The Cultural Environment in Cusco

I am now home from my experience in Cusco, and I have had some time to reflect on the cultural environment and the community there. I think that I did have some culture shock when I first arrived, but over time I became more accustomed to the way of life there. Probably the biggest change was the language difference. I have been taking Spanish for many years, but a lot of my education has focused on reading and writing, rather than speaking. At first, I would get really frustrated when I couldn’t express myself properly, but I found that most of the people there tried to understand and help me. I also noticed other differences in the culture while I was there. Cusco is a very traditional city, and the majority of  people hold traditional values that mix Catholic and Andean ideas. There were two large festivals while I was in Cusco, Corpus Christi and Inti Raymi. Corpus Christi is a Catholic holiday where each parish in Cusco brings a statue of their saint to the main Cathedral in the Plaza de Armas. Inti Raymi is an Incan celebration of the winter solstice and is considered the biggest festival of the year in Cusco. With each holiday it was very interesting to see how they blend Catholicism with Incan beliefs and celebrate both cultures. Leading up to Inti Raymi at the end of June, there were parades every day in the Plaza de Armas that were put on by various organizations and schools in Cusco. Being able to watch and participate in all of these festivities made me feel like part of the community, and I was able to better understand the fusion of cultures in Cusco. This experience reshaped my view of community because it was interesting to see a place that honors both old and new traditions and different generations partaking in these activities to keep their culture alive.

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