Last weekend I had two experiences that would have been the stuff of a claustrophobic nightmare! The first was a trip to the fireworks last Friday in Plaza de Armas. I went with a few of the PROMESA teachers to the VERY packed square. Before the fireworks there was a concert going on that had drawn out more than the usual amount of firework gazers. These fireworks were to celebrate Cusco Day. I'm not sure if they were connected to Inti Raymi* which was celebrated on Sunday. Anyway, we couldn't get anywhere near to the stage and it was quite a chore to make it around the square. Jessica and Alisha wanted cotton candy (dulce algodon) but it was like we were swimming in an ocean of human bodies. The actual firework display was pretty good and was set to music. I'm sure I've seen better 4th of July displays (like Sam's famous Magnet Works display...hee hee) but the best part was the reaction of the crowd. I don't know if we had kids behind us but there were tons of enthusiastic "oohs and ahhhs" all around. It was great!!!
What was not great was getting out of the plaza!! Everyone seemed to have the same idea about getting out quickly in order to get public transportation because again the human sea ensued. It was worse because people were pressing in from all around and you had to keep walking because people behind you were pushing you along. It was so scary! The whole time I was praying: "Lord, please don't let anyone get trampled!" I couldn't imagine having a child in that place. I could just picture how horrible that amount of people would be in the case of an emergency. Augh... it was horrible and then we were out and safe. Yay God!
My other claustrophobic situation was made worse by the addition of 3 dozen eggs. I was coming home from church in San Jeronimo and I got on the "city tour" bus (we call it that because it goes all over the city). Someone had given eggs as part of their offering and they were being sold to raise money for the church. So I was taking home 3 dozen eggs. I made the wrong choice to sit in the back of the bus. Well, the bus seats were all filled up and by the time we got to Magisterio (where I live), the aisle was blocked up with people standing. It was a busy day for public transportation because many people were heading out for the Inti Raymi* festivities. Well, I had to push my way through all those people on the moving bus with my three dozen eggs in order to finally get off. It was quite a feat and thankfully I didn't lose any eggs! phew! I also had my bible and two packages of coffee shoved into my purse (thankfully it fit). There are sometimes when a taxi really is the best option!!! :0)
*A note about Inti Raymi
Inti Raymi is the ancient Incan festival during winter to invoke the sun to shine more and warm everything up. It seriously is a very pagan festival based on Sun worship! Still, it is a point of contention amongst the evangelicals here. Can they participate in it and just simply view it as a cultural thing? Many also have the added problem of having to pay fees if they don't participate in city holidays by marching or whatever. Many of the university students are forced to march regardless of whether they want to or not. An evangelical here has to be pretty convinced in their convictions in order to trust God to provide the fees that they'll have to pay for not participating in a holiday. North Americans don't have that added pressure. They can be wishy-washy about the so-called pagan holidays and it doesn't cost them anything either way. Pastor Ruben was calling the people of the church to stand up and to refuse to be a part of the festivities. That's not an easy request! May God give the evangelical person here in Cusco the courage to do what is right and to trust that God will take care of them financially!