Thursday, August 29, 2013

Lo Que El...? (What the...?) #1

I thought I'd add this occasional section because it's a fair statement that we see some pretty strange things here from time to time. A week or so ago I saw a tiko (one of the many little taxis that operate all over the city in Arequipa) with a huge tree tied onto the top of it (I wish I'd been able to get a photo of it but sometimes these things go by so quickly that there isn't time to get the camera out and grab a photo). The tree was about as big as the tiko and extended well over the windshield of the car. I made a comment to our agent about it and he told me about the time when he was with another ex-pat a few years ago, and they saw a tiko with a cow inside. Yes, folks, an actual cow, sitting in the back of the taxi. And no, it wasn't wearing a seatbelt.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

You don't look a day over 473

One of the wonderful things about life in Peru is that there are a lot of holidays. It seems that every month there is at least one government-sanctioned reason to take the day off work and school. In August, the major holiday in our part of the world is El Dia de Arequipa (August 15), commemorating Arequipa's anniversary. Like many holidays in Peru, the celebrations for El Dia de Arequipa start the day before. The day before El Dia de Arequipa the city was as packed with people and traffic as I've seen it yet. I had to go to the ATM at a local shopping center and instead of the journey from work to the mall taking about an hour (as usual), this time it took a full hour and a half, just because of all the additional vehicles and people who had come to Arequipa and were out and about in the city for the festivities. There was a famous Peruvian band playing in the city that night so that would have drawn more people to the city too.

Coming from a relatively young country like New Zealand, it's amazing to me that a city can be as old as 473 years, but that was the number of candles on Arequipa's cake this year. In the "modern-traditional" way that is the custom, Arequipa Day (and any other day to be celebrated: birthdays, baptisms, job promotions, Tuesdays, etc.) are punctuated with copious amounts of fireworks and partying. On holidays, these parties and fireworks last all through the weekend. I've been awakened by fireworks at 6am, and heard them at midday and in mid-afternoon. The lack of available darkness with which to see them at their best effect doesn't seem to be a reason to not set them off.
In addition to these everyday festivities, our city's special day is also celebrated with a huge procession that winds its way through the city. This parade stretches for about 4km and includes dancers and performers from all the regions around Arequipa. It starts at about 6pm and wraps up at 11pm. I wish I had photos to include in this post, but since we haven't been in Arequipa long and I was a bit worried about security with so many people out to watch the parade (and since our security people were on a higher alert than normal, and warned us to take extra precautions for our safety) I elected to give the parade a miss and we spent the day at home relaxing and listening to the fireworks instead. Certainly we missed a wonderful, amazing spectacle. Next year we'll try to go and hopefully then I can share some pictures with you.