Peru In The Heart Of Washington

Rope Weavers
Peruvian rope weavers expertly build super-strong ropes from simple strands of natural fibers. [Click on photo for larger versions]
Cloth Weaver
Weaving colorful cloth requires both incredible talent and coordination.
Dancer Mask
Traditional dancers hide their faces from the audience after making their offerings to the Virgin Mary.
Hat Maker
It takes a minimum of eight hours of continuous weaving to make a single straw hat.
Peruvian Masks
Masks are everywhere at the festival and each one of them had a different meaning for those who made them.
Peruvian Weaver
There is always some curiosity when a camera is pointed at you, but a smile always makes up for the surprise.

One of the great things about living in the Washington, DC area is that you get to experience world cultures without having to leave the city. Of course, this is mainly because of the great Smithsonian Institution, which sits royally in the heart of the city and acts as beacon of culture that is second to none in the world. On this particular weekend it is Peru that has their attention, with a celebration of Peruvian culture and traditions at the Folklife Festival smack in the middle of the Washington Mall. In fact, after visiting several of these festivals in the past, it is my impression that this one is one of the best festivals I have ever seen at the Mall, and I’m not just saying that because of the copious amounts of Peruvian food I came in contact with. Really, they even have Alpacas there, which you can go check out after trying your dance skills at the sound of some rhythmic Andean tunes.

But what was most impressive for me was the sight of weavers and boat-makers who could turn simple threads and straw into incredible works of art. In a city where the first thing that comes to mind when talking about “ancient skills” is having to type on a manual typewriter, actually seeing people who can build something with their hands is a quite a big deal. And after several hours observing them at work, I never saw a single one of them using a cell phone. Amazing that people can survive without them. Gracias amigos.