Sunday, April 18, 2010

Chiclayo’s ‘New’ Municipalidad

On September 7, 2006 sometime after midnight a small group of men set fire to Chiclayo’s city hall, apparently over a dispute regarding the recent election for mayor. There was extensive interior damage, forcing many city officials to occupy temporary office space throughout the city. The mayor’s office was located in a back-room of the public library. Though the rebuilding is not quite complete, it was close enough to inaugurate the ‘new’ city hall last night in conjunction with the celebration this week of Chiclayo’s 175th anniversary.

There had to have been thousands of people there last night. The Air Force band was playing up-beat jazz selections across the street in the principal park and had an appreciative crowd fired up - maybe ‘fired’ is not a good choice of words, but it was a festive atmosphere and I found myself shouting “Viva Chiclayo” as loud as anyone.

Inside city hall the odors of fresh paint and varnish were close to but not quite overpowering. The main event of the evening was to be a performance by the Piura Minicipal Symphony Orchestra in the second floor auditorium. Now…I’ve got to explain something here. Generally speaking events in Peru and especially outside of Lima are much less formal than in the States. I was dressed in jeans, t-shirt and a baseball cap and Maribel about the same, which is normal attire for most activities in Chiclayo.

These two young ladies were the first indication that we were underdressed, which was confirmed as we ascended the stairs and approached the auditorium and met the mayor in a suit. He never wears a suit. In two years I have never seen him attend any function in a suit. Tonight he’s in a suit. So is every other man, apparently to match the appropriate attire worn by the women. Several people motioned for us to enter the auditorium. Maribel was willing but there was no way I was going in there, even after I had managed to surreptitiously remove my cap and stuff it in my pants. Some things you just don’t do.

Señor Fashion

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