Inti Raymi is the traditional Incan festival of the sun. It coincides with the winter solstice, and is an invitation for the sun to come back and play. The official Festival day is on June 24th, but in Cusco, the celebration lasts most of June. Cusco's Inti Raymi is the second largest festival in South America. Hundreds of thousands of people come from all over the world to join the party. On the actual day of Inti Raymi the population of this city explodes, the main square becomes a madhouse, and the beer flows like wine. Every car becomes a taxi, with a homemade cardboard sign propped in the window, and every able-bodied child becomes a vendor, selling foldable straw hats, homemade chicha morada (purple corn juice) in plastic baggies, on-the-spot shoe-shines, watercolor postcards, bracelets, cheap sunglasses, and gigantic kernels of sweetened puffed corn scooped from massive bags.
We weren't in town for Inti Raymi day. We headed up to Puno and Lake Titicaca to escape the crowds. The parade you see here was a few days before, when everyone was gearing up, and the town was nearing full swing. It features students at the university. Each different school has their own banner, their own costumes, and their own dances. Except the future lawyers, they're very dignified. But hey - check out the dental students! Those guys know how to party!!