Saturday, March 21, 2009

El Dia del Artesano...

was celebrated on Thursday the 19th of March at the governmental palace in Lima and I got to go. The Bridge of Hope team along with artisans from groups Mana, Kuichi and Emady met at 9:30 am (which means we really met at 10:30am) and entered the palace. We had to walk through a metal detector (which I set off and caused them no alarm) and they took my camera, so I have no photos from inside.

We went into a ballroom where there were people in both suits and native dress milling around overly large art from different areas of Peru. We stood and chatted and walked around for a little over an hour when the press entered and stood on risers on one side of the room, everyone got excited and crowded toward the stage. Security made some walking room, we waited a little bit more, and then Alan Garcia (President of Peru) entered followed by two of the ministers and a couple of other men. At the closest point, I was only five feet away from him. And I gotta say I was quite surprised as he was bigger than I had anticipated. I am guessing about 6'5" or so and a good 300 lbs.

Then the speeches started, I followed the first couple, but started to zone out in the third and fourth speeches. Garcia spent most of this time staring either at the chandeliers or the floor. He looked way more bored than I felt. Though, when his turn to speak came about, he was quite charismatic. What amazed me the most was the Peruvian Dancer (photo above) who stood on stage with the bottle on her head (for the entire hour of speeches) and her arms up during the first two speeches (about 20 minutes). At the end of Garcia's speech, the dancer poured a toast for him and the other speech makers and they brought out pisco sour for everyone else to toast (by far the strongest Pisco Sour I have had in Peru) and there was a little bit more pomp and circumstance before they departed the ballroom.
Afterwards, I told the dancer I was very impressed by her talent and all she said was how disappointed she was that they didn't allow her to dance. Then she offered me a drink from the same cup that the President drank from, and whatever I drank tasted quite awful.

Here she is dancing without music after the festivities ended...

In retrospect, I think she was actually what kept me paying attention to anything. I kept thinking, "at least I don't have a bottle on my head." Overall, an incredibly interesting and exhausting day.

all for me for now, katie

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