Chincha y La Cultura Afro

Earlier last week, one of the medical school residents asked me if I would want to go on a trip to Chincha. I had never heard of Chincha and the travel guide I have says Chincha is crowded and home to the Afroperuanos, but besides that hardly gives it a page. 

Not really sure if I should go, I asked the owners of the house I am staying at what they thought. They said Chincha had tons of great music, dancing, and delicious food. When my friend told me there was a wedding, I was sold.

So Saturday I packed my bags and headed to Chincha with my friend, his aunt, and one of her friends. When we got there, I couldn’t believe the city. It was on top of a huge hill in the middle of the Peruvian costal desert, and overflowing with people, cars, and little motorcycle cabs zipping past. The lights in the streets advertising casinos and restaurants reminded me of Las Vegas and everywhere were signs for sopa seco and pisco. Here are some photos from the next day:


We got to the hotel, changed, and went to the wedding. The wedding was nice, my favorite part being a little boy holding a sign that read “Y tu novia ya llegada” which translates “and your bride has arrived.” After the wedding, we went to the fiesta, which was awesome!  We danced until three in the morning, clapping, singing, and laughing with the bride and groom the whole time.

But before we danced, Chinchanos performed traditional dances. First, a group of boys called zapateos danced to a fiddler and a drummer on the cajón. This type of dancing is a kind of flamenco or tap dancing, where the dancers stomp on the ground to create complex rhythms and show off dazzling footwork. Next, a group of afroperuvians performed a traditonal dance that was great. But, what blew me and everyone else away was their second dance: the Alcatraz (yes the same name as the prison). In the Alcatraz, dancers hold torches and have a piece of paper taped to their back. The goal is to try to light your partners paper on fire before they light yours, while still dancing to the music. Totally crazy!

After more food, dancing, some homemade pisco, and accidentally deleting all the pictures on my camera that I took that night, we left at 3 am and there was still a crowd dancing away.  Today, we woke up, ate, and headed to a district called El Carmen, near the haciendas. In the town square, more zapateos were performing, so I snapped a few pictures to make up for the other night.


Then, we visited an old plantation or hacienda called San Jose. History time. Chincha is home to Afroperuvian culture because it was an area with a number of haciendas, each with myriads of slaves who picked cotton, planted corn, and tended to the owners. Beautiful, but at the same time somewhat grueling knowing what kinds of atrocities occurred to maintain the area.

After, we got some traditional Chinchano food, then headed back to Lima. What a crazy, fun, and interesting trip!




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