QuickPeek: Inti Raymi. Night out. Indigenous celebrations.

So Stella mentioned about a ceremony honouring Pachamama (Mother earth) which got linked with the Incan Solstice festivities called Inti Raymi. Inti Raymi is a popular festival in Incan lands, mainly in Paru, where they celebrate the arrival of winter at the June Solstice. However, the Inca had not been too long in these parts of Argentina but they adopted the naming and keep vigil overnight for the Sun to come up.

We thought it would be a great idea to visit a ceremony and we heard that outside a small village called Huacalera, the Tropic of Capricorn runs and that’s the point where the sun take a a turn up north for the rest of the season. This being the longest night and we heard that locals gather and keep vigil over night with some music and dancing. Lucia added more info to us and I checked on the specifics with the tourist office and we decided to head out and keep vigil with the locals, all night long!

We met a French traveller at Stella’s and he was also interested and we synced up to head north. The route was also a good idea because it would let us access the Rainbow monuntains of El Hornocal from Humahuaca. Sweet. We packed up, bid farewell to Lucia and walked to the bus station to meet Cedric. Cedric was a nice chap and good to hang out with. We got a mini bus which charged us slightly higher than normal prices, but it wasn’t too bad and we took it.

It was an hour long ride and we arrived in the dark at the Solar clock at the Tropic of Capricorn. A bunch of locals had set up a couple of pretty good fire pits and it was nice and warm to start. There were a few other tourists there, but all of them pretty respectful and generally a culturally sensitive bunch and it was a nice gathering, Not too crowded, but at the same time enough people to have a nice time with.

It was to be an overnight vigil and the indigenous communities had a tradition where every couple of hours something would happen and we’d have to join in and that kept pretty much everyone awake. There was a bit of loud music and the ceremonies started with some offerings to Pachamama and continued along with some music and dancing and socialising. Some people were telling stories and sharing their heritage. It was fun.

The weather, however, went from cold to freezing and it was pretty tough conditions to be out and about. I suppose the longest night was also perhaps the coldest, heh and one had to stick at an optimum distance from the fire and warm up different parts of the body evenly, but at the same time avoid singeing loose clothes or the skin. I pretty much got on to every piece of clothing I had and in the end I was left with some freezing feet. My closet was designed to be able to ride or hike in cold weather and not sit around, heh.

The vigil was tiring, especially due to the cold conditions, but the locals were well prepared and made some warm chicha and kept up with activities to keep people moving about. Sweet!

The morning came and it was colder than the night and when the first rays of sun hit us, it was indeed a welcome gift from the gods. The sun soon warmed us up and this being the first sun of the year, some more ceremonies followed. It was overall a lovely experience and fun to hangout even though it was cold and the lack of sleep was tiring.

Once most of the festivities were over, we decided to hear to Humahuaca to find a place to sleep and also be able to be close enough to make a trip to El Hornocal. We had to wait a couple of hours before we got a bus and I snoozed all the way to town. Once in town, we found the first cheap hostel and bunked in for the day. I was pretty sleepy, but decided to stay up during the day to avoid any jet lag. Humahuaca was a pretty small town and was choke full of souvenir shops. But for one deciding to stay in and relax, it didn’t make any difference 🙂

Track Notes

Expenses: SG$ 25.45
Comments: A midnight vigil to make sure Sun came up this morning. You fellers better thank me.