It’s our first day in Peru. We expected it to be uneventful. We’re in Piura, a large city in the Sechura desert, which the Lonely Planet describes as a suitable resting point on the way to somewhere else. We’re doing just that, enjoying a stop-over after a nine hour bus trip from Ecuador yesterday and an early start tomorrow to catch our flight to Arequipa.
After so long on the bus yesterday neither of us were keen on another fifty or so kilometres travel to the beach or even to the nearby town of Catacaos, famous for its market.
Instead, we wandered down to the square to see what we could see. We thought we might sit in the shade, read our books, or find a cafe for coffee and cake. But look what we found!
There were sand paintings all around the square, and a parade about to start.
It’s the 30th of August, the feast day of St Rosa de Lima, patron Saint of Peru and of the police.
Everyone was waiting for Mass to finish. And when it did, a statue of St Rosa de Lima was paraded around the square. At each corner songs were sung, prayers were said, and rose petals and glitter thrown over the statue. There were fireworks, too; the loud, explosive sort.
The procession took over an hour.
While I waited for St Rosa to return to our corner I had the company of a delightful young man who taught me the Spanish word for skateboard —patineta. His brother had the great honour of performing in the band that greeted the saint at the final corner, before she was returned to her home in the Basilica.