Carnival in San Blas- Tilting Saints and Drag Queens That Dance for Beer

February 23, 2016

On our last two nights in Cusco the carnival was getting into swing in the San Blas neighbourhood. The main square had two sound stages and multiple beer and food vendors. There were lots of partyers drinking beer, eating anticochos, guinea pig bits and corn extrusion products. We spotted a man dressed in Andino drag. He was acting like it was just for laughs. However,  many a truth said by a man in a dress so we went up for photos.

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Despite all the beer being sold, there were no Johnny’s on the spot. We figured out where the beer was going by our noses after David saw a woman squatting on the pavement in front of the church while a man relieved himself on the wall. Peruvians are practical and informal.

One man started chatting David and I up. He then pulled us on the dance floor and passed a girl over to each of us. My Peruvian girl was not impressed by my dancing or anything else about me (she obviously never saw Rick Moranis or Woody Allen) and refused to even hold my hand. David’s girl on the other hand was into him and would not let him go.  It was a great scene, beer bottles being dropped, boys kissing girls, loud music, messy dancing and a little bit of urine smell wafting over from the Church.  To hear some Andino music check out China Maria and  Cusco Carnival Music.


On February 6, we were tired from a day trip to Moray combined with stomach upset from something eaten the day before.  On our way back to our Air BNB Apartment we saw a crowd gathered on a side street around a large statute of a bearded man on a platform. Tilo sensed a photo opp while I sensed a chance to buy sweet popcorn.  In the front were kids followed by young men, the band and the onlookers. The men would lift up the Saint while the kids would take the platform up the road to the next stopping point. Grunting and groaning the men would carry the saint to the sound of the band. The saint listed from side to side while hitting overhead wires despite the efforts of a man wielding a long stick. It was a happy atmosphere and everyone had a role from the young kids, to the old ladies handing out sandwiches and throwing flower petals and advice.

There were no paramedics on site, police lines or barriers to prevent protect people from potential hazards and municipal governments from lawsuits. Despite the lack of Vancouver style precautions (which usually outweigh the festivities) we did not see anyone one got electrocuted or crushed.  To get  a sense of the procession you can see this video clip of San Blas being carried and of the tilting saint. Tilo got some great photos which will be put up on Tilo’s Flickr page.

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1 comment

  1. Comment by Paulo

    Paulo Reply February 27, 2016 at 12:15 pm

    Too funny. Your smile says it all.

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