Chucuito is a little town on Lake Titicaca, just South of Puno. It's a 15 minute tuc-tuc ride, and a world away. We went to hole up for a few days, hoping to shake the tourist machine that is Puno out of our bones.
Our first morning there I wasn't feeling so well, and when we took a walk to the center of town to buy me a coke, we ran into a wedding party. Literally. The entire town had just come streaming out of the church, and were dancing around the square while a brass band played on the church steps. We sat down on the curb to watch, and were soon invited to join the party. The dancing was specific, and Bob and I tried to imitate as best we could. The dancers were in two lines led by the brides parents, snaking their way around the square, all waving white handkerchiefs. They danced for more than an hour to the ragged band.
At some invisible signal everyone stopped, and crowded around the steps of the church. It was time to toast the ancestors. The brides mother and father popped open a Cuscueña beer and poured it into plastic cups, as the crowd watched quietly. They poured some on the ground, took two steps, poured more on the ground, took two more steps, and threw the rest of the beer along the ground as far as it would go. The crowd went wild, and the cases and cases of beer stacked all around the square were popped open and passed around. Everyone poured out a bit to the ancestors before their first sip.
The Bride and Groom were the first to be served:
After congratulating the happy couple we went back to our hostel for lunch. When we followed the sound of the band back to the square later that afternoon the party was truly in full swing. The band was even more ragged, and definitely louder. The cases of beer had been conscientiously and devotedly attended to. The ladies were lined up on the curb to watch and gossip. I think we might have been the object of a few raised eyebrows ourselves. Apparently you don't turn down a plastic cup of warm beer at a wedding celebration, no matter how many cups you've had.
After a while the dancing in lines began again, and the town headed down the street to the community center, where the traditional brass band gave way to a DJ spinning Quechuan. The next morning during breakfast we talked to our bleary-eyed cook, confetti still in his hair. Evidently it was a long night.