This first semester I was extremely happy to have been able to meet new people. Generally, I found it a lot easier to meet new people and make new friends during my semester in Peru.

My roommate Romina during the Parade

One person who truly had an impact on me had to be my roommate Romina. She helped me when I had first arrived, throughout the whole semester, and when it came to informing/teaching me of Peruvian traditions and customs. Thanks to her, I had the experience of going to various parades and performances that consisted of traditional dances; Romina dances Caporales with a group formed by the university that typically engages with other groups throughout the city. In early November, she had invited me to a parade that was dedicated to La Virgen (Saint of) de la Candelaria which would launch the festivities that would be celebrated in the city of Puno (which could be described as the dancing capital of Peru). 

Virgen de la Calendaria and the Caporales group of Puno

Caporales is a folk dance that actually originates and is traditional to Bolivia and certain districts of Puno. The dance originates from the Saya (cultural artform), which pertained to Afro-Bolivian miners and slaves during colonial times. As of this Saya the dance has been dedicated to the Virgen de la Candelaria since she is the patron saint to miners. The dance as of today consists of women and men, each with their designated traditional wear (although I have been told that the women’s wear has been modified over time). The traditional wear is a mix of Afro-Andino and Spanish aspects in which it consists of really bright colors and uniform-like outfits. The men dance in a very power asserting way as they tend to stomp and jump while the women sway their hands gracefully. 

Some of my favorite things about this parade are being able to see the behind the scenes, watching the groups being able to practice their dances, the different traditional wear, and the high-spirited energy. Since my roommate was a part of the parade, I semi-followed her from the historic center of Lima to a stage in another part of the city. I probably could’ve gotten to the other end of the parade in 30 minutes if I walked fast enough, but that was also fun watching the different groups perform. This is just one of the dances that Peru has to offer, Puno has a way bigger celebration and festival.