17 Jul

There we were. A day after touching down in Cusco, amid crowds in Placa de armas, the central square. 100 years since the rediscovery of Macchu Picchu. Under radiant skies, gulping lungfuls of air, at high altitude; our bodies needed to adjust. Masked dancers twirled about us. Adorned in fine fabrics of gold and sapphire blue, men wore grotesque comical masks, some black and shining in the andean sun, fixed grins, like whirling gargoyles.

Others wore pink masks, noses jutting forth into the sky, their painted eyes exhibiting a deranged glare. Music played all around us, pipes and drums. Masked Women spun in traditional garb; hats, tunics and skirts billowing. We set up, pushed through crowds, got close to the performance, close enough to duck the dancers flailing arms. Police looked on sternly but did nothing. The colours were kaleidoscopic, if only for lack of air.. We climbed up to a balcony to get a clearer view. The square was swarming, the music echoed off church walls. Day one.

After that we filmed markets. The lugubrious faces of stall holders, mostly older women whose faces hung limp and condemnatory at the sight of our camera only to bloom and laugh once we turn a corner. Rule 1: Peruvians do not like being filmed.

We caught San Blas, the old colonial district. it’s white painted, tortuous alleys evoking Granada’s Albaicin. Cobbled streets pressed into my feet, a days walking and filming, eyes searching for the next shot. It was fun, but tiring. Every night we planned to go out, hit the town, but we ended up sleeping. Maybe it was the thin air.

On Monday we scaled the hill to Sacsayhuaman. Shot Inca ruins, the smooth grey stones slotted together like a puzzle. Straw coloured slopes swelled around the ruins, eucalyptus trees fringing the hilltops. A collosal Jesus stood mounted above the city. We watched (and filmed) the sun setting. City lights sparking and flourishing below us. A time lapse film. All caught on camera.

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