Last day of Carnival in Cusco. Mayhem.

Today was the last day of celebrations for Carnival in Cusco, and while it may not rival the massive world renowned festivities of Rio de Janeiro, there was certainly enough mischief and mayhem to go ’round. Of course there was! This is Cusco, where everyone loves a party – and apparently water balloons.
Yep, over the last week small, colorful aqua bombs have been flying with reckless abandon through town. No harm intended, it just offers everyone the opportunity to return to their mirthful nature of years (ahem) past. It also offers everyone the opportunity to work on his/her not-so-catlike reflexes…
But today, my friends, was the pinnacle of Carnival chaos. Cusco gone mad with water, some sort of spray foam that is relatively innocuous when sprayed in the face (yes, I can attest to that), and the ever popular shaving cream.
My day started out innocently enough: the sun made a much needed appearance this morning so I went out for a hike in the mountains above Abra Corao with a friend. Steep uphill along sharp ridges, great views, and a nice descent back into town past the Temple of the Moon. It was when we had a clear view of the main road up to Saqsayhuaman that I noticed the street was completely wet…strange, since it hadn’t rained at all that day. It made more sense when I saw the roaming gang of children unleashing a steady water balloon, water bucket, and spray foam assault on, well, everyone in their path really. I had heard about this fabled way of celebrating the end of Carnival and resolved not to take whatever was hurled my way personally.
Things stayed pretty calm as we walked down through San Blas and the more popular tourist streets – just a few water bombs and buckets hurled here and there, and not at me. The Plaza de Armas, however, was Ground Zero for mischief and mayhem via any means possible. The main fountain had been turned into an ammunitions cache for water bombs of all kinds. Men, women, and children doused each other and followed up with a good old shaving cream or foam spray in the face/hair. It was great fun to watch…until a small child filled my ear with the same. Beware the small children; you never see them coming.
Determined to go to San Pedro market to get ingredients for dinner I walked up the main pedestrian corridor towards my neighborhood. Big mistake.
In the absence of automotive traffic the spraying and bombing was rampant. Within a minute or two I had been absolutely covered in the foam spray and looked like I had just run a marathon due to a water balloon that had been tossed on to my head from a child with accurate aim on a balcony above.
Although I don’t usually go around hoping for an earful of shaving cream, I had a great time watching people of all ages go after each other like kids on Halloween in the States…minus the eggs, and that really makes a difference.
By the time I got back to my apartment the foam spray had mostly disintegrated and a quick shower removed all evidence of the Carnival onslaught.
Right now I can still hear several layers of party music in the distance, and I have no doubt that the mischief and mayhem will continue until the wee hours…why not?

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