What a weekend: Torch Festival, More Baños Bash, House Party, School APAFA (PTO) Fundraiser and Packers Party! Good thing I am leaving for the States today for the wedding of our dear friends, Angela and Craig, so I can relax. Those of you who know me know how likely that is. :-)
Matt already blogged on the first half of our weekend, so if you haven’t read it yet, check out his post and pictures here: http://mattgeiger.blogspot.com/2013/09/torch-parade-18th-anniversary-green-bay.html
It is true what they say about Latin time. Saturday night we went to a birthday party at a teacher’s house, which was a lot of fun, but we needed to leave to go to the school fundraiser. The party started at 8:00 and we knew we would be the first ones there when we arrived at 8:40. But I also knew the American hostess is always ready early so we would be welcome. We left the birthday party at 11:15 pm, shortly after many guests had just arrived. In the States, Matt would usually be asleep by 11:15 even if we were at a party, so the fact that we got to another one after that time was pretty impressive for us.
We didn’t know what to expect from the fundraiser and it was unlike any in the States. It was held in a large pavillion and as we walked up to the gate, the security from Matt’s school greeted us and allowed us into the courtyard. (There is a lot of private security in Peru. Many businesses and even private homes have security guards. People do not leave their homes unattended; Olga stays at our house if we are out of town.) In the courtyard there was a small food stand where anticuchos (skewed beef hearts, which are a typical street food) were cooking over a fire. ¨That’s odd,” I remarked, “who is eating out here? The staff?” We entered the chilly pavilion where the band was in full swing and the dance floor was rocking (or salsa-ing). We stopped at the bar and discovered that our options were beer, soda or bottles of booze. We each had a beer and settled in at a table with Matt’s boss and his wife to check out the scene. It was very nice, but noticeably different. First, people dance here. Even the men. While there are still groups of women dancing, I have never seen so many men dance and people dance like they know what they are doing. Also, Peruvians like to party: last year the party lasted until 4:00 am and the organizers were shooting for 6:00 am this year. And all these people have kids! Then, there is the Loca Hora, where they hand out balloons, masks and noisemakers and people go crazy. Apparently that happens around 2:00 am, but we left before then. Finally, we found out the anticuchos in the courtyard were the available food, and you went outside to buy them. Earlier in the evening they also had papas rellenas, but those were gone by the time we arrived. So while there was food, drink and music, like in the States, everything was just a hair different that made it distinctly a Peruvian Party.
Baños has been utter chaos this week with the festival. It is as though we live in West Allis during the Wisconsin State Fair but can’t make any money parking cars on our lawn. Bands, fireworks, parades and crowds last into the wee hours. On Saturday we arrived home just in time to watch the 12:45 a.m. firework display from the corner of our house.
On Sunday, in preparation for the Packers Party, I had my first high altitude baking disasters. Yes, plural. For my first attempt, I made high altitude adjustments and the orange loaf cake was tasty, but flat. It puffed up on the sides and then collapsed. So for the second cake, I skipped the high altitude adjustments and had a cake explosion. I managed to salvage the cake, but post-explosion it became a very flat, chocolate bundt cake and some super flat brownies. So my research continues into baking at 8700 feet!
As we were finishing up our final preparations for the Peruvian Packers Party, a crowd began to gather in front of our house. Suspecting that the locals were not trying to horn in on American football, we headed to our balcony and discovered a procession in honor of Saint Mary of the Nativity. The procession was confusing. First, there were Atahualpa and his crew. Given that Pisarro, with the blessing from the Pope, wiped out the Incan empire by first slaughtering Atahualpa after double crossing him when the Incans paid his agreed upon ransom of silver and gold, we weren’t sure why he would be hanging around in a Catholic procession.
Then there were these guys, whose significance remains a mystery. Even more mysterious is why they began to build the worst human pyramid ever.
Finally there was the mini me of Santa Maria before the real deal. All very confusing to us, but we had a great view and enjoyed the action.
The Packer Party was a great success, despite the final score. Matt explained the rules to our Peruvian guests while I explained what chili and cheddar cheese and beer dip were. The food was well received, but we are not sure whether we converted any soccer fans to football!
The Baños festival wound down last night at 3:30 am! No fireworks, but the band played on. Many vendors remain in the square but life seems to be reverting to normal.