Landing in Lima, Peru my first impression was that it was dirty and cold. In less than 12 hours had been in Bahia, Brazil dancing everyday in some tropical heat. I wanted to crawl back into the plane and head back to Bahia immediately, but instead decided to dig up my warmest sweater from the luggage and head out to explore the town and quickly started to see the beauty of this town. It was right on the coast with some great art galleries, parks, cafes and restaurants. Me and my mom found this great vegetarian restaurant which was a great change of diet after all the meat I had been eating in Brazil. The neighbourhood along the coastline was posh with shiny high-risers, condominiums and town homes with beautifully sculptured lawns and entrances, but only about 5 blocks away from the coastline the scenery quickly changes with no pretty lawns in site, in fact everything was asphalt with no grass in sight. The next day, in search of lunch we ended up in local indoor market, a very typical market for Latin America, but it was my first time and I just fell in love with the atmosphere, in these markets you could find pretty much anything from chicken feet to statues of saint Mary and everything in-between. As a black tourist in Latin America, I became to cherish the encounters with local members of the afro-latin community, in this indoor market by the sweetest lady cooking up the best tamales in town, I will never forget her smile and the way she embraced me. On our way back home I found a bakery that made the best tres leches to this day! Yum yum :- )
Like in most countries I visit, I’m always eager to get mixed into the dance scene, Lima was no exception. We found a dance school just few blocks from our Airbnb, called Amor por lo nuestro. One night while passing I took a sneak peak and saw a room full of dancers, wearing big skirts doing footwork while turning in circles. I was intrigued and walked inside the school to find out more, it turned out that they were doing one of the Peruvian most famous traditional dance styles called Marinera Norteña. Fifteen minutes later I was signed up for a week of Marinera training starting the next morning at 8 am. I was well excited! Next morning greeted by a very handsome dance teacher name Fernando Almaroza, he schooled me on Marinera Norteña was inspired by the movement of horses, with elegant posture and chest shoulders still. Your legs will do all the work, sometimes working double fast, while your upper body must stay still. As most dance styles it’s quite complicated and very hard to master, but looks effortless with beautiful flow to it when you have perfected it. The skirt is very heavy, which you hold up most part of the dance and you also have a handkerchief that you will hold in your right hand, with flicker of the wrist. It’s mostly performed as partner dance, although much of it is danced as a solo while the dancers coming together only every so often during the song. I found Fernando to be a great teacher with the right balance of encouragement, but strict with applying pressure for improvement and making sure I was progressing. I totally fell in love with Marinera Norteña, the grace of it, the fast footwork while you exaggerate your back arch, the elegance and the switch between the softness to power to love to independence is intoxicating to me. Believe me, Marinera Norteña is part of my daily dance training.
Prior to visiting Peru, I had no idea how colourful and vast their dance scene was. In fact Peru has the more significantly different but traditional dance styles that I have encountered anywhere else in the world. Lima has many places where you can witness the ray of dance style including their National Museum. Also another place is a restaurant called Puro Peru. With the price of entry you get to enjoy the five course buffet, and a two hour dance show that has so much variety, colour, substance and talent you will not regret coming rather you love dancing or not! The food was phenomenal, the dancers were amazing and the service was great! I loved the Afro-Peruvian dances, especially the one were they stuck a paper on your backside, and then you have a guy with a candle try to lit your paper on fire, but you keep shaking your bum-bum so fast that tit never catches on fire… another one of my favourites was scissor dance that was super impressive, while the guys would jump around onto their heads and do cartwheels while rhythmically still clicking the scissors together.