Monday, October 14, 2013

An Entertaining Weekend in Piura

October is the month the University Of Piura (UDEP) holds its annual internal Olympic competition. The competing disciplines are Business, Engineering, Communication, Education and Law. The competition begins with a parade starting on campus and finishing in downtown Piura. Each discipline constructs its own float based on a theme assigned to them. There is obviously a lot of time, money and effort that goes into these creations. During the parade each float is accompanied ahead and behind by students from the respective career; all of them chanting rehearsed routines at the top of their lungs.  The schools of business and engineering have the largest enrollment, and both of them had at least 500 marching students. The noise and enthusiasm as these groups passed was absolutely incredible.  

Maribel’s son Brian is studying business at UDEP and participated in the celebration (he is holding the second ‘E’ in the photo). That bias aside, it was our opinion and the initial opinion of whoever was judging that the business float was the most impressive.

The theme was American jazz music. At the front of the float were two couples dancing the Charleston. Unfortunately, after at first declaring it the winner the decision was reversed and the float disqualified because, as I understand it, there was an issue about the music played on the float or the music sung (or not sung) by the students.

In the rear ‘Ray Charles’ was playing the piano accompanied by a trio of jazz-singing beauties. The photos of this and other floats do not at all do them justice. They were so large and elaborately detailed on both sides that it was impossible for one picture to capture it all.

At the conclusion of the parade the second phase of the Olympics began in various locations of the city. The games included competition in swimming, some track events, volleyball, basketball and soccer. The school of business triumphed in four of seven events; however this success did not satisfy some of the business students who were already vowing revenge for the loss of this year’s parade float award.

This weekend also marked the anniversary of Piura’s founding 481 years ago. Part of the celebration involved a series of 3-round amateur boxing matches on Saturday night next to the Plaza de Armas in a boxing ring constructed in front of the city hall. The large crowd was very vocal during and after each bout in support of the contestants. The boxing ended at about 10:00pm and shortly after there was an impressive fireworks display lasting until after 11:00.

Sunday morning we watched the flag raising ceremony and parade in Piura; an event that happens every Sunday morning in every town in Peru, and then boarded a combi for the 30 minute ride to Catacaos; a town with a reputation for the unique and beautiful creations of its artisans. There isn’t much to see in Catacaos beyond the 3-block area of artisans shops but it is worth the time to walk through the nearby outdoor market and the principal park for a taste of local culture.  

At 4:00pm we were back in Piura aboard the bus for the three hour ride to Chiclayo. It was a good weekend.

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