Dancing in the streets....

Trip Start Jan 04, 2008
Trip End Apr 08, 2008

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Flag of Peru  ,
Tuesday, February 5, 2008

It's been a good three days here in Puno, Peru.  It's the festival of Candlemas, or here it's called the Virgin de la Candelaria Festival.  Big religious festival...lots of walking the Virgin around on a platform and pouring flower petals all over her.  Lots of dancing too...and colorful costumes, and parades that go on for hours, and celebration, and of course, plenty of serious drinking... people come from all over....it's a great street scene, the celebrating never stops...I wear out before the dancers...I don't know how they do it....it's a LONG festive weekend.  When the giant statue of the Virgin is carried thru town during her procession, along with a collection of religious men and women, people on the side of the road are praying and singing and mobbing after her en masse in an effort to get closer...to walk in the wake of the Virgin.   It's all very elegant and dramatic. 
But the bulk of the weekend is spontaneous dance and music.  Like no one really knows the schedule of things...they just happen.   You can go back to the hostel in the middle of the day and take a nap and when you hit the streets again, it's all still going on.  So it's been a great time...weather sunny and hot during the day...rainy at night - helps clean off the streets....fresh and ready for another day of celebration....

By far, my favorite of this whole scene here is the marching bands of Pan flutes....or Andean flutes...there are groups with 25 or more flutes of all sizes- the wide, long ones carry the bass and there is every size to very small.   And these guys can really carry a tune.   Whenever I've tried to play mine, I get winded and light headed.  Watching these guys go at it for hours, while they're marching down the street and even dancing, is inspiring.  And I think I've figured out how they do it.  They don't play every note...not even close...but the sound of all the flutes playing intertwined rhythms together is remarkable.  Got some great video of it to bring home...was thinking we should revive our old drum circle and instead of a bell symphony, let's work out a Pan flute symphony.   I think we can do it. 

Well the festival is definitely over for me when the streets smell like urine and it's starting to rain.  After three full days and nights of music, dancing, eating, and drinking, the streets are still full of people, the drums are still bonging loudly and I can't believe it but both the women and men, still dressed in their folkloric outfits, are dancing in the muddy rainy streets.  And to make matters worse, it looks like some kind of water main has ruptured because the streets have rivers flowing down them...but the celebration goes on...I think these folks must be entranced at this point...the dance, although beautiful to watch, is very repetitive as is the music...so I'm thinking the only thing keeping these folks going is some kind of spiritual high.   I know I'm tired and all I'm doing is taking pictures and eating.  
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