The experience we had last night celebrating New Year’s in Cuzco was nothing short of amazing. I don’t think there’s a way to transfer energy or adrenaline through a written account, but the only thing in my life that’s come close to the energy I felt last night was Mardi Gras or after the Giants won game 2 of the 2010 World Series at home. I’m not too good at estimating crowd sizes, but I’m guessing somewhere around 75-100K last night in the Plaza de Armas. Take a look at this picture and let me know what you think, realizing that you’re only looking at a portion of the Plaza.
Our night started with a great dinner at Cafe Yanapay with 30-40 friends and volunteers of Aldea Yanapay. We sat with our housemates, Melissa and Neil (New York), and their friends from Belgium. Another couple from Australia joined us after dinner — Aussies are a hoot. Actually, everyone has just been incredible, particularly to Cade.
After dinner, the restaurant turned into a mini-disco, which was awkward for me with my 13 year old son. Again, everyone was so great and made us feel so much a part of their “family”. The group finally sauntered over to the Plaza, which was a mass of people and random fireworks being thrown around. Definitely something you’d never see in the U.S., but made for a very festive atmosphere. At times it felt unsafe, but I never felt threatened, and Cade seemed to understand how cool it all was.
I would say that Cade’s focus wasn’t totally on the fireworks as we approached the Plaza. During dinner, our new Aussie friends told Cade that it was tradition for a tourist to run around the square 12 times at midnight of the new year…in their underwear. Cade thought it sounded cool, and for some reason committed to uphold the tradition of no one else was already doing it. Needless to say, Cade was committed to find someone running around the Plaza in their underwear, and was relieved to find a group of gringo’s already in the massive conga line in their underwear. You might be able to pick out the shirtless young man in this grainy picture I quickly shot. Some might think it looks something like Cade down there, but I’ll never tell.
The party for the Yanapay crew continued to Yuri’s apartment, and Cade and I stayed for about 20 minutes before calling it a night and walking home.
Sunday was another day to sleep in, even though fireworks continued to be set off well into the morning (a huge cherry bomb went off right next door at about 11am). The people of Cuzco definitely like their fireworks, an we saw countless little kids with firecrackers and lighters in their tiny hands.
We went to a sports bar, Norton’s, by the Plaza with our party friends from the night before to watch some NFL football. Norton’s is nice in that it’s on the 2nd floor with a partial view of the Plaza and great open, natural light. Service was marginal, but I really enjoyed my 1:30pm breakfast (desayuno). There we watched a great game between the Packers and the Lions, which ended up being something of an historic game with the teams combining for the most passing yards ever in an NFL game, and was the first time both QB’s in a game threw for 400+ yards and 4 TDs (they both ended up with at least 5). Also was great because there was a guy at the bar from Lansing, Michigan wearing his Detroit Lions and Tigers gear. John Mauro has been in Peru for 4 months, primarily teaching young girls math in some of the small hill towns around Ollantaytambo under the program Sacred Valley Project. If you have a chance, follow John at his Math and Motorcycles blog, as I think he’s doing some really incredible work that deserves a post of its own from me.
We ended the night with a nice dinner at Inka…fe, a clean and quaint cafe on Choquechaca almost across the street from the popular Jack’s Cafe. One of our housemates, Kara, a Spanish teacher from Chicago joined us. We had Lomo Saltado again, and Kara turned us on to a great chocolate tasting milkshake thing. Cade topped off his dinner with a delicious chocolate cake and ice cream. Yummy!
Tomorrow begins the philanthropic part of our visit, which I’m really looking forward to. I’ll have more information on what we’ll actually be doing in tomorrow’s post.