February is Carnival month in Peru. I’ve been in Arequipa since the 12th and each day have noticed more and more fun Carnival activities – parades, public entertainment events, and a fantastic Valentine’s Day celebration. Puno, Lake Titicaca, and the Uros Islands are the next stop. Sadly I missed Puno’s Virgen de la Candelaria festival, one of the most colorful Peruvian Carnival events.
The Virgin of Candelaria celebrates the Virgin Mary on the island of Tenerife, one of Spain’s Canary Islands. The Virgin Mary is the patron saint of the Canary Islands and each year for 18 days they celebrate her feast on the shores of Lake Titicaca.
At an altitude of 3,870 meters (almost 13,000 feet) above sea level, Puno becomes the Folk Capital of the Americas during Carnival. During the festival musicians and dancers gather to celebrate and perform.
“The Our Lady of Candelaria festival is linked to the pre-Hispanic agricultural cycles of sowing and harvesting, as well as mining activities in the region. It’s the result of a blend of respectful Aymara gaiety and ancestral Quechua seriousness.”
I’m recovering from traveler’s GI issues so everything, including the Colca Canyon trek, is on hold. It’s a bummer. Not sure how much longer recovery will take but Arequipa is as good a place as any to be sick. Hoping to get out and about a bit today. Last night Carnival cannons and fireworks went off well into the night and started up again this morning at 6:00 a.m.
Another interesting celebration that made a big impact during my travels was TET (Lunar New Year) in Viet Nam a few years ago. TET celebrations are now in process throughout the world. In Viet Nam everything comes to a standstill for TET and it has a colossal impact on the people. Carnival is South America’s TET!