Happy Independence Day in Peru! Today, the country celebrates 189 years of independence from Spain.
The last few years, I have spent the 4th of July at the Casa Girasoles home in Ica with the group from my home church, First Presbyterian. Augusto, the house father in Ica, is very patriotic towards his country Peru, and every year tells me he feels honored to spend our Independence Day with us (the Dearborn group) in his home. In the three years I have known Augusto, never have I been able to share in his Independence Day, fiestas patrias, at the home in Ica. In 2008, I was in Cusco and last year, I was still working at the Girasoles abandoned boys home in Puerto Alegria.
This year, after leaving the jungle and returning to Lima, I headed south to the desert – partly to help adjust from the hot and humid jungle weather before going to the cold mountains, but mostly to see friends in Girasoles Ica. I arrived to Ica on Tuesday night, the day before the national holiday festivities began.
This morning at breakfast, I asked Augusto if anything special would be happening for the holiday and he mentioned the parade through the city center. We didn’t think much of it and were not planning on going, but we needed to run some errands and ended up walking along the parade, watching the local schools, army, police officers and every form of civil servant march through the streets of Ica. While this was not my first parade in Peru, it was definitely the most organized.
After the parade, we returned to Girasoles and found the boys humming and singing the chorus of the Peruvian national anthem (Somos libres seámoslo siempre, seámoslo siempre!”) and wearing their escarpelas in honor of the day.
Happy fiestas patrias.