Religious fervour

I just witnessed an exhibition of religious fervour that was kind of spooky and surreal…

I was sitting by the window in an empty restaurant called Las Querenas around 7pm, eating an allegedly traditional Arequipan meal of steak and potatoes, when I noticed that the normally incessant horn-honking of the taxis and combis (crazy little private minibuses, common throughout Peru, that solicit passengers by sounding their ambulance sirens and having a conductor who hangs out of the door shouting at passers-by) had gone quiet, and that people in the street were crossing themsleves and going into the convent opposite.

Soon afterwards, the convent’s bells started ringing a discordant and unsettling tune, and a procession with a military band appeared in the street carrying some kind of float with a huge effigy of Santa Catalina, the patron saint of the monastery (I’m guessing 8 September is SC’s saint’s day). Even more bizarre, there were nuns in white habits on the roof of the convent shovelling great bucketfuls of rose petals down onto the effigy. The procession stopped right in front of my window, the float with the effigy of SC turned 90 degrees, and then they all went into the convent. I heard a round of applause from within, and then it all went quiet.

Minutes later, the military band left with their instruments, and normal traffic resumed in the street.

It probably doesn’t sound that odd as I’ve described it, but the whole scene had a very David Lynch quality at the time.

Incidentally, I wouldn’t normally make 3 posts in one day, but I came home to get some sleep before my trek and discovered that there’s a computer with free broadband in my hotel, and couldn’t resist.

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