Thursday, August 4, 2011

Huancayo, Peru

A wedding in Huancayo is like no other in Peru; unfortunately, I didn't get to see the it. However, I got to see the family reunion prior to the weeding and celebrate the Santiagos with the families... so I was happy.

Santiagos are specific only to Huancayo, and only at this time of year. They are best described as family parades around the city, set the music of a hired orchestra, to celebrate the farm animals. It seems to have everything that the people hold dear, all wrapped up into one package (Music, family, dancing, parades, beer, and paying respect to Pacha Mama or Mother Earth).

Basically, what happens is the family holds a family reunion (and party) for 2 or more families at a house. Each family dresses in the typical Sierra clothing, with the men of each family wearing a specific color of pants, hat, and tie. The families also each hire an orchestra. At the start of the party, the head of the each family presents each other family with a gift and gives a small speech (the gift to our family was a huge stack of beers).

Then after each family has received their gifts and given the speeches. The families take turns dancing. When the orchestra of one family is playing, that family dances. When the other orchestras are playing they sit, talk, and eat.

Then when the family is revved up and really excited (read into that statement), they take the show on the road, parading around the block as they dance to their orchestra marching behind them.

This is a family that was Santiago-ing when arrived into Huancayo.

Note the matching outfits sported by the men to show their family connections.

Family Reunion:
Having just missed the Neary Family Reunion in South Dakota, I felt a little sheepish walking into the Hinojosa Family Reunion and introducing myself as Brice Hinojosa Corts, but what can you do... you're in Peru. The whole deal started off like any other big family gathering, but then slowly picked up speed. However, to best describe this event, its best I lay down in two phases Day Time vs. Night Time. The change in the two phases was not due to the sun and the moon, it was more due to the drinking circles. Drinking circles? Allow me to explain:

----Side Bar On Drinking Circles----

In Peru, alcohol is very present and drinking (mainly beer) is a very common way to celebrate; however, with drinking, there are other factors involved. One aspect is alcohol as a gesture of respect or love. In the countryside, money and gifts are not common, but beer and food is. So, if you were to enter into a home, almost surely the woman will offer you a big plate of food. And and if your walking down the street or at a party, almost always a man will offer you some beer. To turn down the food or refuse the drink (no matter how full, sick, or tired you are) would be the equivalent to refusing to shake someone's hand when they offer it to you ( there always ways to say no... it's just something you can too often).

Drinking circles are custom here in Peru. If generally involves: a bunch of beers, one cup, and a circle of people standing around the beers. Everyone shares the same cup, and every one drinks the same beer until it's gone. Here's the basic set up: One person invites the other join the drinking circle (sign of respect) by offering them the bottle and the cup. That person opens the bottle and pours as much as he wants into the cup. Then he passes the bottle to next person in the circle. While that person holds the bottle, the first person drinks his cup of beer and the dumps out the foam on the ground. Then passes the cup to the person holding the bottle, starting the process over. The cup and bottle travels around the circle until all the beer is gone. It's pretty simple minus a few side rules... such as:

1. If a woman is to your side, you must serve her first, wait until she's done before you serve yourself. If there are more than one women to you side, you must serve them all before you drink. (Be a gentleman)
2. A women is never expected to hold the bottle (Don't pass her it).
3. It's insulting to pour another man a beer (because that's what you do for the ladies).

(I broke all the rules, but thankfully Frank was there to tell me what to do).

---- Back to the Phases of the Family Reunion ---

During the day, the reunion seemed pretty normal. The kids ran around, while the individual families mingled and ate outside (we ate Pachamanga). Each family was dressed in their specific colors and circled up to receive the presents form the other families. After the speeches, the family dug into the stack of beers while waiting for their orchestra to start playing. People were pretty curious about the big white guy with the camera (Gregoria's new son), but were generally too shy to approach me or make eye contact. However, one aunt did grab me before I could leave with Frank and Danny(we were going to walk around a little) to dance with the family.

Me Dancing

After my dance ("Nobody puts baby in the corner"), Frank, Danny and I left to see more of Huancayo.

When we came back, we observed the impact of the drinking circles and noted that the family sized had doubled. There was no timidly asking Gregoria who I was. It seems like I talked to everyone, and was even sung to by Gregoria and my host Aunt (some song about a guy being unfaithful and a liar. Go figure, because I requested Neil Diamond's Sweet Caroline). I think videos speak for themselves.

Day Time Video Link

Night Time Video Link

The Wedding (which I didn't get to see):
 The Wedding was on Domingo (Sunday), so Frank, Danny, and I couldn't make it. We needed to return home that day, for work and school on the next. However, I know I missed a unique opportunity. Wedding in the Huancayo area are like no other, as they have their own traditions. Luckily my host-dad filmed it all and I was able it at home (and maybe someday upload the film here). What makes it so unique, is the gift giving process. Here's how it works. After all of the normal wedding stuff we are use to in the states, and everyone gets a chance to dance with the bride and groom, then the gift giving process starts. The bride and groom sit at a table and everyone leave. Then the orchestra starts playing music, the bride's family (about 30-40 people) parades in (just like above during the Santiagos) carrying gifts of food. Tons of fruits, cheese, and few pigs and chickens (live). Then the grooms family (30-40 people) comes in doing the same. Then they all dance. Then the process starts over, with everyone leaving, but the brides family parades in carrying furniture and other household items (Beds, tables, pots, pans, etc.). Then the groom's family does the same with their gifts. Then they all dance. Then they leave, and the next parade session, is the crazy one. The families march in with money in their hats (tucked in the bands of their hats) as gifts. The people go crazy for this and there is all kinds of yelling and excitement (this couple received 8,400 S/.). Then they all dance. Then the last parade, everyone carries in beer. Lots and lots of beer, too much to describe (Gregoria kept repeating how "there was SO much beer that each person got his or her OWN bottle, AND there was still beer left over". Getting you own bottle is kinda rare here... see the drinking circle section above). 

Just to recap, because there are a lot words above:
2 Parades, one with each family. 4 categories (Food, Furniture, Cash, and Beers).

Finally, I know this was along post, but I've also included a link to a picture album. There are few stories that I didn't mention (scenic drive over, having to dance on the tour bus) that kinda covered in the captions. Enjoy.

Huancayo Fotos

This is also just a random video I took in Huancayo. 

Video of the kids catching the ducks.