25th of May 2017 - written by Katy Shorthouse
Sitting in Jack’s Café, trying to explain Quyllur Rit’i: it’s a classic moment in contrast, and in my career.
Jack’s Café is a cosy, busy, coffee-smelling slice of Australia in the heart of Cusco. It’s probably the most popular tourist restaurant in Peru. Certainly the only one that seasoned expats consider setting foot in, let alone frequenting so regularly they have their own spot at the bar, as many of us do. It’s got the best coffee, bacon, and sandwiches in Cusco. Early on a blisteringly cold May morning, entering Jack’s is like stepping into Melbourne out of, well, Quyllur Rit’i.
Quyllur Rit’i is, well…. first and foremost, quite difficult to describe. I’ve attempted it in many times and places (you can read one attempt here, if you’re interested). The only way to really get it is to go there, which is why we run a 12-day tour that includes it every year (and that made National Geographic Traveler’s 50 Tours of a Lifetime list in 2015), and why travel writer Mark Johanson is heading in to Quyllur Rit’i 2016 later today. He’s asked me here to provide some background. I’ve asked star guide and amateur anthropologist Luis Portal along, to help me shed some light. The three of us sit around, drink some coffee, have a nice chat, and then we wave Mark off. And a few months later, in Australia's Get Lost Magazine, he rewards us with something really cool: this.
Katy Shorthouse is the co-founder and director of Aspiring Adventures, an adventure tour company running award-winning trips to Peru and other destinations. Find her on Google+ and Facebook. As well as running adventure tours, Katy is also a Peru guidebook author, mother, and avid hiker, skier and mountain biker.