Andean cheese, which to our horror DID NOT MELT! So our Poutine wasn’t a huge success, but it was still a good idea of the dish:

Peruvian style poutine

On their side, they made some Peruvian dishes we hadn’t tried yet:

Layered rice with egg (I totally forgot the name of this dish!)

Rocoto rellenos; stuffed rocoto peppers – a famous dish from Arequipa. These little hot-as-hell peppers were absolutely delicious! They were stuffed with juicy minced meat, cheese and hard boiled eggs. Thanks alot for this killer meal guys, now I have tasted everything I wanted to try in Peru!!! (Or almost, hahaha!!!)

In the evening, we took some last photos of our temporary Peruvian family, with whom we stayed for 1 ½ months:

François, myself with Manchita, Andres and Bati

Manchita, the best dog we’ve met in Peru! Such a cute personality. We’ll totally miss her!

Causa Limeña, my last ever Peruvian meal, offered by Bati. First layer of mashed potatoes-yellow pepper-oil-salt-pepper-lime, second layer of mashed avocado with lime juice, third layer of canned tuna with lime juice-salt-pepper, fourth layer of thinly sliced hard boiled eggs, and last layer of the same mashed potato mixture. The tuna can be replaced by cooked chicken.

Right now, we just arrived in Tokyo!!!! We are dead tired and need to rest after our 24 hours of flights!!! All we have planned now is to get some nice homemade Ramen noodles and sleep until the next day haha. Talk soon! Arghhhhhhh!!!!!

This post is dedicated to my good friend Terry Jones of Pagan Altar who was in the hospital for a while, and is about to get operated. Best of luck to you and support to the members of your band and family!!!

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Heading Out to the Highway

Our friends from Doom Metal/Heavy Rock band Reino Ermitaño; Julio (Ñaka) and Tania, invited François and myself to a small 4-day vacation tour to the North-Center of Peru. The goal of this vacation was to visit lesser known archaeological sites as well as try local cuisine. With Julio as our official guide (that’s what he does for living), we visited tons of interesting ruins, the sea side, a unique fog forest and some kickass sand dunes – all of that with an nice soundtrack of heavy rock and doom metal:

Roadtrip!!

Norcentral peruano car playlist:
Judas Priest – Unleashed in the East
Trouble – Trouble
Witchfinder General – Death Penalty
The Obsessed – The Church Within
Spirit Caravan – The Last Embrace Disc 1
Jerusalem – Jerusalem
Pappo’s Blues – Volumen 3
Color Humano – Color Humano
Cream/Jimi Hendrix compilation
Mazo – Mentenegra
Angeles del Infierno compilation
Ramones compilation
AC/DC – High Voltage
Reino Ermitaño – Veneration del Fuego
…and more!

We traveled a few hours until we reached the Sacred City of Caral, at 200km from Lima. The Sacred City is a large and well-studied site of the Norte Chico civilization (30th century BC to 18th century BC). What’s truly interesting about this place in particular is that it is the most ancient city of ALL Americas, with its 5000+ years old age! It was already a thriving metropolis at the time the pyramids of Egypt were being built! This was only discovered very recently. Due to this, all guides and history books had to be adjusted… crazy!

The Norte Chico civilization lacked ceramics and almost no art was discovered. They created monumental architecture, including large mounds/pyramids and circular plazas, and they were a peaceful society, as no trace of warfare has been found in the Sacred City of Caral.

Remains of the Caral pyramids in the arid Supe Valley

The ruins themselves were built differently than anything we’ve seen so far. They are made in a very primitive way, and the stonework doesn’t look as impressive as what we have seen in Inca structures. Of course, this is tremendously interesting anyway due to its antiquity and HUGENESS! The site was almost as big as Teotihuacan, in Mexico!

The first thing we visited was the Altar de Fuego, a fire altar, which they used for ritual ceremonies. Under it we could find a ventilation system which was built in order for the fire to be kept alive by the strong wind of the region. (You know, like when you blow on embers to start a fire). These guys were smart!

Altar de Fuego

One of the pyramids from up-close

Ancient civilizations had a habit of covering up completely their structures with sand or other material before they abandoned it. This would prevent other societies taking over and using the structures for worshiping of other religions and so. Before being discovered, the Sacred City of Caral looked like just a bunch of hills built of sand which seemed to be naturally part of the landscape:

Imagine those pyramids if they would be covered with sand; it'd be just other mountains in the background. No wonder they stayed hidden for thousands of years!

A half-buried pyramid

La Huanca pyramid, one of the major structures of the site

In front of this pyramid you can see a hieroglyph of a spiral carved on a stone, which inspired the new logotype of Peru. Check it out:

The infamous spiral stone

The new Peru logotype

This civilization ate some seafood/fish (we are at 25 km from the sea) but mostly squash, beans, lucuma, guava, pacay, and sweet potatoes.

Another view of the pyramid

There were all sorts of really cool artifacts on the site, like the following:

A long and thin rock, which was believed to be a sun dial (solar clock)

Not just a stone with holes; the holes here are the perfect replica of the stars. When filled with rain water, they become star mirrors!

A circular plaza, typical for this civilization. In this one, more than 60 bone flutes were found. I guess they loved to party!

The entire tour took 2 hours, and was really interesting! After that, we went to Barranca to eat some famous local food…

Some scenery from the countryside on the way to lunch

Another beautiful countryside scenery

So we went to a restaurant called Tato, a very famous place that is located straight on the seaside of Barranca. They specialize in a dish called “Tacu Tacu”; a fusion of Peruvian and Afro-American cuisine (African people were brought here for slavework centuries ago). Beans, rice and yellow pepper “tortilla” served on top of eggs and fish/sea-food with fried plantains. It sounds weird, I know, but it’s really tasty! It was originally a way of cooking leftovers, but it became a traditional dish:

Tacu tacu de pescado

And since we were located right next to the sea, François ordered a ceviche:

Ceviche with corn corb, sweet potatoe, yellow potatoe and cancho (fried corn).

Thanks to Tania’s father for inviting us to this meal, we really appreciated it!!! It was absolutely delicious!

After this, back in the car; we still needed to drive a few hours more towards the north to our next destination. Along the way, we saw some really really fantastic dunes so we had to stop:

The roadtrip car

François doing like in Judas Priest's "Heading Out to the Highway" video clip

Sand dunes!

Julio shooting from trenches

François and myself being very excited on the dunes!

An epic photo of Julio, "Desert Rock" style

The sun setting on the sand dunes

We drove for a few hours more, and arrived in the night at the Tortugas bay beach, where we found a hotel room. It was very rustic and the electricity of the entire city shut down at 11:30 at night! The stars were absolutely beautiful; we saw dozens of shooting stars. Also, for dinner that night, we had “baby bread”, which Julio sliced up with pleasure:

Baby bread, pan de wawa or something? I forgot the name haha

The Tortugas bay in the morning. Our hotel was right next to this beautiful beach! Apparently there were gigantic sea turtles on that beach, a long time ago. There aren't any now unfortunately.

The next morning we went to visit the ruins of the Sechin temple. Built in the archaic period (1600 BC), they were some of the coolest I’ve seen! The site is located in Ancash province of Casma and 5 km from the city of the same name. The weather is hot, dry and with little rainfall annually and the sea is about 10 km away.

But before we arrived on the site, we encountered a fruit seller which had some strange locally grown fruits, like the following:

Totally don't remember the name of this fruit, but it was very hard on the outside, kind of like a coconut

Peeling the skin revealed hard flesh with a soft sweet exotic taste

To make it even more Peruvian, typical pre-Inca hairless dogs were hanging out on the site. They were really bad-ass looking. Never saw dogs like this in real life before…

Filth hounds of hades! According to an old myth, the dogs are so hot that you can have them rest on your stomach to cure stomach pains haha

We then went to a cool little museum, which had some awesome ancient artifacts from the region:

Mummified tattooed hands. Tattoos were usually reserved for high members of the society like leaders and warriors.

Some remains of textiles

Awesome mummy. Never get tired of seeing those!

And then we saw some bone flutes; similar to what they found in Caral:

Bone flutes

These flutes made me think of this classic Morbid Angel artwork:

Leading the Rats!

The Temple of Sechin is a small one, but had a unique facade built with stone slab engraved with warriors in procession and decapitated bodies.

The front facade and the entrance to the Temple

What looks like hair or water is actually blood flowing from the body parts. Awesome!

The closed eyes signifies death. All the heads are decapitated here... notice the blood flowing from one of the eyes!

An awesome warrior with rows of decapitated heads

This temple was made with stone and clay (adobe), like most other structures from the same time.

Cut off limbs. Check out the bones sticking out from the arms...

Human guts!

Super cool warrior with trophy heads on the left. The weird squares are spinal cords, according to Julio.

ARRRRGHHH

There was a mirador (a little mountain with a nice view) that we could climb to see the ruins a bit better:

The temple from the top. It was used for religious ceremonies.

A view of the beautiful fertile valley from the top

After this, we needed lunch – so we drove to the port of Casma in search for ultra-fresh seafood. It was really sunny and warm; it was nice seeing the sun again! Lima is always full of fog and grey; I am becoming white again haha

François on the seaside

A close view of the port with sea birds (gulls and more giant birds)

Workers preparing fish for export

Fish heads anyone?

A family on the seaside

So we found an open restaurant, which only served fried fish – but caught only an hour or so ago. Julio had bought some fresh fish, which we brought to the lady cook to make some ceviche. Here’s what it looked like!

Ceviche of tiny fish

My plate! This fish was called "coco" and it tasted very very yummy and fresh!

Miaooow!

We asked the lady what else she had, and she said she could make ceviche de pato (duck with some kind of sauce) and guinea pig (cuy). I’ve been meaning to try cuy for a long time, so I ordered a plate for the following day.

The cuy awaiting for its destiny! Photo taken at the back of the restaurant.

The next day, we went to the beach, François and Julio swam a bit, and then we came back to the restaurant. Our food was ready in a few minutes:

Cuy! Amcash highland-style, with its potatoes. Notice the whiskers, still there! The red sauce is hot peppers mixed with garlic. To be honest, I could barely taste the meat because there was barely any. It was like eating frog legs or something! The taste was similar to the dark parts of chicken.

Cuy remains. I know, this is pretty disturbing to me too, even though I ate it.

Some mazamorra morada (purple corn pudding) for dessert in a Casma cafe.

On this fourth and last day, we went to the most recent ruins of this trip; the fortress of Paramonga. It is actually a temple, but when the Spanish saw it, they thought it was a fortress due to having towers on each side of the structure. Built in 1200 by the Chimú people, Paramonga was an important religious center built in the shape of a llama. We thought it was really strange because it seemed almost exactly like a medieval castle… and it was built around the same time too!

The Paramonga fortress

The entire fortress was colored in red, and according to some Spanish chronicler, the walls were painted with many ferocious animals and birds. Nowadays we can only see a little bit of paint left:

Wall of Paramonga

The bricks were made of adobe, thus they are very soft. I can't believe they have survived for so long!

François standing beside the "puma's head" (on the left)

Unfortunately, the stupid people that visit this place did alot of damage by carving their names on the wall. I mean, what the hell? They are destroying their own history! The names were everywhere…

Bricks damaged by name carving. By the way, this is an Inca door, like we saw in Cusco and Machu Picchu! A double frame indicated that the following room was an important one. The Inca took over this temple and built on top of it, but keeping the style of Chimu culture before them.

Tania, François and Julio doing some exploring

Some more walls of Paramonga

We then went to look for a nice lunch in some local restaurant. The specialty here is duck, so that’s what we had:

Arroz con pato; a killer leg of duck with coriander rice!

Tania's meal; seco de cordero - a very very tender sheep dish, served with beans and rice

Tania in a very very happy mood haha

We then did a bit of road again on the way back to Lima, and stopped by one of the coolest places I’ve seen in Peru so far… the fog forest of the Lachay Natural Reserve!

Just arriving there made me feel like I was in a Tim Burton movie… The area features a unique mist-fed ecosystem of wild plant and animal species which are located in the Yungas (hills between the coast and the Andes mountains). The mountains trap the fog, covering the area the majority of the year.

Arriving at the site. It felt like a forest on Halloween, or in a cemetery or something...

Evil looking trees

Creepy landscape...

A tree and a moss-covered rock

Closer look at the moss. It's so beautiful and rich looking!

Tania, François and Julio standing on a very mystical looking rock

The reserve features many trails for hikers; 20 minutes, 1 hour, 2 hours, etc… it’s even possible to do some camping and bbq in there!

The trail

Julio and Tania

Alternate cover for the first Black Sabbath album?

Some local vegetation

Moss/grass growing in the forest

Julio

More trees

Le cimetière des arbres

Close-up of a tree trunk

Yellow leaves against rich green vegetation

François

Leaving the park...

This was just absolutely mind blowing – the photos don’t do the place justice, it was truly a great experience to walk in this magical place! Reino Ermitaño actually did a photoshoot here for their first album; but unfortunately it was a day with not as much fog as the day we visited it:

Reino Ermitaño photoshoot in the national park

And if this wasn’t enough kickass, we finished the day by stopping at a traditional dulceria (a dessert place) in Magdalena – a suburb of Lima. Tania told me that this is the kind of place they’d bring Antony Burdain to. We ate 6 different desserts, which gave me an intense sugar rush, Cornholio style. Haven’t felt this buzzed off sugar since my young tender Halloween days as a kid!

Front: bead crums with mollasses and cheese. Left to right: Bien me sabe (almond and sweet potatoe purée), sweet bean purée (like in the middle of Japanese mochis!), manjar blanco (dulce de leche), suspiro de limena (like sucre à la crème with meringue on top!) and coconut cake.

Some of the sweets. Apparently it was quite empty because they had had tons of clients that day!

Some more stuff! I wish I could have tried everything!!!

And so the day and the mini-vacations ended… it was an absolute killer time, and I feel really grateful that we got to share it with Julio and Tania. Thank you for showing us some other faces of Peru!!!!! We will do the same when/if you come to Canada, of course!

Wooo!


Brujas del Mar

We arrived in Lima, Peru’s capital, 21 hours after leaving Cuzco. The bus ride was very difficult for the first six hours, as we were high in the mountains and taking sharp turns. I had to take two anti-nausea tablets; it was really really hard on the stomach! But that wasn’t the worst part… we were forced to watch at high volume an excruciatingly irritating Korean soap opera dubbed in Spanish called Escalera al Cielo. 15 hours of it. They stopped it at midnight and started it again at 6AM. And it made me crave kimchi on top of it. ARGHHH!!!!!!!!

We then headed to our hostel, located in Miraflores (a nice neighbourhood of Lima, located next to the seashore). Normally I don’t bother talking about our hostels because they are pretty simple and not very interesting, but this one was the worst we’ve been to EVER. The hostel is called “Mochilero’s Inn” and had reviews of 99.5% on the internet… we should have known it was a scam; there’s no way in the world this place could have scored higher than 30%. The room smelled like mildew, they were blasting music until 3AM, only two of the kitchen stoves worked, you had to wear shoes all the time because the floor was blackened with dirt (we had to wash our feet when coming out of the shower!), there was a big pile of pubes on the shower floor that stayed there for a few days, and the workers were smoking pot inside the hostel, which naturally came inside our room (our door wasn’t full – smell and sound came from underneath it). We also paid to rent for a towel, which was completely filthy. Oh yeah, one night we got locked outside for more than 30 minutes and when we checked out, they stole 15$ from us, which was a deposit we paid online to reserve the room (they never wanted to refund it). I should have taken photos of the place, it was out of this world! And it wasn’t cheap either – 20$ per night! We stayed there for 6 days, and then moved the hell out to a downtown hostel, which was 8$ per night for two. And much cleaner!

On the good side, Miraflores is a beautiful neighbourhood – and everything is close by. There are huge supermarkets, music shops and even an underground metal bar (which we still need to visit). The ocean is really beautiful… here are photos of it:

The pacific ocean by night

The pacific ocean by day

We spent the first few days of our trip taking care of some travel paperwork, eating, going to a gig (Hands of Doom/Reino Ermitaño), a Cobra rehearsal and spent the rest of the time resting in our putrid smelling room. We also went to Gallerias Brazil, which is a two-floor commercial center with about 10 rock/metal stores. It seems like alot, but they mostly carry bootlegs of CD’s, DVD’s, patches and some cool bootleg t-shirts. They of course have some original CD’s and vinyls, but mainly local stuff and a few imports. We spotted the Cauchemar/Condenados show poster at one of the stores:

Show poster at Pentagram records

Show tickets!

A really really funny Ozzy poster somewhere in Galerias Brazil

In front of Gallerias Brazil, in a small shack, we bought a nice hot quinoa/apple/cinnamon drink. It was so filling and delicious!

Quinoa drink. Miam!

Peru has many Asian restaurants, which resulted in strange mixes between Peruvian and Chinese/Japanese cuisine. Coincidently, I was craving Asian food so I took advantage of it…

This is “chifa”, a combo of Chinese and Peruvian food. Actually, we have this kind of stir fry in Canada too, but other stuff on the menu was different. The custom is to eat chifa with Inca Cola!

28$ worth of sushi. And the best damn sushi I ever ever ate in my life. We are going to Japan soon so the record will probably be beat, but ohhh... this was just absolutely mouth-wateringly delicious. I never had fish this fresh – it really makes a difference to be in a town next to the sea! The two first rolls of sushi you see on this photo are local specialities: on the left you can find deep fried sushi, and on the right; ceviche sushi! (Contains raw onion + salmon, and is topped with a corn sauce, hot peppers and some sea weed)

On Wednesday 13, our good friends from Condenados finally arrived to Lima! They were dead tired; having travelled 22 hours in a bus…

Condemned to sleep for eternity

Luckily for them (and us), Julio from Reino Ermitaño cooked us some nice typical Peruvian dish called Arroz con Pollo, which consists of pan fried chicken and a delightful veggie/coriander flavoured rice:

Julio in his doom metal kitchen

Home-made Arroz con Pollo!

Together, later on, we went to Coca Kinto bar (where our show was going to be at) for a nice Pisco Sour. I don’t know why I didn’t talk about Pisco Sour yet – it’s the best alcoholic drink of all South America!! Imagine a Key Lime Pie in a cocktail. Tiny lemons freshly squeezed, 1.5 oz of Pisco (strong grape alcohol), sugar syrup, crushed ice and raw (yes!) egg white. It’s absolutely delicious and I have been drinking many of them since I arrived in Peru:

A typical Pisco sour. You can make it with other things; Coca pisco, passionfruit juice, etc.

Matías (Condenados bassist) worshipping the mighty Pisco Sour!

Feeling crazy after the Pisco drinking session... you can also see here part of our downtown 8$ hostel room.

Lima is a really huge and chaotic city. Walking downtown on the side of the street is a nightmare… drivers here LOVE their honks. They use it to express every possible feeling. Taxis honk to you when you walk, and scream “TAXI!”… and sometimes follow you for a few seconds, trying to lure you in. The downtown part of really beautiful though, rich of old Spanish colonial architecture.

An old pointy building

A really strange sight! Police casino! WTF!

With Matías and Francisco (Condenados drummer), we went to visit the San Francisco monastery, which contains some famous catacombs:

Matías with his bellowed llama in front of the monastery

We couldn’t take photos inside, but I stayed behind during the catacombs part and was able to take some of the morbidity of the place on film:

Bone trenches, about 5 meters deep!

A beautifully morbid decoration, found inside some kind of well

Some old chandeliers in a creepy part of the catacombs

Dem bones!

Another kind of well

Chaotic pile of bones

We’ve been to Kutna Hora in Czech Republic and the Paris catacombs so we were a bit disappointed by the smallness of the Lima ones, but it was still interesting to see some in South America!

The visit made us hungry as hell (same thing happened when visiting the catacombs in Paris, don’t know why!) and so we headed to a restaurant downtown. For 2.5$, we had a really killer meal:

Papas a la Huancaina, a starter. I absolutely love those things... they are potatoes covered with a spicy sauce (yellow hot pepper/fresh cheese/ garlic) and served with a black olive and a piece of hard-boiled egg.

Seco a la Norteña, a piece of pork meat stewed in spices, with rice

Pachamanca a la Olla... the weirdest meal I’ve had so far in Peru! Plantain, potato, sweet potato, piece of chicken and huge beans, covered in a Spinach sauce. It looked like it came from a swamp or something! It was pretty good.

We were eating in restaurants all the time because we had no kitchen. We thus discovered the incredible gastronomic diversity of the city… every day we had 2$ meals and every day we were astonished by the quality of them!

Caldo de Gallina – a chicken soup, including an egg and spaghetti. This is good for hangovers!

Pollo a la Brasas – Peruvian roasted chicken. Some of the best chicken we’ve had! The spices were absolutely killer, and the chicken had juices flowing out of it when you cut out a piece. I’ve had similar chicken at “Les Deux Fours” in Montreal (a place to try if you live there!!)

Saturday 16th was the day of our gig. The venue, Coca Kinto, could hold about 100 people, and about 150 people filled it up… it was hell just trying to go take a leak haha. The place itself was kind of strange; white walls, art on the walls and the stage was directly on the floor. A weird place for a metal show, but the sound was really good! They also had the most luxurious toilets I’ve seen in a bar in South America. The man’s toilet was apparently destroyed after the gig…

A part of the decoration of the walls, a gigantic QUIPU! Quipus were used as a form of writing data in pre-Colombian Andean civilisations. Some can be seen in the “Les Cités d’Or” TV series if you remember.

First band was Madragora, which traveled 7 hours to play this gig. They play traditional heavy metal with a female singer which kind of danced like the vocalist of SANTA. They were good; but nothing original.

Madragora vocalist. Boobies anyone?

Next band was Caballo de Plomo, a sludge/stoner type of band. The members were only two, and the music sounded a bit like SLEEP. One song that lasts for a long time…

Caballo de Plomo

After came Cobra! The band plays some kind of mix between CLOVEN HOOF/SAXON/THIN LIZZY. They have an incredible stage presence, and really get the crowd going! The singer’s girlfriend was in the crowd and totally got crushed by it – which resulted in a bloody mouth. The band members are excellent musicians and their songs are catchy as hell.

Cobra vocalist!

Andres, guitarist

SOLO!

The insane crowd...

It was around 1AM when we got to hit the stage. We played our 5 songs and a MISFITS cover (London Dungeon!) which almost nobody recognized… haha! It was a good set, and I think the people really enjoyed it. I saw some people mouthing the lyrics… which was really cool in Peru!!! I don’t have any photos, but perhaps some videos will show up eventually on You Tube, as I saw a few people filming the set.

Next band was Condenados! Haven’t seen them since the Chilean tour, and as usual they crushed everything in sight. Their sound was really loud this time, and some neighbours of the bar complained… hehehe! The people reacted very well to the gig, and some said they were the best of the gig. Good for them!

Francisco, Fernando and Matías of Condenados

At 3:15 was the last band, Reino Ermitaño. I saw them the previous Saturday, and they absolutely kill live. François and myself have been big fans for years (we own all their albums, and even gave some as xmas gifts to family haha) and we were both times blown away by their set. Their riffs are pure magic, and everything is so goddamn heavy! Julio, the drummer, pounds like a madman and Tania, the vocalist, has a really psychedelic voice that gets straight to your soul. A true gem of a band.

Reino Ermitaño

Eloy, the guitarist

Marcos, bassist

The night finished at 4AM. We bought some more beer and drank in our hotel room until… well, I don’t remember! Haha! It was a great show, and I still can’t believe how many people showed up!! It will for sure be in my memory for a long, long time. Thank you Lima such killer support!!!!!

On Monday, Marcos (Reino Ermitaño bassist) called us up and asked us if we wanted to try ceviche. Of course we wanted to! I was waiting until we were in Lima – close to the sea, to try some. We went to a really killer restaurant in Barranco (a neighbourhood close to Miraflores – also on the seaside) and ate one of the most luxurious meals I’ve had so far…

Some kind of snack we had at the beginning; fried corn

A “mise en bouche”, some killer sea food bites

A Causa with olive sauce, stuffed with calmar. We had some on the Inca Trail which was stuffed with Tuna instead.

A gratineed scallop with butter and garlic. ORGASMIC when drenched in lime juice!

Fish ceviche! SO GOOD!!! It was to die for! I have been craving it since that day. It tasted absolutely fresh. To those who don’t know, ceviche is an an ancient recipe cooking fish using the juice of citrus fruits. A simple ceviche consists of extremely fresh fish (caught on the day, not served after 3PM), lime juice, salt, pepper and red onions. It’s like eating sashimi with lime. Really really good!

François’s meal; some kind of fish carpaccio with red and yellow pepper salsas. Delicious as well.

Marco’s meal; rice with seafood. I personally didn’t like it (it had too much of a “sea” smell and taste for me) but François said it was his favourite part of the meal!

As you can see, Peruvian cuisine is absolutely amazing. And on top of that, I still have TONS of things to try!!!

Later on that day, we went on to see Huaca Pucllana, some 1100+ years old ruins in Miraflores (built by the Lima culture, and used as a ceremonial place.) The place was unfortunately closed, but we could still see it from the outside… it was the first time I saw ruins like this; they were like ancient Lego pyramids of something! I will visit it at a later time and talk more about it. For now, here is a photo:

Cauchemarnados with Marcos in front of Huaca Pucllana

To top off this amazing day, we went drinking, again! This time, on the seaside in Barranco – blasting music from Marcos’ car. We made the Condenados guys try Jagermeister, which they got hooked on… maybe a bit too much haha!!

Francisco with his bottle of love

Mati!

Francisco and Matias

Francisco again haha

Thanks alot to Marcos for the amazing day… and to Julio and Tania for the Arroz con Pollo, and Mario Lachy for organizing the gig. Oh and the Cobra guys for inviting us to their rehearsal! All the guys that gave me fanzines, and Frank for buying us beer! Seriously, people here are so nice, it’s just unreal.

Now we have moved to yet another neighbourhood (we can’t always go to restaurants, I think we’d burst out of our clothes haha) so we are now in a room, which we rent from a family. We are located in Barranco near a supermarket and the main bus station – so we are quite happy!

We’ll be staying here for a month – until approximately August 20th. Then, we will begin the Asian chapter of our trip… flying from Lima to Tokyo! This month, I will be focusing my time on some projects; mainly Morbid Tales #7 and organizing the Cauchemar 2012 European tour. We’ll of course go to many shows, do some record shopping, more partying and cooking, but for now, we are taking a little rest. Hehe. Talk soon!


Mythical & Magical

Inca Trail playlist:
Bathory – Twilight of the Gods
Pagan Altar – Vol. 1
Pagan Altar – The Time Lord EP
Pagan Altar – Mythical & Magical
Judas Priest – Sin After Sin
Judas Priest – Stained Class
Judas Priest – Defenders of the Faith
Judas Priest – Turbo Lover (my dark secret haha)
High Tide – Sea Shanties
Acid – Maniac
Cathedral – The Ethereal Mirror
Saint Vitus – Children of Doom
Spirit Caravan – Last Embrace
Masters Hammer – Ritual
Black Death – Black Death
Sorcerer – Heathens from the North

****

Cuzco, July 1st. Happy Canada day! The company we booked to trek the Inca Trail/Machu Picchu with, Peru Treks, came to pick us up in a bus at our hotel at 6AM. We were to go to the beginning of the Sacred Inca Trail. It was raining pretty hard outside, and on the way, we actually saw SNOW!

Snow on the way to the Inca Trail. It’s the first time we see snow in South America, beside snow-topped mountains! Not a good sign!

Arrived to our destination, our guide made sure we have plastic rain ponchos, coca leaves and plenty of water. We were already acclimatized to the altitude, so we skipped on the coca leaves. We looked like a bunch of idiots with our colourful ponchos, but keeping dry is more important, obviously! This is what I personally looked at the very beginning hahaha:

Myself dressed and equipped for trekking in the rain! It was actually quite comfortable!

Our group. 16 trekkers, two guides and 20 porters (not seen here). We looked like a box of cupcakes haha

We started the trek at around 11AM. To reach the Inca Trail, we had to cross the Urubamba river to the other side:

The bridge of km 82.

The trail itself was pretty flat, with some ascending here and there. Already, we were seeing incredible sceneries with gigantic misty mountains and green valleys:

Beautiful valley

A little bit further and higher, you could see the Urubamba river again

Our guide told us that most Inca sites were made in the shape of sacred animals. The first one we saw, Llactapata, was apparently shaped in a Puma’s foot! He also told us that this site in particular was to guard the commercial Inca Trail (there are two trails – one Sacred and one Commercial, the later one is currently closed to the public after being destroyed by a land slide last year). It was never found by the Spaniards.

Llactapata

Ourselves with our beautiful cupcake suits

Hiking down to Llactapata

Some remaining foundations of Llactapata. These homes were in the rustic style, and were meant for the lower class.

All the tents, food, cooking equipment and some of our belongings were carried on by porters, which were absolutely impressive. They always ran (most often in sandals) in front of us to make sure everything was set up and prepared ahead of us…

A porter (on the left) and a beautiful Sacred Inca Trail scenery with misty mountains. These guys carried up to 25kg of stuff on their back!

When we arrived at our camp, a “restaurant” tent was set up and hot tea was waiting for us! What luxury huh? We were stunned by the absolutely intense food we were prepared everyday.

The table set in the restaurant tent for dinner

Some entrée the cook made for us, consisting of mashed potatoes stuffed with tuna and onions, and topped with a black olive. I don't remember the name of this dish, but it originates from Lima. It was delicious!

Various plates of delicious food served to us. The middle brown thing is Alpaca meat, served with fresh andean mint!

Garden vegetable rice, veggie salad, stuffed chicken, pork with sweet sauce... mmmm

Cake?? We were offered cake! And bananas flambéed in rum! I mean, I never expected to eat such quality food in the wild!!

The nice porters and cook. These guys were the best!

Our table set up for breakfast, on day 2

A beautiful plate of fresh fruits

PANCAKES!

My biggest discovery, food-wise on this trip! This is a breakfast food they were serving up, some sort of quinoa porridge. You just overboil the quinoa, add sugar and it makes a killer, nutritive and comforting morning drink!

Unfortunately, on the second day, our guide woke us up with bad news. Apparently, the unusual rain (it is supposed to be winter/dry season) has turned into snow on the highest point of our path, the Dead Woman’s pass (4400 meters of altitude). There were 60 cm (2 feet) of it, so it was dangerous for us to go through it. The last time it snowed was 6 years ago… Imagine the porters walking into that with their bare feet in sandals! Some other groups were walking back to the beginning, but thankfully our guide took us forward and made us do a detour through a train track. Therefore, instead of doing 11km on the second day, we hiked for 28km! But it was really easy – everything was very flat, and we got to see ruins that normally people don’t see. Beats climbing 1000 meters worth of stairs and then going down 550 meters!

So, we walked past Llactapata, crossed an eucalyptus forest and reached Qorihuayrachina and its beautiful terraces:

Qorihuayrachina and the Urubamba river

Along the way we saw many colorful flowers and incredibly green vegetation. The ecosystem was changing; we were hiking through what they call the “cloud forest” or high jungle:

Some yellow flowers.

A very colorful flower with a fly on top!

For lunch, we stopped at the ruins of Torontoy, which were again in incredible condition. They were a resting place for the Inca – who, in exchange for a night’s rest, had to give an offering (coca leaves, rocks, food, etc).

An entrance in Torontoy. Notice the big stone at the top of the doorway - it was placed there as a sign of importance.

Offering "shelves" in the walls of a temple in Torontoy

And the following we thought was really cool! This is where they put mummies of important members of their communities. The person was mummified in a fetal position and placed in the walls with several useful objects for them to use in the afterlife. They were mummified in a fetal position because they were supposed to be reborn as fetuses, obviously!

Mummy wall in Torontoy

After lunch, we still had 16 km to do. Fortunately, the rain finally stopped and we were able to remove our ponchos!

François hiking next to the train track

Some ancient staircase carved in a large rock

An orchid in the cloud forest

Urubamba rapids, in the cloud forest. Notice the strange rock formations at the back, due to erosion!

We arrived at our camp at around 5PM. Since we walked so much (48km in total), we were allowed to sleep in until 7AM the next day! Another total luxury! And the assistant guide came to wake us up with a steaming cup of tea:

Myself in the tent, half awake, with some coca tea

We ate breakfast, then quickly visited the ruins of Chachabamba since it was raining again. This place was once again a resting place for the traveling Inca. The construction of the houses made me think a little of old Canadian houses, or even houses found in Brittany (France)!

Chachabamba home

José (assistant guide), François, myself and Percy (our guide!) in the ruins of Chachabamba

After that, we proceeded to walk in the mountains. The path goes up, and the nature itself transforms into a rainforest ecosystem.

A porter with an incredible scenery once again

To enter your mountain
Go into your mountainside
To enter one’s mountainside
Will take its man

Who enters his mountain
With or without sword in hand
Who enters his mountainside
He will learn

The mountainside

A path through the rainforest

A beautiful natural rainforest waterfall

Some flower from the rainforest

Some other strange flowers

We were ascending many stairs to eventually reach our last camp, located near the ruins of Winayhuayna, in a lush mountain:

Winayhuayna in the very distance

Another ancient staircase in the rainforest

After a good 2 hours of hiking, we reached Winayhuayna – well, at least the gates of it. The view was absolutely mind blowing! I had to take a photo, which turned out to be more than epic:

Invoking the sun god Inti, in the Andes

Waiting for us was also a strange bug…

Some sort of small scarab?

After about 30 minutes more, we arrived at the living complex of the ruins. There, we found the same old Canadian style houses:

Some houses. Notice the door on the right, its opening has two rows of blocks. It means that on the other side is a temple or a very sacred place.

Some ceremonial baths that were still active!

A very happy François!

Winay Wayna living complex

Another view of Winay Wayna, with some terraces

There was an optional trail we could take to visit even more ruins. Of course, we took it – and so we ascended again many many stairs…

The view along the way

Percy, our guide

Some terraces, once again. These were build for growing food to bring to Machu Picchu.

I liked Percy's hat so much, that I had to steal it haha

Another view of the valley, near dusk.

Our camp for the night. The tents were really comfortable!

Next morning, we had to wake up at 4AM in order to walk the final two hours to Machu Picchu. We were heading to Inti Punku, the sun gate, in order to see the sun rise on the magnificient sanctuary…

Preparing ourselves to leave at the early hours of the morning

We arrived at the Sun Gate a few hours later, but we unfortunately couldn’t see the sunrise as everything was completely white with mist!!!

Us, waiting at the sun gate for the mist to clear out

After waiting for a good half hour, the mist eventually cleared out enough for us to see something…

View of Wayna Picchu, from the sun gate! This mountain is right next to Machu Picchu (which is hidden by clouds on the left). Apparently, Machu Picchu is supposed to be shaped like a condor.

After this, we did another hour of hiking (this one was probably the hardest of all the hike – it was non-stop ascending on huge rocky staircases!) and we finally reached our goal….

Machu Picchu!

Machu Picchu, surrounded by Wayna Picchu and other beautiful mountains. I left this photo in high res in case anyone wants to use it for whatever reason...

Two very happy hikers!

To view Machu Picchu like this, for the first time, shrouded in all of its mystery, was quite something. In fact, it really felt like we were on a movie set; everything looked so out of this world! We were absolutely stoked!!!

Stepping inside the sanctuary was like a dream… the ruins were still in very good condition (again, the Spaniards never found this place when they conquered Peru) and it even surpassed my expectations. The surrounding mountains made it even more magical…

Inside Machu Picchu

The temple of water, a large room with a fountain, where they worshipped water!

Committing fashion crime in Machu Picchu. I had to, I swear! My feet were covered in nasty penny-sized blisters.

The temple of the sun, located in the heart of the sanctuary. Notice the beautiful stonework, it took up to three weeks to polish each stone!

A strange fly hanging out on the ruins

A cave named "The Royal Tomb"... although no mummies were ever found there!

Some more stonework, around the temple. Everything was made so precisely...

This is how the roof was attached to the homes - using ropes

Residential complex

The royalty sector (at the right)

Another double-walled door, which warns that the other room is a sacred place.

We even saw a chinchilla on the site! It wasn’t very scared, we could go close to him and it wouldn’t move at all!

Chinchilla!

Located on the center of the sanctuary is the plaza:

Walls of the plaza. Unfortunately, water has greatly destroyed that wall over the years.

Room of the Three Windows (although you only see two!), a place dedicated to Inti, the sun god

The Intihuatana stone, which is arranged to point directly at the sun during the winter solstice. To those who remember "Les Cités d'Or", there is an episode where you see this very stone! It is also located directly in the center of magnetic fields. Apparently, if you touch the stone, you will feel some kind of strange energy. The small carving on the right points to a mountain:

One of the many sacred mountains protecting Machu Picchu

What impressed me about Machu Picchu is that the architecture is in perfect harmony with nature. Sometimes the Inca would leave rocks on purpose in honor to pachamama, or construct terraces along the curves of the mountain. 550 years later, it still looks stunning.

Rocks left on the site. They carved stones for the houses and temples from them.

A wall following the curve of the mountain. You will notice that there are often three things (three "windows/shelves" in this case). It is an important number in Incan symbology - it means the snake (underworld), puma (overworld) and condor (cosmos).

A condor shaped rock. There was another cave and some kind of secret passage underneight it.

Some homes

Rustic-style foundations

And finally, the sun came out, in order for us to fully appreciate the ruins…

Inti!

After our guide finished showing us around, I collapsed from tiredness and did a magnetic siesta on the main plaza’s park.

Siesta time

That’s it for our intense and inspiring adventure in the Andes… It was a great trip, and as you could see, seeing Machu Picchu was only the cherry on top!

Right now, we are have just arrived in Lima, having traveled 20 hours from Cuzco. The ride was comfortable, but they played a really annoying Korean tv series called “Escalera al Cielo” for 15 hours! Arghhh, pure torture!

In any case, we are getting prepared for our gig with Condenados, Reino Ermitaño and Cobra on the 16th. If you are in town, don’t miss this – it promises to be one hell of an event!

Cauchemar/Condenados en Lima!


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!