Cusco came alive last week as locals and tourists packed in the city center to observe religious and cultural processions, music concerts, fireworks, and fairs. While many were abuzz about the Catholic Corpus Christi procession, the sun festival Inti Raymi, and Cusco’s anniversary, those in the know were flocking to an important agricultural fair in the Cusco suburb of Huancaro. As a last minute change to Thursday plans, the director of Colegio Pacca invited us to join the teachers and a group of 15 older students for a visit to the big fair in place of sports and English classes.
In addition to seeing prize-winning animals, textiles, and fruit and dairy products the girls were to be talking to “cuy,” or guinea pig, experts about best practices for raising the cuy for food. The visit allowed enough time to return to city center and see the final saints process for Corpus Christi.
As exciting as this was, the girls and teachers were exhausted and hungry. We spontaneously invited all 30 of them to our small San Blas apartment for a respite from the crowds and a snack of delicious empanadas, a popular savory pastry here. Refreshed by the food, we put on some music and started dancing. First, Margie introduced the basics to American swing dancing and then the Pacca teachers and students taught us how to dance the rhythmic Saya and Huayno dances, which are unique to Peru. This was by far a break from our regular routine but the cultural exchange was fun for all involved!