18 January 2017
Lima, Peru, was founded on this date in 1535. Yes, this city is 482 years old!
Of course, this is the date that the Spanish conquistadors, under Francisco Pizarro, founded the city. There were various indigenous people and pre-Columbian civilizations who lived here on the coast, but there wasn't a united city - that was a conquistador thing. (The Inca people lived mostly in the part of the Andes referred to as "the eyebrow of the jungle" - the eastern edge of the Andes where the mountains meet the Amazonian jungle.)
There have been all kinds of celebrations going on in Lima, mostly in the old part of the city in the Plaza Mayor. The occasional single firework blast in our neighborhood. Schools are closed, but not banks or stores or restaurants.
So we've just been going about our life as usual - a little shopping, a walk, some lunch, maybe the hottest hour of the afternoon in our friendly neighborhood casino.
Now, I should add here that we aren't big gamblers. A $20 US bill equals 68 soles, or 6800 centavos. A slot machine might play for 25 centavos a spin. So you can imagine how much play we can get for $20 US. It's fun, it's a little bit social, it's air conditioned for the hottest part of the afternoon. The casino staff provide drinks if you ask, or come around with meals (which we've never tried). Though we did have the Christmas snack of hot chocolate (chocolate caliente) and Christmas bread (paneton).
Anyway, today after lunch I stopped by the casino, to throw away my $20. (I walked out with a 200% profit.) But that isn't the best part - first, one of the young men waiters came around, all dressed up with a fancy jacket and lacy shirt, looking, well, like a pirate! I told him, in my beginner Spanish, that I liked his clothes, he was very elegant! (Muy elegante!) He thanked me. So I asked him if he was a pirate, thinking this was possibly some promotion at the casino. No, he explained, it's the celebration for Lima Day. (And then there was a lot I didn't understand.)
And he agreed to pose for a photo, looking very handsome in his vaguely 16th century clothing. Top photo. And doesn't he look like a pirate dressed up??
Then, two of the ladies who help us with collecting wins (they have a credit card system, where they download the win from the machine, then get the money from the cashier) were all dressed up in gorgeous ball gowns, each a different color!! Of course, I had to tell them how beautiful they looked, exclaim over their wonderful dresses, and ask if I could get their photos as well!
So here you go, photos of our friendly neighborhood casino staff, dressed up for Lima Day!
I need to add that I couldn't think of the word for "birthday" or even "anniversary" when I was asking one of them if this was the celebration, so I asked "Hoy dias es el nacimiento del Lima?" Literally translated, "Today is the birth of Lima?" Close enough, but it explains why the lady in rose laughed at me.
What can I say, my Spanish has its roots in Italian art terminology.
Anyway, it was great fun, and just one more reason to hang out in the same places while in a town or city - people get to know you and are happy to pose in their lovely costumes!