Sucharit mumbling "It´s five now..." was my alarm clock. I rushed out of bed and was ready to go in fifteen minutes. Fran was coming with us as well, and the two of us waited for the boys to finish packing for the trip. A combi from the central bus terminal took us to Vilashuaman in four hours. The view was great, but I was asleep for most of the ride. Upon reaching our destination, we were greeted by music. A harp, violin, and vocalist were performing in a house right next to the bus stop. It was mesmerizing, the music. A two minute walk downhill led us to the central plaza of the town where more music was playing. We strolled into Eusna, an Incan pyramid. The large stone blocsk were arranged in different formations, held together by nothing but support. We ate a hearty lunch at a local diner, running into three women we´d seen travelling to the same places we were. They were kindergarten teachers from Spain. Yesterday, we had met two French guys from Germany. Travelling creates a common bond where one doesn´t feel inhibited in talking to other nomads such as oneself. It´s quite nice, actually.
After reserving a room at Hotel Fortaleza, we stepped out to the central plaza to enjoy the festivities of the day, celebrates honoring the Virgen de la Carmen. Men, women, and children decked out in traditional costumes were dancing in a circle. Someone pulled me in and before I knew it, I was twirling, hopping, skipping with strangers...and yet it didn´t feel so unfamiliar. A woman handed me a cup of brown liquid. Upon gulping it down, I realized it was a liquor of some sort. Chicha, perhaps. Violins, harps, and honey-pitched voices rang throughout the plaza, accompanied by a cavalry of brass instruments. The Temple of the Sun was another Inca ruin, but we couldn´t see it as well since a church had been constructed on top of it. It was non-extravagant, unlike the grand chuches I had seen in the other small towns I had visited.
By sunset, the plaza was an ocean of color. Specks of reds, blues, and pinks dotted the square. Amongst the hundreds of people, horses galloped in circles and groups of people continued to sing and dance. I sat on a higher ground, overlooking the flurry of activity below me. All this time, a thirty foot wooden pole was erected vertically using nothing but ropes and people. A nest of thinner wooden sticks started to form a hollow pyramid. At midnight, this eighteen-storied structure would become a building of fireworks.
Everything was going fine till about 10 pm, when my stomach started feeling a little strange. It might have bene the chicha from the local woman. It might have bbeen the veggie omelet with french fries I had for dinner. It might have been the rice pudding with fruit syrup I picked up from a street vendor. Regardless, it churned up something undesired in my gut, and I headed to the hotel, skipping the firework festivities. At a little after midnight, the churning was unbearable. A few minutes later, Nikhil, Sucharit, and Fran returned, and I threw up into a small plastic trashcan by my bed. The first bout of relief from getting rid of disagreeable food didn´t last long. Within an hour, I started feeling nauseous again, and forced some more chunks of veggie and sour liquid into the bin. I had just puked my dinner. Exhausted, I went to sleep, hoping I´d be fine in the morning.