Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Of music and revolution, Lima-style

In addition to time spent in Villa El Salvador, we also spent time with the members of an experimental Andean music group called Pachacamac. Formed 11 years ago, the group now has five members (two of whom lived in the apartment above us in Lima) all of whom play a wide variety of Andean instruments, sea shells, and pods from trees to produce a really beautiful and unique mix of Andean tones and rhythms with an experimental twist. Because Paul helped them secure funding to produce their cd, which resulted in the members being able to go on tour in Argentina and Chile, as well as being very nice people, Pachacamac played a private concert for us on one of our nights in Lima! It was a really powerful experience for me to see these five people with so much talent play music, communicating through their instruments as if they were speaking to each other, six feet in front of me. After the concert, we ate a meal prepared by Cesar (although we all, including the musicians, helped chop vegetables) and discussed music and cosmovisions of the universe. You should ask me and Paul to listen to their music next time we see you!

Here are the five members of Pachacamac playing a few of the many, many instruments they use to perform their music. Everything present (from sea shells to stones to flutes to tree pods) are used throughout the course of their songs.

Giovana, the groups' percussionist and a founding member. She also lived in the apartment about us. She not only plays the drums, but strings of shells and parts of trees that serve as percussion instruments as well. Incredibly awesome.

The Wednesday of our week in Lima was also a national strike of transportation workers (mostly buses). They were protesting policies passed by current Peruvian president Alan Garcia, which threaten the health care and other needed social services of the bus workers. Apparently there are huge strikes and protests almost every weekend in Lima. There was a huge protest in the center of Lima, and obviously James took some great photos of the event.
The Garcia government mounted a campaign against the strike, hanging signs that said "I love Peru, No to the strike" and "Lima needs to work, No to the strike" all throughout the city. I saw many buses on the streets that day, so I don´t know how much of a success the strike was on the whole.

Scenes of protest in the center of Lima. The bus workers were joined by many others.

The sign reads: "Hunger, misery, destruction, and death. Free trade. Until when? Stop striking us down"

It refers to the pending free trade agreement (called the TLC- Trato de Libre Comercio) between the US, Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Colombia that is most likely to increase poverty and diminish opportunity for almost all the citizens of these countries (just as NAFTA has done in Mexico). People at the strike used the opportunity to speak out against the horrific affects of free trade in the Americas.

The sign above the "crucified" man says: "President Alan Garcia crucifies the health sector and all Peruvian people in the name of Law ....[head covering number of law.]"

Other than music, social justice, and revolution, for me our week in Lima was a chance to rest and recuperate from the intensity of life and work and Bolivia. I needed some reflection time, as well as the chance to eat delicious food, before starting up again in Quito. I don´t think I really realized the challenges that working in Bolivia posed until I left the country. But now, here in Quito, I can feel how powerful both my Bolivian and Peruvian experiences were.

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