Kool & the Gang would have loved Arequipa. Almost every week of the year here we could sing: “There’s a party going on right here, a celebration, to last throughout the year”. There are tons of celebrations here. Some are characterized by traditional rituals, but many share common features: music (religious, local, traditional, mariachi-type, and pop), cohetes (what my husband calls “fire crackers on steroids”), cakes, sodas, and beer, and the hora loca, the ‘crazy hour’, a time to dance, make noise and wear funny hats, masks and ties that signals the ‘nearing’ of the end of the party.
Since moving here two years ago I have begun to understand a piece of the culture that I had no idea existed. Trust and mistrust are two sides of a coin that are very significant here in Arequipa. Getting to know people and building a level of trust with them is no easy task. Once you do build trust with a Peruvian you have made a real friend and it’s a beautiful thing
Incense. Candles. Live bands. Fireworks. Veils. Popcorn. Cotton candy. Barefoot reverence. Purple vestments. Dueling bands. Balloons. Crosses. Flowers. Candied apples. Priests. Banners. Crucifixes. Ornamental street tapestries. And people. Lots of people. Men dressed in purple are carrying a massive painting of Jesus on a heavy pedestal. Others dressed in purple are following close behind, reciting their prayers and showing their devotion to the Lord of Miracles, some by walking barefoot.
I went to the store today to buy bread. I was in a hurry. I had a lot of other things to be doing and to be preparing. I wanted to run in, ask if they had bread, buy the bread, and then hurry back home so I could get on with what I needed to do. However, I arrived at the store, asked if she had any bread left, only to be answered with, “Buenos Días!” This was my reminder that I had forgotten to greet her. My mindset changed immediately. I then returned the greeting, asked her how her family was, she asked how Jeremy was and what I had done that morning. THEN, I asked if she had any bread.