It was a major disaster for the people of Cusco, heavy rains had washed away people’s homes and cut off the city’s star tourist attraction, Machu Picchu. The economic damage was serious – as much as 60% of the local population work either directly or indirectly in the tourist industry and times have been tough of late with some $200 million in revenue lost and many tourist cancelling their trips completely oblivious to the other attractions Peru offers.
This difficult time ended yesterday with the reopening of the historic Inca retreat after urgent repair work was carried out on the railway line that brings tourists into the nearby town of Aguas Calientes.
At the end of the first full day open, Cusco put on a spectacular show, as Andrew Dare in Cusco reports:
The Empresa Municipal de Festejos del Cusco, staged a fantastic show in the grounds of Qorikancha to mark the opening of Machu Picchu after the January Floods closed the rail link.
Seating was prepared for about a thousand people, with many more watching from the road which was closed for the event.
After several video & slide shows showing the history & rituals of Machu Picchu, Luis Arturo Florez Garcia the Mayor spoke about the problems and action taken after the flooding in January. Then the minister of Tourism Martin Perez Monteverde spoke about the great work, first rescuing the stranded tourists at Aguas Calientes, & now with the restoration works completed & further works still continuing, round the clock.
Shortly after, the ceremony of Pachamama Raymi started – a Tribute to mother Earth.
Inca warriors led the Sapa Inca (the Inca King) to his thrown by flaming torch light, which was situated right on the edge of the great Granite walls of the Inca ruins themselves.
The Inca warriors then started a ceremony making offerings to Pachamama, the Mother Earth, later assisted by the Mayor & dignitaries, who also made further offerings to Pachamama.
Traditional dancing rounded off the ceremony in Qorikancha, and after the Sapa Inca departed, led out by torch light, the skies burst into a mass of colour as a fantastic fireworks show lit up the whole site.
Finally the crowd gathered round the fire to keep warm on what was a very cold night, hugging mugs of Hot chocolate, while a band played traditional music in the grounds below the temple. That’s when most people got to see the small statue in front of the band & realise was it was – a replica of an Inca Mummy sacrifice from the Museum!
The city of Cusco and all involved, put on an really incredible show, marking what is the next chapter in the continuing history of Machu Picchu.