Last night we went to a birthday get together for O's aunt in La Molina. It was at Carmen's house, and all the neighbors came and brought pot luck. We arrived later in the evening, but everyone else had been there since 3 o'clock in the afternoon. Birthdays are a huge thing in Peru. They usually begin with friends and relatives arriving and spending time chatting, maybe have a cocktail while talking, then they eat. Dinner is almost always a three course meal, with wine. Following the meal, they put on the music and everyone sings and dances away the rest of the evening, till midnight, when the cake is brought out and "Happy Birthday" is sung to the lucky birthday person. More singing and dancing follows, till the guests are exhausted and the food and drink are gone.
Last night, we danced to typical Peruvian music from the highlands, the coast, and the jungle. The first time I saw the regional dances, I thought they were some kind of fertility dance, and I guess they were at the time that they were created. There is a lot of African influence in the dances from the jungle, from the highlands, the Quechua influence is strong. On the coast, from Trujillo, comes the Marinera. The music is a little intense and overbearing, but the Marinera is a dance that is basically an illustration of traditional and conservative courtship. It's the "handkerchief" dance. Both partners wave their hankies in the air throughout the dance, the woman usually wearing long, full skirts with petticoats, her hair is always up swept, her blouse is lacy, she is absolutely elegant, and she dances barefoot. The man wears a Spanish style suit sometimes a large brimmed hat taking the place of the hanky. Fancy footwork is the key to this dance, the male partner pursues the woman and she flees, to turn coquettishly and twirls her hanky at him in a come hither fashion, then runs across the room with her full skirts billowing in the breeze. It's a beautiful dance, artistic and elegant in execution. If you ever come to Peru, try to see the regional dances. They say a lot about the culture of Peru.
I was talking with some friends at the institute yesterday. We were discussing our pets. They know about Celeste and Sunny, and were telling me about their pets. One lady had a Neapolitan Mastiff, and talked about how gentle he was, but how effective he was as a watch dog. One look at that face is enough to make anyone think twice before entering the house. The other lady told me about the pet she had as a child. Her first pet was a rabbit, who lived with the family for 7 years. She said the rabbit behaved more like a cat than a rabbit. The second pet her family had was a rooster. He came with a group of 5 hens, but the hens beat him up and traumatized him to the point that he turned away from them and focused all his romantic efforts on shoes. He outlived the hens, but eventually the passivity of the shoes and the trauma inflicted on him by the hens drove him mad, and he ended up involuntarily contributing to the stew pot after attacking several of the family members as they entered the yard. A sad end, but he gave his all to the welfare of the family.