Grand parade in Miraflores
In preparation for the all-important 28 de Julio (Peru's Independence Day — commemorating their sovereignty from the Spanish in 1821), Peru is starting to celebrate! This afternoon, all the streets were closed off in Miraflores (the part of Lima that I'm staying in), where they held a parade of titanic proportions. About four solid hours of parading ensued, from the military, the local schools, various government and charity agencies, various industrial and agricultural unions, and even from several Miss Perus. The sidewalks were absolutely sardine-packed with spectators: there must have been at least ½ a million people, come to watch the festivities. They put on a really good show, and they certainly made it clear that they are a people with tremendous national pride.
Dancing girls in the parade.
Those of us that went for ceviche lunch left the restaurant at about 3:30pm, just in time to see the streets packed with people all around, and the parade beginning to pour through. We stayed on the street for about an hour, watching the parade from the sidelines, along with the rest of the masses. There were so many beautiful processions that came through, I just couldn't stop snapping pictures all afternoon. The pictures are all up and online: but there's way too many to show here in this post. However, I've tried to find the best ones to put here.
Chinese procession, dancing like mad.
Big drum-on-wheels, in the Chinese procession.
"Bomberos" ("firemen") coming through.
Military of silly walks.
Military walking (less silly).
Everyone else is in formal military attire, but this guy just had to show up in his scuba suit.
Ummm... is that really necessary?
And now a word from our sponsors... it's Ronald McDonald!
20-foot high puppet thing, come to steal young Peruvian babies.
Ommigod, I'm Miss Peru! I love you all! World Peace!
I only have three major complaints. Firstly, there were a few too many "ad breaks" in the parade. The whole thing was organised, and largely funded, by a big company called "Wong", and their banners featured prominently throughout the entire show. Made it all just a little too commercialised for my liking. Secondly, the vast majority of the processions were very traditional, European, and basically Lima-centric. There was very little representation from the Andean highlanders — no traditional Quechuan outfits, and no huayna dancing or reed music — and also very little from the jungle communities. This is a real shame, because these two groups are an integral part of Peru's cultural heritage, and this parade was meant to be for the whole of Peru. Oh well, I guess it's kind of better than in Australia, where we go to the other extreme, and do ridiculous things to make sure that our minority groups are well-represented, with the result of laughable political correctness.
And thirdly, the sidewalk areas for the spectators were absolutely packed. You just couldn't move. People were virtually getting squashed to death, trying to make their way through the crowd. Little wonder that I got pickpocketed — perfect opportunity for it. But hey, I guess that if it wasn't packed beyond all reasonable safety limits, then it just wouldn't be Peru.
Crowds without end on the sidelines of the parade.
Anyway, we stayed and watched the parade on the sidewalk for about an hour, then we made our way — with extreme difficulty — back to Loki. Once there, we watched the rest of the parade from the comfort of the Irish bar, which has a panoramic view of central Miraflores, and which thus gave us the perfect vantage point for seeing the end of the processions, and the spectacular fireworks that capped off the parade.
Waterfall of fire cascading into Parque Kennedy.
This parade really made it clear just how much national pride the Peruvian people have. They love their country. They're particularly proud of their amazing archaeological heritage; and there was a big mention of the news that Macchu Picchu is one of the official new seven wonders of the world. And this is just the lead-up to 28 de Julio: I hate to imagine what's going to happen in 6 days' time!