As I walked the dogs on a rural dirt road on the out skirts of Haunchaco, I watched numerous trucks hauling sugar cane over the dirt tracks. Children ran behind urged on by adults taking advantage of the slow moving convoy, these kids climbed to the top of the haul and threw the cane stalk by meager stalk off the trucks to the hands of eager mothers and the smaller children. The little kids couldn’t keep up and I was scared for their safety as they tried unsuccessfully to run after them.
Sugarcane is grown in this area. The stalk is stripped and eaten raw but of course the majority of it is exported to be processed. It is a lucrative item throughout the world, an expensive commodity. What I saw today was just lining the stomachs of children living on, or probably below the poverty line. It made me ashamed that my biggest problem as this was happening was calming the dogs down as they were afraid of the sound of these massive machines. I returned to the road a few days later, I found it swimming in the syrup that had oozed from the cane. Potholes are full
of the gluppy liquid and with the sun blazing overhead heating up the liquid the smell was foul, The huge lorries kept coming.
Its festival season in Huanchaco, This one is the festival of St Peter and St Paul. It is a very special week for the fishermen as the roots of the festivities are ocean based with numerous marine ceremonies and blessings of the small crafts famous in this area.
All week religious ceremonies have taken place in the town. Brass bands parading the streets with eager school children following behind proudly holding aloft their school insignias as onlookers remove hats and bow their heads in respect.
The highlight of the week was a day long celebration in which St Peter is carried on a pedestal from the church to an awaiting tortora boat about 6 times the size of those used daily by the local fishermen. We had watched all week as the men built this masterpiece the weight was huge and we wondered how they would get it to the shore. All was revealed as the fishermen stood back to front and lifted the vessel aloft on to their shoulders and carried it to the
shore were it was decorated with Peruvian flags and garlands all the while the bands played and the beach filled up waiting for the guest of honor, St Peter himself.
A hush descended on the crowd as a somber slow moving posse of fishermen carried the St to his perch on the boat, guided by a priest in his beautifully embroidered vestments lead the way.
One thing I love about this country is the ease in which the old Inkan ways and traditions are celebrated along with the newer Catholic beliefs and as the possession neared the boat he was greeted by a fierce looking Inkan warrior who helped place the statue on the boat.
St Peter, The priest, The Inkan warrior, The local beauty queen and other town officials stepped onto the vessel as an army of people pushed it and its precious cargo into the surf.
Dozens of surfers took to the water surrounding the boat as well as the local fishermen in their “Cabellitos”. We watched from the pier as they circled the cove. The surfers created a line and slashed their hands in the water creating a spray much to our delight. All
the while the Inkan chap stood aloft leaning on his spear glaring at the crowd, really getting into his role.
Eventually they circled back to huge applause from the crowd. The boat remained on the shore for people to view while St Peter was tired and was returned to the church after all he only gets out once a year.
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