Peruvian beach and la Peña for traditional dances
Lima Travel Blog› entry 55 of 125 › view all entries
Early in the morning we jumped in the car and headed out towards 'Asia' a group of private beaches eighty to ninety km from Lima.
The concept of the private beach in Peru had become quite controversial in recent years. Apparently the primarily white, wealthy property owners of 'Asia' had made it against the rules for the mainly native Peruvian house maids to go swimming during certain hours of the day and this eventually erupted into a scandal. High-profile actors joined the fight and helped to bring attention to the situation that was ultimately remedied.
The terrain from Lima to the beaches was really dry and lifeless. On the left side of the road enormous sand dunes rose into the distance.
Every so often I noticed there were tiny wooden boxes, maybe 3metre cubes arranged all over the countryside. I asked what these were because they looked like little houses but they were in the middle of nowhere.
It was explained to me that these small house made up areas that are referred to as 'Invasions'. Large groups of impoverished people come in at night and build makeshift homes and takeover an area. Apparently some of these areas are approved by the government while many others are not. The approved areas had at least some semblance of order, having been arranged in a grid-like manner. The other non-approved areas were completely out of control.
Finally we arrived at the beach and we were only let in because we had made a reservation in advance. The area by the beach was made up of little white beach houses made in a Greek style. There was no one else at the beach that day, as it is South American winter. We walked down the boardwalk and dipped our feet into the water and I noticed why we were the only ones there.
On our way home from the beach, I got to drive!!! While this is not so much of feat in and of itself, but I had heard prior to coming to Lima, and witnessed for myself the truth of this statement, that Lima should be navigated only by a local.
Back in Lima we showered and changed and headed out to a restaurant/bar to see 'La Peña'. This is a very popular evening activity and attended by people of all ages. There was a stage in the middle of the room and lots of seating all around it. There were about 7 different traditional Peruvian dances in all as well as a singing group that put on an amazing performance. In between the performed dances, people from the crowd got up to dance salsa.
I have a lot of respect for Peruvian culture. They truly understand how to live. The majority of the people on the dance floor were 50-60+ years old.
At the end of the evening they performed the dance 'Alcatraz'. Girls come out in frilly skirts and a guy pins a napkins to their rear. Then he lights a candle and tries to light the napkin on fire while she shakes her hips and tries to stop it from lighting. They move around the dance floor among two other sets of people doing the same thing. They then switch and she tries to get him.
Then they asked for volunteers from the audience and one of the dancers came over and grabbed me from my table. She shook far too quickly for me and I couldn't get the napkin. Then we switched and she chased me around the dancefloor, the other two guys gave up and left and I ended up with three dancers around me trying to light me on fire while I tried to shake them off. I suppose I had a good time.