A Night at the Faire

In my previous trips to Peru, I’ve gone to a faire that has been held in the nearby Parque de la Exposición. It’s a pretty big park built expressly to add culture to the city. It has several art museums, and a nice fountain. There are also amphitheaters and even a puppet show building for kids. I really wanted to go to the faire this year as well, but didn’t really know how to find out about it. I scoured the internet for a calendar of cultural events in Lima but didn’t really find anything. I did find that there was going to be a concert at the park on father’s day. I asked the staff at the hostal but I didn’t really understand the conversation. Either the fair is closed on holidays, or it really picks up on holidays. Holidays… like father’s day! They also told me that Sundays are a good day to go to the faire. I wanted to ask Bob, but he was busy handling details for a trip to Buena Vista to observe a possible astronomical alignment that coincides with the winter equinox, a major event for the Incas and people living here today. In Cusco they have a giant celebration called Inti Raymi with parades and ceremonies.

The pieces fell into place in my head: a concert at the park for one holiday, which is on a Sunday. A major cultural event coming up… maybe the faire will be there that day? On Sunday morning, I walked to the park to see what was there. I was greeted by gigantic banners advertising the Inti Raymi festival at the park. Another banner was for the concert taking place that same day. Cool! I walked in and saw people setting up. Already, whole pigs were on the grill, with delicious smoke rising into the air. It was going to be awesome. I went back to the hostal to tell the students the good news. They had gone to some parties with a Peruvian student so they were slow to awaken. I told them all the cool stuff that was going down that day.

We had already decided to go to Miraflores that day so Beckie could pick up a skirt she wanted at Juan Carlos’ booth at the circle market. Juan Carlos? Oh right, he needs his own post lol. Anyway our cab ride there was very entertaining because our driver spoke a lot of English and had a nice car. We got a taste of that when I talked him down from 10 soles for the cab ride (a ridiculous price). He pleaded that it was father’s day so I should be generous! I did get him down to 8 soles. On the way we talked about a lot of the usual things like why we were in Peru and how long we were staying. When he found out we were archaeologists the conversation changed to the rich archaeology of Peru. We talked about Caral/Chupacigarro (he was surprised we’ve been there already), the Incas in general, and the mystery of the Nasca lines. In Miraflores he told us to try the lúcuma ice cream and was surprised again when we told him that we were way ahead of him. In the end we gave him 10 soles for the ride.

Beckie got her skirt and we immediately set off back towards Jesus María for the faire. When we got there it was already dark (heading towards the winter equinox does mean that the nights are getting longer). There weren’t as many booths set up as I had thought as many stalls were empty. There was a lot of stuff going on though, including a motion simulator ride:

Link to Flickr: All aboard the bumpy box thing.

Once again what is popular at the faire has changed. The first one I went to, in 2003, had predominantly touristy stuff and local food. The second year, 2004, had a much larger showing of health-related products: vegetarian food, natural ingredients, etc. That was also the first time i saw sorpresas there, grab-bag goodies that can be bought for 1 sol each. This year, there are very few tourist goods, and many more redundant booths. There were at least 3 booths selling the same soy chicharrones. A few artists were doing spray paint/fire breathing demonstrations. The restaurant area was a lot larger though. There was a large section of tables and chairs with rows of booths grilling all kinds of meat. I spied anticuchos (beef hearts), hot dogs, tripe (mmm), and a pile of cuy chactado (guinea pig on a stick). Another aisle was all alcohol. At one end of the food area was a concert stage, where most of the people were. This wasn’t the concert that was advertised, but rather where some smaller bands entertained the crowd.

Link to Flickr: ¿Lima está listo para roquear?

We split up and went through the aisles. I bought some mazamorra morada for people to try. This is what i affectionately call “chicha snot-rada” because it tastes like chicha morada, the regional purple corn drink, but with a mucus-like consistency. Most of us picked up a little something. I got a little knit cap for Kristin. Andrea got a spraypainting of what appears to be a waterfall, explosion, and a panda.

Eventually we all got back together and they decided to leave to get dinner. I had other plans so when I got them a cab, I told them I was staying. They were shocked (perhaps I should’ve told them beforehand) and thought I was mad at them. I just wanted the explore some more! I also wanted to try out the faire food. After they left I walked around the entire fairgrounds, picking up a lot of sorpresas for Kristin. Dinner was winding down and that meant a lot of freshly grilled food wasn’t so fresh anymore. I found a place that was still grilling things and ordered the standard plate there. The chef was very nice and even put on her bandana when I asked to take her picture. It didn’t show up in this one, but I have another picture where the bandana paid off:

Link to Flickr.

The plate I got was this:

Link to Flickr: ¡Hay que rico!

It has some grilled potato, a grilled piece of corn, two sticks of anticuchos, all covered in delicious tripe. Pretty sweet for 6 soles ($2 or so).

They started closing off the fairgrounds at 8:30 or so, which I thought was kind of early for a culture known for their parties to 3AM. I walked back to the hostel and snapped some pictures along the way:

Link to Flickr: I hear the faculty are d***s.

Next: this weekend!

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