Viva el Peru

by Ekua on September 30, 2009 in Peru

July 28, 2009

On the morning of Peruvian Independence Day, I woke up to a few surprises. The previous night I’d gone to bed early by Loki Hostel standards and found that my ten bed dorm room was full of people who were already sleeping. I thought it was strange, but awesome that I wouldn’t be woken up in the middle of the night by people stumbling in. When I got out of bed, I saw that the bulk of my dorm mates were a group of senior citizens. They weren’t aware of Loki’s reputation until they arrived. I heartily believe that getting older doesn’t mean you should stop having fun or stop hostelling, but it was very clear that Loki wasn’t the right match for them. They were already packing and looking for a new place to stay. One of them grumpily and groggily asked, “What is this place where people go to bed so late and wake up early?”

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The other surprise slowly emerged from the bed below me. First, a familiar mess of blonde hair, and then a face that I couldn’t place but I was sure I’d seen before. We struck up a conversation and he began to talk about a guy from his Machu Picchu trek group who talked loudly and incessantly. O.G.! (See the Machu Picchu entry if you don’t know who I’m talking about.) I asked him if he was in my tour group and he confirmed that he was. His two friends and O.G. were also staying at the Loki in another room. He told me O.G. was from Israel and promised that despite his shortcomings, he had a really good heart.

During the day I wandered around Cusco, trying to find something interesting going on for Peruvian Independence Day besides super loud and excessive gunfire. The children’s parades were canceled because of swine flu so there weren’t as many festivities that day. The first thing I came across was a protests of sorts. A guy was putting up a big banner that read, “¿Somos Libres?” which can be translated as,  “Are we free?” Artwork and articles were posted along the wall and many people went up to take a closer look.

Plaza de Armas

In Plaza de Armas, many people were gathered for a military band performance. I took a seat under a fountain to people watch and listen to the music. Little kids were splashing about in the fountain and people were filling up their water bottles with fountain water. I wondered about the purpose and usefulness of canceling the children’s parades because of swine flu if the public wasn’t educated on basic sanitation.

When the Andean sun became a little too bright, I headed back to the Loki where I found the three American guys and their Israeli friend. O.G. also promised that he was a good guy even if he was a bit obnoxious. I appreciated his self-awareness and audacity to be himself. I felt bad for automatically writing off both the American guys and O.G. at the beginning of the Machu Picchu tour when I first encountered them. They turned out to be nice people and a lot of fun.

I’d signed up for the hostel dinner and the American guys had as well. When the time rolled around, we got our plates of traditional Peruvian food, a special dinner for Independence Day. I didn’t finish my food and one of the guys took my plate and happily ate the rest. Funny how quickly normal boundaries get torn down when you’re on the road. Of course, the hostel was having an Independence Day party in addition to the dinner. Many people were already dressed in red and white, the colors of the Peruvian flag.

O.G. getting the Peru Indepence Day party started

After dinner, I changed into Peruvian colors as well and joined the festivities. It was by far the most fun night at the Loki and everyone was really pumped to celebrate Peruvian Independence. After awhile I took off to a club with the American guys and Brit we picked up along the way. They’d met a woman who was the lead singer of a reggae band that had a show in Cusco that night. Being a huge fan of reggae music, I was happy to go along.

When we got there, the band was just setting up and the show was no where near starting. But it was okay because there was a DJ spinning Top 40 hits so we hit the dance floor and worked it. We all had a blast, except for the British guy. He had a hipster indie thing going on and wasn’t into it at all. When it became clear that the band wasn’t going to perform until the wee hours of the morning, I decided to head back to the Loki. I had a bus to catch early the next morning. I can’t say much for Independence Day, but Independence Night was a raging good time.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

talesfromtwocities October 1, 2009 at 2:55 am

Hi- thanks for checking out my blog – yours is great! I would love to visit Peru, I can tell I am going to enjoy reading about your adventures!

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