Easter week is a special time to visit Ayacucho as the many, many churches in town have a long history of parading their Saints about town during the week. There were parades through the plaza every day we were in town, and Palm Sunday was the cultural highlight of the trip. The massive parade included acrobats, fabulous traditional outfits, horses, donkeys, llamas in their Sunday best, and Jesus on a donkey! All followed by half the town proudly waving their woven palm leaves. Throw in fireworks, the battle of the choirs and a large public mass in front of the Cathedral and you have a sense of Ayacucho. Personally I loved the enthusiasm of the locals and the visitors (the terrible rains and mudslides scared away a lot of visitors we think) for this very special time of year for Christians.
If you love crafts you will love Ayacucho. It was a clean and very safe place, and you will find retablo makers, alabaster carvers, alpaca weavers, ceramic artists and many more traditional crafts from this area.
Beyond the abundance of craft makers, we also picked up on the true need of the people for help. For there are too many artists and far too little tourists. If 1 in 100 visitors to Cusco would come to Ayacucho, the city would bloom again. Historically, Ayacucho and the region suffered terribly during Peru's war with terrorism. Tourism is slowly recovering, but services for tourists are more on a level with Bolivia than what travelers familiar with Cusco or Puno would expect in 2017. But that just makes it more fun for us. Great art, a long history, and artists proud of their work and history. If I can spread even a little bit of the beauty and cheer from Ayacucho, the trip was worth it.
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