We met Luis and Ed McMullen, from Georgia, this morning for breakfast. Ed is a retired school teacher and lawyer who has known Luis for many years. He jumped at the chance to visit Luis' village for this fiesta. The village of Santa Cruz is definitely not on the tourist map and we felt honored to be invited to share this time with the local Peruvians.
Luis said we should bring towels, soap and pillows along with the usual toiletry items. So before we left Chiclayo, we stopped to do a little shopping.
We left Chiclayo about noon. Luis' sister and cousin also joined us. The first 20 kilometers was a paved road that then turned into a dirt road. It shortly became a one way dirt track. Anytime you met another vehicle, someone had to pull off. The trip to Santa Cruz was another 80 kilometers from the end of the pavement. This 80 kilometers is the roughest, curviest road I ever remember being on. It was one switchback after another and in some places the river or streams ran across the road and we forded through. 80 kms in three and a half hours. As the crow flies, I'd wager the distance is at the most a quarter of the 80 kms. Even more amazing, large passenger buses travel these roads frequently from Santa Cruz to Chiclayo. There were parts where it was a sheer drop off on my side of the van; I can only imagine what it would feel like in a huge bus!
Once in Santa Cruz, we were taken to the school that Luis went to. Some time ago, Doug and I had donated some money to the school to help them build a cement patio or courtyard at the school. Previously it had been a dirt area that became muddy during the rains. Ed had also donated some money. We were treated like royalty; seats of honor, toasts, and speeches. The students performed for us; two young children (4th-5th) grade performed a marinara dance that was extremely well done. Another group of 8 students did a folk dance that had some intricate patterns. The school band played and an honor guard presented the Peruvian flag.
Dinner consisted of cuy (guinea pig), rice and potatoes. Afterwards, we walked to the town square. There's a large park in the center. We attended mass, then joined the crowd in the square where another school band played.
Throughout the square and adjoining roads there were stalls selling clothes, shoes, watches; you name it. There was also an area for slot machines, air hockey, and other carnival games.
To top the evening off, there was a fireworks display. This display was like nothing I had ever seen! They build towers out of bamboo. Each level was a hexagon of bamboo panels about a meter high. Once they built one level, they would build and put another underneath the first. They continued to do this until the tower was twenty levels high! Each level had some kind of formation; circles that would whirl, or flowers that would light up; figures would appear or a line of fireworks would go up the center of the tower. On the very top, something was spelled out. The tallest structure tonight spelled; El Senor del Costado. That is the patron saint of the village and in whose honor the fiesta was put on.
There were also paper hot air balloons that were being launched. What a festive evening!
I will post an album of photos of the fiesta on Facebook.