Peru is a catholic society. They have the Spanish to thank for that. In my opinion, the religion they held before they were introduced to Christianity made a lot more sense. They were in better touch with reality and they didn’t believe that the world was created for them. With the teachings of Christianity, you have people believing we are god’s favorite child, since we were created in his image but then now we are born with original sin. Could there be a more egotistical but contradictory view of ourselves?
(in the pic, I'm on the left...SPORT ANCASH!)
Anyhow, along with all the blocked thinking that comes along with religion, there also comes along reasons to party, like 'Carnavales' here in Peru. Carnival, is traditionally the festivals that lead up to lent and fasting. I don’t think anyone in Peru really practices lent though. Or at least, not in the town I live. But they don’t really practice religion that much, other than having the quota number of posters of Jesus with a heart. Luckily, they like to endorse the party aspect of the religion though.
In Peru, Carnavales is a huge water fight. For about two weeks leading up to the main couple of days before lent starts, kids start throwing water balloons. If you get hit by one, you just smile and keep walking. Usually, if you’re wearing a bag or have something of value, no one will throw anything at you, and it’s pretty much respected, except for the big day. That aspect is much different from the States, because people don’t have a good sense of value there…you can just buy a new one of whatever got ruined. It was nice seeing the sense of restrained enjoyment from the kids. You could see in their eyes how bad they'd like to hit you with that balloon, but they didn't.
The biggest party happens in Cajamarca, a city of about 130,000 in the rolling mountains in the
northern part of Peru. It’s takes about 14 hours to get there from my site by bus. On the main day, it’s an all out war with paint, water, and vegetable oil. Thousands of people are out in the streets, all in small groups and each group has a drummer along with them, like a Middle-Ages war party. Taxis get covered in paint, houses get doused in different colors, and of course, you get covered head-to-toe with paint.
Pic: The Ancash boys, minus Frank, but plus Wes. Wes is next to me without his shirt.
My Ancash brethren and I bought special outfits for the occasion. About 60 Peace Corps Volunteers arrived for the festivities. We had our own little war for fun, and then we ganged up on the Peruvians gangs who were targeting us because we’re gringos (white people). Walking through the streets, if you’re white, you get triple the attention. Usually, these paint/water fights is a way to flirt and you see girls attacking guys and guys attacking girls. If you’re white though, it doesn’t matter your gender, you’re a target for everyone. Then, at 3 or 4 in the afternoon, all the water and paint fights stop and everyone starts drinking and being merry in the main plaza. This goes on until sunrise or until you pass out.
Around 3pm, my buddy John and I joined a gang of young Peruvians and went dancing with them through the streets. We ended up going to one of their houses, drank wine, and danced like idiots. We had fun because we were hanging out with locals, they had fun because they had gringos with them.
Nicole and I. You can't tell, but my head was covered in paint, and when it hardened, it was pretty gross. But Peruvians loved putting paint on the "pelado"...which means shaved head or bald.
Walking through the streets, many people hang out on their balconies or rooftops and get anyone walking by, either with balloons or they just dump entire buckets of water on you.
After the day of paint, you need a good cleansing. There are thermal baths near Cajamarca, so we went here to clean up. These pools are just for show, much, much to hot to go in. You basically rent personal baths.
Vishal. Him and I bought clothes for the occasion. The cheapest thing the store had were military school warm-ups. So on the back of our jacket was a guy aiming a gun...very appropriate for the occassion.
Thanks for reading!