From the Road: New Years In Cusco, Peru
Cusco, Peru is a quaint little town located near the Urubamba Valley of the Andes mountain range and is also a major gateway to Machu Picchu. After Christmas 2012, Jeff had invited me to come down to Ecuador and spend new years with his family. As soon as I arrived in Ecuador, the Johns family had decided to make an impromptu trip to Cusco, Peru. Jeff’s dad, Todd, had lived in Cusco over 40 earlier as a Mormon Missionary and had always wanted to bring his family to Cusco and share his memories. I was excited and honored to come along on the trip.
Once we arrived in Cusco, I was inspired by the traditional feel of the town. The center of the town is the Plaza de Armas with two huge Cathedrals on two sides. The city was made of all cobblestone streets which made it feel ancient; you could feel the Inca heritage. In 1983, Cusco was declared a World Heritage Site because it was the capital of the Inca Empire.
This little ancient town had a hidden New Years surprise in store for us. We just happened to be there on New Years Eve. We did some reading and learned that the Cusco isn’t just a sleepy town when it comes to the celebration of a new year and ringing in 2013 wouldn’t be any different. For new years, the town gathers in the Plaza de Armas where everyone drinks and dances all night. Everyone wears yellow which represents change and rebirth. Some people even carry suitcases with them symbolizing success and travel in the new year. At the strike of midnight, everyone runs around the Plaza de Armas for good luck.
Once we got to the Plaza de Armas everything hit us at once. There were so many people and fireworks going off everywhere. The whole square was shut down and people were drinking and celebrating in the square. There was a large stage set up in front of one of the Cathedrals and a band playing. Before we know it the countdown had begun. Three… Two… One… then chaos. Jeff grabbed my hand, and we all ran around the Plaza de Armas. Sometimes we were running as fast as we could and other times we were stopped in a mass crowd of people who were all pushing forward to continue their journey around the square. There was broken glass on the ground from people throwing bottles and fireworks going off at our feet, but the experience was unbelievable. It was chaotic, crazy, but beautiful all at the same time. No matter if you were a Cusco local or tourist, everyone became united. It didn’t matter who you were or where you were from, everyone had a fresh start to a new year.
In my opinion, the New Years celebration in Cusco, Peru is one for the bucket list. There is so much culture and inspiration in this little ancient town. Cheap flights from Lima make this a very easy stop once in the area and LAN Airlines has flights daily.
Watch us run around the Plaza de Armes like crazy people!
As a maturing women, Marina has dedicated her life to travel and new experiences. After working a 9-5 cubical lifestyle, Marina sold everything she owned, left her job and begun a new life with her boyfriend and travel companion, Jeff Johns. Together they relocated to Phuket, Thailand and founded Latitude 34 in which they seek to share their alternative lifestyle with the world.
Marina is a Visual Journalism graduate of Brooks Institute of Photography where she studied photography, videography and ultimately caught the travel bug. Through creating several international documentaries, Marina realized there was more to the world than work and wanted something more.