19June 2019

Quechua

– project journal –

 

Hola Lima!

From various corners of the world, we fly to Lima – Ram and Tanin from Hamburg, Kieke and Marieke from Amsterdam. We have spoken to each other once via Skype, but we do not know each other. Nevertheless, our joint mission immediately creates a bond: capturing the 75th anniversary of Inti Raymi, the Inca festival of the sun. We can’t wait to get started, but due to the jet lag, we don’t get much further than a simmering “hola”, drinking a cup of tea and downloading the Google Translate App. More tomorrow. Promised.
Buenas noches.

 

 

20June 2019

Breathtaking

 

The one and a half hour flight to Cusco offers a phenomenal view of the Andes, making it almost a shame to start the descent. Once we land, we are welcomed by a breath of fresh mountain air and the broad smile of Saul, our guide for the coming days. Saul turns out to be a hit. He is smart, social, and practical. Immediately after we have dropped our luggage in the hotel, he takes us into the historic city and tells us one story after another. Walking through the narrow streets, where ancient Inca ruins alternate with beautiful colonial buildings, it’s almost easy to imagine ourselves living during these ancient times. While we walk and talk, we start to pant more and more.

Cusco

 

The former capital of the Inca empire is 3,399 meters above sea level, and it seems that we too cannot escape the well-known altitude sickness symptoms. With slightly spinning heads, we finally plunge into a restaurant. It’s ok; we have stuff to discuss anyway. How are we going to capture this spectacle for example? Who are we going to interview? And how do we come into contact with these people? Saul writes and thinks along with enthusiasm, while Kieke gives us a tip. The taxi driver, the saleswoman, the receptionist: everyone can be a participant in the festival or know someone who is involved in the festival. This means: we have to start talking to everybody! We nod. At the same time, we all realize that there is something even more critical. Something that must be arranged first thing tomorrow morning: the press passes.

21June 2019

LOLama

 

What is the difference between a llama, an alpaca, and a vicuna, a guanaco? With sleepy eyes, we try to wake each other up with coffee and a lama lesson. It’s working. Not much later we efficiently split our team into a commission who is responsible for coming up with general interview questions and a commission who will arrange the press cards. Unfortunately, it appears that good planning doesn’t guarantee success at the press office if they have no time for an impromptu visit from abroad. As much as we would like to get it off our chest, we will have to wait until the end of the afternoon.

 

Mini Inti Raymi

We need interview candidates, and therefore, we walk into the streets. Soon we are on a roll. At central square, Plaza de Armas, we meet the 96-year-old photographer who has been taking pictures of tourists for more than seventy years. He has seen Inti Raymi change slowly and is willing to tell us all about it. Almost simultaneously, Saul receives a phone call. His little niece is about to perform a mini show of Inti Raymi with her classmates, and we are welcome. We leave the square in no time, telling our new old friend that we will come back tomorrow. Along the way, we spot a lady in an atelier full of costumes. Inti Raymi? We don’t have time to ask, but we will get back to her. Without realizing it, we soak in a colorful parade that is no more than half a meter high. The whole thing is too cute, and we cannot stop taking pictures. Once outside, we go straight to the woman in the atelier. This time we walk inside. She tells us that the official atelier is across the street. We follow her instructions, knock on the wooden door, talk – read: Saul talks, we mostly smile – look around, take a few pictures and, walk outside with an even bigger smile. They have permitted us to come back the day after tomorrow to do several interviews!

Press Passes

After a late lunch, it is time to arrange our press passes. In the crowded press office, it is unclear who’s next or who’s desk is in charge of what. We surrender to the chaos until Kieke and Saul are called upstairs. It takes a long time. Too long. When Kieke finally comes down, she tells us that we can have one press card. One. There are four of us! We don’t have time to think. We must decide straight away, which name it is labeled. We unanimously decide that Ram may have it. Kieke goes upstairs again and together with Saul she talks like crazy to get the rest in. Ten minutes she returns with another question. Do we want to buy ‘tower tickets’? The festival takes place in three places, and only the first two are freely accessible to everyone. Without a press card, we will not be able to enter the third one unless we buy a ticket. A tower seat may offer slightly more options than a place at the tribune. We decide to go for it, without knowing what ‘it’ is. When Kieke finally shows us the printed press pass and the tower passes that evening, we regain some hope: there are no names on it, and they all look the same.

22June 2019

Sunny side up

 

The first rehearsals start in the central square at eight and we want to be there on time. Armed with our cameras we, therefore, head out immediately after breakfast. The participants are not (yet) dressed up, but it is already impressive to see all these people marching and singing at the same time.

 

Again luck is on our side. We end up on a little square where we suddenly come face to face with the director of the festival and the Inca – which means King, the main character during Inti Raymi. After mediation from Saul, we can interview them both on the spot. We quickly grab our questionnaire from our backpack and set ourselves up as a real camera team – what is a quick search for four photographers, but somehow it works! On top of this, the director permits us to approach all participants for our project!

 

Rehearsal

 

The rehearsals move slowly to the third spot, which is half an hour’s walk from the central square. Uphill. Once at the top, we understand why the final piece takes place at this archaeological site called Saqsaywaman. The area is so enchantingly beautiful that we rename her on the spot to be ‘sexy woman’.

 

Back in the city, the streets are filled again with a beautiful parade. Saul tells us that they represent around the 80 districts of Cusco that and that they are here to show themselves to the mayor. Our cameras click automatically, although we have something else on the agenda: the interview with the 96-year-old photographer. We find him in the same place as the day before, in the middle of the square. Due to the crowds, we decide to interview him in the nearby museum. We have enough time but are still slightly stressed. Unlike this morning, we now want to shoot from two different angles, and for some reason, we can’t get them. At the same time, our equipment isn’t suitable to capture the photographer’s voice. For the first time, we face the fact that none of us is a professional videographer. At the same time, this experience immediately demonstrates the strength of our team: we do not blame each other, but decide to practice the set-up the next morning.

 

Dwarf dreaming

After a fantastic dinner prepared by Saul and a conversation about invisible mythical dwarfs, we go to bed. Tomorrow the alarm goes off early.

23June 2019

Countdown

 

We stick to our word and practice the video set-up with three different camera angles. After that, we interview Saul and try to arrange batches with the JNF logo on it – a request from the organization of the festival. The latter turns out to be another thing. It is Sunday and the day before the festival: no way that we can have emblems embroidered anywhere. But, as always, there is a solution to everything. Kieke converts the logo into a Word-file and has it printed at the hotel reception. Plastic cover with a cord on it, et voila!

The festival starts tomorrow at the Qorikancha (Temple of the Sun) and then continues at the central square. Although we cannot imagine what it looks like with 750 actors and 25,000 visitors, we each try to think for ourselves where we want to stand. In the meantime, another parade passes us. It seems as if this is never-ending!

Atelier

The hours fly by, and before we know it, it is already noon and time to go back to the atelier. The area has been filled to the brim with native feather tips, costumes and (fake) gold jewelry! When several attendees also want to dress up for us, we are delighted. We quickly tap a red rug against the only freestanding wall. It’s not ideal, but at least we can start shooting. The same applies to the interviews that we hold on the single couch in the middle of the room. We have already abandoned the idea of keeping the afternoon free so that we could rest for tomorrow. Opportunities like this do not come across that often. We continue until it gets too dark to shoot, after which we eat, make backups, double-check our stuff for tomorrow and go to bed.

24June 2019

Showtime

It is still pitch dark outside when the alarm goes off, and we leave for the Qorikancha. We have no guarantee that it will work, but we want to try at least to catch the biggest dress-up ‘party’ that will take place here in a moment. It is 5:15 am when we are standing in front of the church. There is nobody except for two tailors. Hm. Upon inquiry, the participants suddenly appear to arrive at 7:30 am. We walk back towards the street, where we buy plastic chairs at two strategic places. No idea if we can use it, but we’ll see about that later. Fortunately, the first coffee shop opens, and we can warm ourselves up a bit. At half-past seven, we go back to the church, where there is already a whole army of participants. But whatever we try: we can’t go in with them. Even Saul can’t help us out. We are very disappointed, but there is no alternative but to accept what is.

 

Temple of the Sun

We reconsider our best spot, drink another coffee, go to the toilet, freeze our asses off and then all of a sudden the pututeros blow on their shells! The ghepa on their windpipes soon follow, just like the trumpeters, drummers and other musicians. The crowd is going crazy and squeezes itself in every corner to catch a glimpse of the whole spectacle. The same applies to us, except for Ram, who has somehow managed to talk himself on the field – later he tells us he even got into the sun temple! We are a bit jealous to see him there between all the participants, but above all, we are super proud. Go Ram!

Ode to the sun

 

After the first performance, in which the Inca and his right hand the Qoya have brought an ode to the sun, the entire procession leaves for the central square. Ram follows the last group of actors and re-joins us. We all shoot photos and videos like crazy, but we are struggling with the sun above and the people beside us. With difficulty, we manage to force ourselves along with the entire crowd and conquer a place at the central square.

 

Sacsayhuama

 

We are able to document the final performance that takes place at ancient site Sacsayhuaman. Walking into Sacsayhuaman feels magical: the ancient ruins are beautiful and set the tone for the performance to come. The ‘secret’ tower turns out to be a great spot. It overlooks the field where all the performers are dancing. To get a different, more close up perspective Tanin goes down, but it is a bit difficult because nobody else other than the participants are permitted on the field. However, there are a couple times where the dancers make their way closer to the audience, and at the end of the festival they are able to ask some of the dancers for some close up shots! At last, they return to the hotel nice and sunburnt.

25June 2019

After the match

After our first coffee, the conversation starts slowly. We are demolished, but at the same time excited about what we have all shot. One by one, we go through the material. We are critical of ourselves, but we are kind to each other, and although for some, it is a bit of a switch: as a team, we have gathered an almost complete picture. We take a break so that we can quickly buy a few souvenirs, after which we work out the first steps of the project and ask our last questions to Saul. As he returns home, we say goodbye to our new friend and as always that hurts a bit.

26June 2019

Home

We expect this to be a typical travel day, but nothing turns out to be less accurate. First of all, our tickets from Cusco to Lima appear to be on the wrong date. Then Ram is taken in Cusco for a body scan, Tanin loses her boarding pass, Ram is re-examined again, and not much later Tanin has to go back to show her almost expired visa for Germany. When we finally fix everything and hang high in the air half an hour later, we can hardly comprehend it, but this day is also almost over. Just like this epic Inti Raymi-trip.

 

 

 

 

27June 2019

The team is really busy processing the rest of the material! Stay tuned!

 

In collaboration with

Avila Reizen