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This year the Fiesta of the Virgin of Lourdes is once again the biggest weekend of the summer. People return to Barranca from all over the world to visit family. I’ve met people who live in Austria, Israel and the US all back to visit and enjoy the summer and participate in the festival. There are two statues of the Virgin, one from France whose purchase was organized by the mother of Jorge Marquez, who formerly owned our house. A newer statue was made by an Italian craftsman more recently and presides over the tiny chapel.

This year the day was sunny but not too hot and the dancers put on their best performance ever. The marinera, traditional Peruvian dance typical of the coast, was beautiful to watch with the ocean in the background.

The festival includes a novena and concludes with Sunday mass, though many more people come to see the dancers and the fireworks. Saturday evening was the yunza, an Andean tradition of erecting a tree that is decorated with prizes. A traditional band plays as neighbors take turns hacking at the trunk. Beer is distributed as the singing, dancing and clapping continue. The yunza is not supposed to be quick, and many people whack at random places on the trunk to prolong the process. After about an hour and a half, the final blow comes and everyone grabs for one of the prize bags. It shows we never entirely grow up. People are as enthusiastic about a bag of Skittles as any of their kids. Besides, the kids had their own yunza Saturday morning. The person who delivered the final blow that downed the tree is the patron, responsible for the tree, gifts, band and beer next year.

One of the only good things you can say about machismo is that the men aren’t afraid to dance.

 

The women are always beautiful.

 

 

 

 

Jonathan loves hosting the dancers on our patio where there is shade and room to prepare.

 

 

Nor can he resist getting in on the action.

 

 

 

Nothing says “I ♥ Our Lady of Lourdes” like giant spinning fireworks.