Semana Santa, or Holy Week, Latin Americaâ€™s most important religious holiday, begins on Palm Sunday and culminates on Easter Sunday. Ayacuchoâ€™s celebrations are amongst the most traditional. Spectacular processions are accentuated by flower-carpeted streets and ninatoros (bull effigies with firework horns). Scents of incense, gunpowder and bonfires mingle with aromas from street vendorsâ€™ stall offering chorrizo ayacuchano (a savory pork sausage served with potatoes and salad), pisco punch and mazamorra de llipta (a milk and corn drink). Canticle songs in Spanish and Quechua weave through cerulean daytime skies and starry nights.
For 10 days, beginning the Friday before Palm Sunday, fervent Catholic faithful crowd Ayacuchoâ€™s streets. They share the joys and sorrows of the last days of Christâ€™s life: His Palm Sunday arrival on a white donkey, accompanied by 12 devotee â€śapostlesâ€ť and 300 llamas and donkeys. Good Friday night, beneath the light of a thousand candles upon statuesâ€™ palanquins, they mourn his death. His resurrection on SĂˇbado de Gloria is celebrated with horse parades and bull runs through Ayacuchoâ€™s streets and a huge fair on Acuchimay hill. Dancing and drinking until dawn follow while awaiting the appearance of the resurrected Christ statue.
As Semana Santa often draws tens of thousands of visitors to Ayacucho, it is important to make hotel reservations months in advance. The tourism office also keeps names of families renting rooms.
In or near Ayacucho, you can visit Barrio Santa Ana, Museo ArqueolĂłgico HipĂłlito Unanue, Museo de Arte Popular, Ruinas VilcashuamĂˇn and BaĂ±os Intihuatana, and Complejo ArqueolĂłgico Wari.
Upon re-declaring her independence at age 29, Lorraine Caputo packed her trusty Rocinante (so her knapsack's called) and began...