On January 6th, in the high Andean town of San Pablo, between the departments of Cusco and Puno, a unique race will determine the following year’s luck for these two cities. Here, the three kings are not Melchor, Gaspar, and Balthazar, but rather Inkarri, Mistirri, and Negrorri (Inca King, Mestizo King, and Black King) and the three compete in a race on horseback.
After a ceremony in the town’s Wilson Theater the whips and conch horns are arranged in preparation before the municipal authorities and the kings of the year. After a fortifying cup of hot almond ponche, the fully-costumed Kings make their way to the plaza for a comical dialogue with King Herod, who fears for his throne!
Around 2:30pm the race begins, with different stops where the communities of Langui, Layo, and Checca will compete. There’s a good deal of drunken revelry and hijinks throughout, as with all Peruvian celebrations- beer everywhere.
The race ends with the Virgen of Bethlehem and the Mayor and other authorities of San Pablo presiding. If Inkarri, who represents the valleys of Cusco, wins, it will be a good year for the harvests in the area around Cusco. If Mistirri wins, the altiplano (high Andean plains- higher than 4000 meters) benefits. That means it will be a good year for ranching and the llamas and alpacas will prosper. If Negrorri wins, it will not be a good year for either of the two regions, there will be scarcity in production, but strangely, they say that there will be money.
This month is full of interesting Christmas and New Year’s related activities in Peru, and we’ll be hosting our own parties as well, so keep checking back as we’ll be posting that information soon!