Los milagros siempre occuren en Octubre
It is October in Lima, which means a little more sunshine, Halloween (I know, I was surprised too…) and El Señor de los Milagros. El Señor de los Milagros, also known as Cristo Moreno or Señor de los Temblores among other names, is a mural painted by a black slave in the 1600s. The story says that there was a huge earthquake during this era in which much of the city was destroyed, yet this mural was miraculously left standing. In Peru, October is el mes morado. During this month, devotees visit the church in which the painting stands. Many stand in line in order to touch the float which is paraded through the streets in various processions at the end of the month. These processions draw enormous crowds. The faithful bring pictures of loved ones, rosaries or other objects to touch to the float in the hopes that their prayers are answered or miracles realized. Others bring flowers or donate money as an offering to el señor.
I went to visit with my host mom and her friend and it was certainly an interesting experience. We took a combi to the hustle and bustle of the center of Lima. We got off and as you looked around there were blocks and blocks of little stores and vendors selling all kinds of little trinkets: rosaries, candles, pins, beads… everything purple. There were also stretches of storefronts selling turrones de Doña Pepa which is a dessert typical of el mes morado.
I’m not a big fan, but people here love it. It’s prepared with a honey made from stewed fruits and was traditionally an afro-Peruvian dish.
The church was super crowded and at first I felt a bit out of place. I’m not Catholic, but there is a certain feeling in the air. My host mom, who is catholic, told me she asked for el señor to bless my family and loved ones and keep them safe. As I stood taking in the mural and all the people assembled, I decided to use the time to think of all the things, people, and experiences in my life I am grateful for. It seemed appropriate. As we left, we saw one women approaching the altar on her knees. My host mom told me there are some devotees who follow the float along its entire route on their knees. This image clearly demonstrates the immense devotion many Peruvians have to el Señor de los Milagros and his importance to Catholics in Peru. After leaving the church, we stumbled upon a sort of altar behind the church. There, people purchased candles that they then burned for a particular loved one or prayer.
On a side note, I apologize for the crazy filming. I was trying to be discreet on the streets, because my host mom kept telling me to put away my camera before someone snatched it. You can hear her warning me in the video I hope to be able to attend one of the parades at the end of this month, although my host mom has warned me against it. Maybe we’ll just watch it on TV instead.
There is also a new Peruvain film called Octubre which takes place against the backdrop of el mes morado in Lima. A group of us gringos went to see it and enjoyed it, so I recommend it. It just won an award at Cannes.
In other news, I am officially half way through my time here in Peru! In many ways, I can’t believe how fast the time has gone. On the other hand, I feel like I have been here for a long time and have gotten into a steady routine. I feel more comfortable and can feel my Spanish improving daily. I hope to travel to Puno in the first week of November to see Lake Titicaca (cue the giggles) and to see a little of “Puno Week.” Tomorrow we had to Caral for the day with IFSA. Caral is the oldest civilization in the Americas and the 3rd oldest in the world: Mesopotamia, Egypt, Caral. Pretty bacán huh?
!Chau– un beso!