Sunday, February 7, 2010

Festival de la Amistad y la Gastronomia 2010

Para las señoritas, prometì mostrar las fotos en este articulo… he cumplido mi promesa.

The Festival of Friendship and Gastronomy 2010 kicked off yesterday with a parade through central Chiclayo. No, I don’t know why friendship and gastronomy are linked together in a festival. They just are. That’s the type of thing I’ve stopped asking questions about in Peru. The celebration runs for two weeks, finishing on the 20th. There are 35 districts in the Lambayeque Region and each of them is invited to send representatives to take part in any and all festivals. Normally less than half the districts take part and often far less than half. I’m only guessing but I believe it’s probably a lack of money for travel and other expenses that limits participation.

Saturday’s parade, in spite of a rare day of rain had a healthy representation from districts all over the region, many of them in native dress dancing to traditional music. These beautiful young ladies whose names I neglected to ask are from (l to r) Bagua, Monsefù and Jaen. Though we had no common language, they tried to answer my many questions prior to the parade beginning about the traditions being demonstrated.

One of the more impressive parts of the parade for me was the group of young women from Zaña who periodically would stop to perform the Festejo – a slave dance. Back in the 17th century Zaña had a large African slave population. There is still a significant portion with that heritage remaining and their traditions are alive and well. Their performance alone made it worth facing the rain and crowds.

Peruvians are proud of their horses, especially the breed known as the Paso. Parade viewers voiced oooohs and ahhhhs as a large contingent of chalanes (horse trainers/riders) rode by in formation. These horses are trained to dance the Marinera.

I don’t know where these guys are from, but I think the custom they were depicting is called hamming it up for the camera. Bands like this are common all over Peru…almost all of them trying to imitate the hugely successful Grupo Cinco from Monsefù. Most don’t make it and quietly drop out of existence, but they have fun while it lasts.

The nearby village of Picsi sent a large contingent. Their clothing represents a mixture of different time periods and uses, from the ancient Moche to modern carnival costumes. The girl on the left is dressed as Miss Inikuk – meaning Moche Maiden taken from Moche legend.

These dancers are actually students from a dance institute in Chiclayo depicting a traditional dance of the Shipibo tribe from the upper Amazon. The tribe, with a population of about 35,000 lives in from 300 to 400 villages near the town of Pucallpa. What really impresses me is the seriousness these dancers and the others bring to their performance. One can almost feel a sense of obligation on their part to preserve and pass on intact these traditions out of respect for their ancestors.

As the parade was drawing to a close an older, well-dressed man was heard to exclaim loudly to the crowd at large… “This is what we need more of! This is Peru and our traditions!” He’ll get no argument from me.