Experiencing genuine Afro-Peruvian culture and hospitality.

Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 10-11.

More spirited dancing
Spirited dancing around a bonfire made from cotton plants.

We took a weekend field trip to experience one of the Peruvian cultures, that of Afro-Peruvians, descendants of Africans brought to Peru as slaves.  A three-hour ride south of Lima, in the small community of El Carmen, we were warmly hosted by the family of Camilo Ballumbrosio, a famous Peruvian musician and percussionist.  When the slave masters took away the slaves’ drums, they invented new musical outlets, including zapateo (like tap dancing) and the “cajon,” a wooden box one sits on while ‘drumming.’  We saw both of these on display in the town’s park, in a show put on for us at the Ballumbrosio home, and, not least of all, from our own students.

Near El Carmen we also visited a former slave plantation that grew sugar cane, and later, cotton, a crop that is still grown in the fields around El Carmen.  Dating back to 1688, the plantation and its massive hacienda were also for many years a Jesuit monastery, which continued the slavery practice.

Our visit to El Carmen closed with a tour of its old and new cemeteries.