Thursday, 3 December 2015

Quiet Night In.

There's a free concert in the plaza. They've been hauling the scaffolding in for the last two days. Then this morning an articulated lorry delivers the amplification. Stacked canyons of amplification. The posters advertising the artists, indicate that the festivities will kick off at midday, only there's no indication of a termination. There never is, everybody knows that it will be around sun up tomorrow morning. Our rented room is on the top floor, and whilst the plaza is three blocks away, we have a direct line of sight to that scaffolding stage, now dressed in its obligatory chiffon of red and white patriotism. Our concrete balcony will act as a sound trap.....we might as well be down in the front row of the stalls.

More braid than a general

Twelve differing acts are scheduled for performance, only to my untutored ear they might all be one. It's the same style of Andean ballad that is pumped from transistor radios and the moto-taxis that swarm along the narrow side streets that feed onto the now-closed Plaza de Armas. There's a general air of gridlock that requires an incessant cacophony of claxon and a certain inattention from the traffic police. It's all good natured...very Peruvian.

One day later; different town; same story. Saturday night: Dance night. We've wandered several streets hunting either an hostel or a food shop or a bank, but what we never find in these situations is the local disco. Yet come the dark time, it, or at least the base beat, seems to be right next door. On this occasion I came to, early pre-dawn and the amps have just been screwed up. When all the street lights go dark. They've blown the town fuse. The screaming silence is deafening. Into this void the chapel strikes the hour. It's a momentary the cockerels and the dogs soon fill the vacuum and a vague light defines the eastern skyline.

Another Friday night; another Andean town; another noisy story. Three school brass bands, parades of costumed school children, free range firecrackers, and a man ranting at the microphone, until 4am.

If only....!

Traveling Highland PerĂº will, with practice, eventually acclimatises you to the height-generated oxygen depletion; with persistence it might also habituate you to the noise. By my calculation this has taken two and a half trips to attain a certain level of tranquility, some reconciled serenity. Eventually I can blend out the incessant horns, the disco bass of thump, the pre-dawn dog chorus; I just wish the DJ would give up on his speechifying, and he would introduce the Peruvian harp player. That would be a pleasant way to be lulled back to sleep. Only....

There really is no such thing as a quiet night in.

Post script......there's always a post script when it comes to PerĂº......Saturday morning: 8.44am.....the bands are back in the plaza....trumpets and trombones, euphoniums and sousaphones blazing, drums do they do it?....three hours down time.

So one should always be out of step...