This week has mostly been all about culture for me. The mayor of Magdalena del Mar, the district I live in in Lima, Francis Allison has supported something called MagdalenARTE. Basically, Dr. Allison has been working to promote the arts within the community so for 15 days there was a festival of events based on not only Peruvian art, but international art as well. My host mom is somewhat a political activist for Magdalena and supports Dr. Allison and his actions to better the town of Magdalena del Mar. So naturally, she wanted to support the art appreciation campaign and attend various events that were being held throughout the last two weeks. She invited me and the other housemates to attend various activities with her. We started off by seeing classical ballet, performed by the Magdalena Ballet, which featured pieces from the Nutcracker and Don Quixote. It was beautiful and really emphasized that art can transgress cultures. It is something that everyone can appreciate. Art can be a common language, as Dr. Allison mentioned at the end of the ballet performance.
Next, I went with a few friends to listen to some tango music (Argentinian) and then there was a huge comedy show afterwards at the main plaza of Magdalena. We didn’t realize that the comedy show was going to be such a huge event, it was even on TV! While we were waiting for the show to start, which of course was an hour late, we found out that Peruvians will begin to clap in order to tell the performers that we are all there waiting for the show to begin. People get annoyed by having to wait so long so they make noise to make sure everyone knows that we are waiting. Finally the show began, but being ‘gringos’ we didn’t quite understand the jokes. Everyone in the audience would be laughing and the row of foreigners had no idea what was going on. Obviously humor varies by location and I would say that it is pretty necessary to be a native speaker of the language to understand a lot of jokes. I do not understand a majority of the jokes my host dad tells me and pretty much none of my Peruvian friends get my jokes either. Sarcasm also is not really detected by Peruvians, so I have to be careful to stay away from that.
Lastly, my host mom and I went to a concert that featured Lucho Quequezana, who is a famous musician, known all over the world. The concert took place on a huaca, meaning ruin. So I thought that there was nothing cooler than being on an ancient Ichma Ruin in Magdalena listening to Lucho Quequezana play some very exciting Andean music. He busted out the stereotypical Peruvian pan flutes (which have many different names that I do not remember) and recorders to play typical Andean rhythms. But, he also threw in drums and guitars to make it have more of a rock feel. It was the coolest thing I’ve been to in a while here in Peru! I could listen to this music for hours.
I would encourage you to take a look at this video! This is the exact performance I saw and you can see the huaca they are playing on!
This week, I have learned more about the culture here in Peru and the appreciation people have for art. My host mom told me that when this was first introduced about 8 years ago, nobody came to the events but recently has started to become a more popular event for the public. Through my host mom and listening to the mayor’s speeches (which he has attend every event), I have begun to realize what it is that Peruvians (generally) want for their town and country. They wish to be more developed, for people to be more educated and have manners. They wish for people to respect each other and form a country that is safe to live in since it currently is not the safest place. They recognize Peru’s faults and are constantly working towards improving their community and the environment. Currently they are in the process of cleaning up all the beaches since right now most of them are mini landfills. They are also constructing more museums, specifically one that will concentrate on the terrorism that the Sendero Luminoso caused years ago. They are focused on not only improving their country and becoming more ‘modern’ but they are equally concerned in conversing their culture and history. In conclusion, I learned more this week about the culture of Peru and about the desires Peruvians have for their country than I have the past 6 months.