Well, what do you know? It's Columbus Day long weekend, this weekend in America! And to celebrate, here in New York, today they had a big parade all along Manhattan's famous central boulevard, 5th Avenue. I'm not sure exactly what Columbus Day's for — and when I asked some locals what the story is behind it, they just said "I dunno, but we get Monday off" — so I guess it's a bit like our Queen's Birthday long weekend; it's just one of those holidays that you have, because as far as long weekends go, any excuse is a good excuse. Every country's gotta have at least one like that, right? Anyway, I just stumbled into the parade while I was wandering through Manhattan today, and I was pleasantly surprised with what I found.
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.
Before leaving for Tipón, this morning I met Jesus at the Plaza de Armas, in the middle of Cusco. I didn't realise until now, but in my 6 weeks or so in Cusco so far, I've actually never been in the plaza on Sunday morning before (or anywhere else on Sunday morning, for that matter, apart from in bed). This explains how I managed to be here so long without realising that every Sunday morning, there's a big parade in the plaza. Anyway, this morning I finally saw the military parade, the student parade, and the massive cathedral service that graces central Cusco once every week.