This week Huaycán was especially raucous. Their 29th Anniversary was on Monday and everyone came out into the dusty streets to celebrate. Excitement started building on Saturday as jumping castles, concert stages, and street vendors started setting up for the celebration. Sunday preparations escalated. Streets were closed off creating impossible traffic jams in a city already notorious for terrible traffic. So much honking. I witnessed a girl getting hit by a moto-taxi – she forgot to look both ways on a street that is normally a one-way and bam, there it was. It was scary but she bounced back to her feet, probably in shock, and continued across. A policeman witnessed the accident and assisted her from there.
On Sunday morning the market was clamoring with people. I wandered through the stalls, returned to my usual stand for pulverized peanuts (the closest thing to peanut butter available in Perú), and new stalls to buy avocado, veggies, and spices. I might be starting to blend in because one of the vendors asked me if I was Peruvian. I told her no but I would love to be, Peruvians are so good-natured and fun. I bought roasted pumpkin soup and a humita to snack on and strolled back home.
The real party started Sunday night – concerts, fried food, calentito (a warm rum drink) and so many people. Then on Monday the parade madness began. Their parade was very inclusive, as in I think just about every school and business in Huaycán was marching in it. It lasted 6 hours. 6 hours of adorable children in costumes and school uniforms, of marching bands beating on their drums, of men on a stage yelling praises, and of celebrating the Huaycán community. The sun beat hard onto the proud faces of the people in Huaycán, the taint of a rough history visible through the powerful sense of triumph and community.
Despite the dusty haze that’s always falling, the ferocious dogs that bark and chase and bite (I got bit by a dog this week, level III rabies risk according to WHO but I’m ok), and the persistent honk of traffic, I am starting to feel at home in Huaycán. We refrained from another chilly camping adventure and stayed home this weekend. Our days consisted of wondering around town, walking to the market, and just chilling. We found a quiet neighborhood! We made apple pie with the help of our neighbors – a pan from lovely Queta, the women that keeps our house in line, and an oven from wonderful Silvia, who owns a bodega nearby. We made a scrumptious dinner of Palaak Paneer, Aloo Gobi, and Garlic Naan. I had a kitchen to myself for the first time in MONTHS and it felt so good. Our house was fairly silent as most of the volunteers were out and about in Lima, and we enjoyed our meal by candlelight.
I am thankful for these foothills that create spectacular views when visible through the fog, that challenge and guide my strides on morning runs, that I will call my home for three more weeks, and that I know will always welcome me back.